The UC Santa Barbara Men’s Basketball team (27-8, 15-5 Big West) made their second March Madness appearance in three seasons, coming in as the No. 14 seed. They took on the No. 3 Baylor University Bears at Ball Arena in Denver in hopes of continuing with their record-breaking season. The Gauchos put their all on the court against this tough Big 12 team, but were not able to come out with the win, dropping the game 76-54 to the Bears.
FROM COACH JOE PASTERNACK
“I thought in the first half, we really executed our game plan well. We held Baylor to two-of-seven from three. But in the second half, their defense really picked it up as they forced turnovers and then shot 40 percent from three; that really hurt us. But I am really proud of our guys for fighting and battling not just in this game, but all year. We dealt with a lot of adversity and injuries and I couldn’t be more proud of this group of guys.”
HOW IT HAPPENED
The Gauchos were the first team on the board against this tough Baylor team with a two-point jumper from Ajay Mitchell. As expected, the Bears were not going to allow UC Santa Barbara to run away with this one. Neither team could keep the lead for more than a few minutes as the Gauchos’ well-rounded offense distributed the ball to all players on the court as the team shot at 61.5 percent. With the lead changing 12 times in this first half, it was the Gauchos who were in the lead after the first 20 minutes, topping the Bears 36-35 in the first half.
Once the second half began, Baylor came out even stronger on defense while quickening their pace on offense. Up until the first media timeout of the half, the Gauchos fell behind by four after Baylor made back-to-back shots to take the lead. UC Santa Barbara did not allow Baylor to run away with the game, keeping them within reach until late in the second. Multiple Gauchos were in foul trouble as they tried to find an answer for Baylor, who could not seem to miss a shot. By the time the final buzzer sounded in Ball Arena, Baylor ran away with their lead to win the game with a score of 74-56.
LOOKING AT THE NUMBERS
- Miles Norris led the team in his last game for the Blue and Gold. He put up 15 points, 10 of which came in the second half. He also grabbed four rebounds while securing a team-high two steals and the team’s only block of the game.
- Mitchell was second on the team in points, registering 13 in his first NCAA Tournament appearance. He also dished the ball out the most on offense, recording a team-high four assists.
- Andre Kelly played a big part in the Gauchos’ defense as he grabbed a team-high seven rebounds while also adding on two assists.
The Gauchos finished this season with the most wins in program history with 27 while making their eighth NCAA Tournament. UC Santa Barbara finished the sixth season under Coach Pasternack with an overall record of 27-8.