MBK: Vincent carries Gauchos to Big West road win

FULLERTON – A near flawless first half and an outstanding offensive performance by freshman Gabe Vincent propelled UC Santa Barbara to a 69-54 win at Cal State Fullerton on Saturday evening.


The Gauchos (14-12 overall, 7-5 in Big West) and Titans (9-18, 1-11) were tied at 11-11 with 15:07 left in the first half when UCSB went on a balanced 17-2 run to stake claim to a 28-13 lead. A smooth left handed hook shot by Sam Beeler completed the run and he was one of six players who scored during that stretch.

Santa Barbara extended the first half lead to 49-27 before settling for a 49-30 advantage at the half. Alan Williams and Gabe Vincent each had 13 points in the first half. Vincent scored the team’s final eight points of the half and was a perfect 5-for-5, including 3-for-3 from three-point range.

As a team, the Gauchos made 18-of-28 field goals, including 6-of-9 from outside the three-point range, in the first 20 minutes. They also committed just one turnover, a season-low for a half.

“We were very efficient in the first half,” said head coach Bob Williams. “We ran our offense well, hit shots and had great balance. That was one of the best first halves we’ve played this season.”

The Titans made it scary in the second half, drawing within 61-51 on a lay-up by Jordan Mason with 8:34 to play. DaJuan Smith made a pair of free throws with 11:41 remaining to give the Gauchos a 61-46 lead, but then they went scoreless for the nearly the next four minutes, a stretch that ended on a put-back by Michael Bryson with 7:48 remaining.

Bryson’s basket started an 8-0 UCSB run. Vincent then scored on a nifty driving lay-up, John Green drained a turnaround bank shot from the right side and Smith scored on a lay-up to make the score 69-51. Steve McClellan hit 1-of-2 free throws with 3:03 to play, ending the Gaucho rally and it was Fullerton’s first score after a drought of 5:31.

Vincent finished with a career-high 19 points, making 8-of-9 shots overall, including 3-for-4 from three-point territory. Williams added 15 points, six rebounds and three blocked shots and Bryson scored 14.

“Gabe was really, really good tonight,” Coach Williams said. “I didn’t think he was going to miss and I was kind of surprised when he did.”

UCSB made just 9-of-27 shots in the second half, 33.3%, but Fullerton matched that percentage by making 8-of-24. The Gauchos finished the game with just seven turnovers and they outrebounded the Titans, 32-28.

Fullerton was led by Lanerryl Johnson who finished with 15 points.

UCSB returns to action on Thursday, Feb. 26 when it hosts league-leading UC Davis in a 7:00 p.m. game at the Thunderdome.