Cold shooting doomed the San Francisco Dons on Tuesday night, as an eight-minute stretch without a basket from the floor laid the way for the visiting UC Santa Barbara Gauchos to head home with a 79-72 victory.
UCSB used a 10-0 run over a five-minute stretch in the second half to take a commanding 72-64 lead, and after a Souley Boum 3-pointer, the first USF field goal in more than eight minutes, cut the score to 72-69 with 55.2 remaining, a foul away from the basket bailed out a would-be shot clock violation, and head coach Kyle Smith was assessed a technical foul for arguing the call. The Gauchos went on to sink three of the four free throws, restoring the two-possession lead and stifling a potential USF comeback.
Until the Dons went cold with nine minutes remaining, it was a tightly-contested affair, with neither team leading by more than five points.
“Credit to Santa Barbara for their defense,” said Smith. “We’re still a little young, we’re just not making shots, and we’ve got to get more confident.”
After converting all nine first-half free throws, USF made just 13 of 20 from the charity stripe in the second half and shot 6-33 on 3-pointers for the game, including 2-17 in the final 20 minutes.
UCSB (5-2) had five scorers in double figures, led by Leland King II’s 21 points. Max Heidegger added 18, and Marcus Jackson, whose 3-pointer gave the Gauchos a 65-64 lead with 6:27 remaining, had 10.
San Francisco (3-2) was led by 17 points apiece from Chase Foster and Souley Boum. Boum went 12-of-14 from the free-throw line.