Gauchos Good As Gold
UCSB sets up matchup of last two Big West Tournament Winners.
The second Big West Semi Final featured Co-Champs UC Santa Barbara taking on a UC Riverside coming off a victory over UC Davis. Although small underdogs, the Highlanders wasted no time, jumping on top of the Gauchos 13-2, right out the gate. Lachlan Olbrich rebounded from a subpar game against Davis, to score 7 quick points. The Gauchos would respond by going on a 9 – 2 run to tie the game at 23. Riverside guard Zyon Pullin got hot late in the 1st half, scoring 8 points in a four-minute stretch. The senior guard used an array of step-back moves to knock down 4 buckets during the stretch. The game would go back and forth, with the Gauchos regaining the lead behind the play of Josh Pierre – Louis. The senior guard was everywhere, cutting and slashing to the hoop. His layup would put the Gauchos up by 5 late in the period, but Riverside would quickly respond with a layup from Wil Tattersall. The game was tied late in the second half, when Flynn Cameron hit a buzzer-beating three to send the Highlanders into the locker room up 3.
The second half featured some high-level basketball, as each team’s, stars took center stage. There was Ajay Mitchell’s layup that put the Gauchos up one, then a Zyon Pullin jumper to give the Highlanders back the lead. After a Pullin And One cut the lead to three, Miles Norris sank a three for the Gauchos. to put them back up by 6. Pullin would hit another jumper with 3:05 to go to cut it to two, but Ajay Mitchell would respond with a jumper of his own. After Calvin Wishart made a jumper, he came up with another possession for the Gauchos, throwing a loose ball off Jaylon Martinez. The game looked to be over after Miles Norris made two free throws, however, Wil Tattersall’s three kept the Highlanders’ hopes alive, cutting the lead to three. Riverside had one more chance when Pullin hit a jumper to bring it back to a one score game, but Ajay Mitchell iced it at the line, sending th Gauchos to the title game.
UCSB will take on a Fullerton team that they split with in the season, in a matchup of the last two Big West Conference Winners.