GAME NOTES: The UC Santa Barbara Gauchos put a two-game win streak on the line as they travel to face the UC Riverside Highlanders in Big West Conference action at the SRC Arena.
Santa Barbara has won two in a row and five of its last six games played. The Gauchos find themselves a game behind UC Irvine in conference play, as both teams take the court Thursday night. The Gauchos won their most recent outing, 79-69, over Cal State Northridge.
UC Riverside has lost four of its last five games, including the latest matchup, 100-69, to Hawaii. Riverside is 1-3 in conference play to start the season - two and a half games back of the Big West leader.
Santa Barbara has a firm grip on the all-time series lead between the two programs, 26-7. The Gauchos took the last matchup in the series, 56-46, in March of 2013.
UC Santa Barbara fell behind to Cal State Northridge, 39-36, early in the second half of their matchup, but used a late momentum swing to take the lead from the Matadors and cruise to victory in conference play. Alan Williams led the Gauchos with 16 points on 7-of-12 shooting from the floor. Michael Bryson chipped in 15 points, Kyle Boswell scored 14 off the bench, and Taran Brown netted 12 points. Sam Beeler also recorded a double-digit point total, netting 10. Santa Barbara shot 50 percent from the field in the contest.
Williams isn't only the leading scorer on the Gauchos roster, he's one of the top scorers in the Big West. His 22.8 ppg on 56.6 shooting from the floor leads the team, as does his 11 rpg average and 2.4 bpg mark. Boswell is second at 11.9 ppg - a much more down-to-Earth total - and Bryson is third at 10.6 ppg. Boswell tops the team with a 3.4 apg average. The Gauchos net 72.5 ppg and only allow 65.1 ppg to their opponents.
UC Riverside fell behind to Hawaii by as many as 40 points, eventually dropping the contest on the road. Sam Finley scored a team-high 19 points on 5-of-14 shooting, but turned the ball over a team-high five times in the loss. Austin Quick came off the bench to score 15, and Chris Patton netted 11. The Highlanders shot just 39.2 percent from the floor, including 17.6 from 3-point distance.
Taylor Johns, who had just four points in the loss to Hawaii, still leads the team in scoring with 12.8 ppg on 33.3 percent shooting from the floor. Patton comes in at second with a 12.6 ppg average, and Finley is third at 10.8 ppg. Johns is the team's top rebounder, with an 8.2 rpg clip and a team-high 35 blocked shots. The Highlanders through 18 games played have averaged 67.4 ppg, but give up 69.4 ppg to their opponents.
Riverside has struggled this season, especially recently, winning just once in five outings. Santa Barbara can take advantage of a weak defense by putting Alan Williams to work under the basket.
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