SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Olin Carter III and Isaiah Pineiro scored 14 points apiece but it was not enough to overcome two big runs by UC Santa Barbara as San Diego fell, 67-57, to the Gauchos on Saturday night.
Pineiro, Carter III and Isaiah Wright each hit double-digits in points but the Toreros (5-2) had trouble getting going offensively overall throughout the night. The Toreros shot 21 of 58 (36.2 percent) from the floor, including a 6 of 26 (23.1 percent) clip from three-point range. USD struggled at the free throw line, going 9 for 23 (39.1 percent).
“We shot a lot of foul shots in practice yesterday and today, we just have to get up to the line and shoot with more confidence,” said Smith. “We need to focus more, get in the gym on our own and get back to making shots.”
The Gauchos (6-2) capitalized with runs of 13-4 in the first half and 15-4 in the second to take command of the game and play with a lead for a majority of the game.
The Toreros defense held UCSB to nine points under its season average and limited the Gauchos bench to one point. However, USD could not slow down UCSB’s starters which were led by Max Heidegger (21 points) and Leland King II (18 points).
The Toreros got off to a slow start, going 2 for 10 to open the first half. Back-to-back three pointers by Carter III got USD going and gave the Toreros a 15-10 lead with 8:40 to play in the half. The Gauchos responded with a 13-4 run over a 4:28 span to retake the lead 23-19.
Wright split a pair of free throws at the end of the half to cut USD’s deficit to, 32-25.
The Toreros came out hot in the second half and produced a 7-0 run to erase their deficit. USD then took a 35-34 lead on a free throw by Pineiro but UCSB followed with a 15-4 run to retake the lead 49-39.
USD continued to battle and a Carter III three-pointer with 7:09 to play cut the deficit to 49-48. The Gauchos responded with back-to-back three pointers of their own to stretch the lead back out to 55-48.
With UCSB leading by eight, Wright scored on consecutive possessions to make it a four-point game, 61-57, with 1:12 to play. That’s the closest the Toreros would get, however, as the Gauchos finished the game on a 6-0 run to seal its 67-57 win.
“One of the toughest things in the sport, especially with a young team that hasn’t had success, is learning how to handle success and understand that when you have success, people are going to come after you,” said Smith. “We haven’t handled that well this week.”
The Toreros will look to get back on track Wednesday at 6 p.m. PT when they travel to New Mexico State.
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