Coach Joe Pasternack referred to JaQuori McLaughlin as “a big-time player” after the senior guard led UCSB to Saturday’s 75-63 men’s basketball victory at Pepperdine.
His league called him something else on Monday: Big West Conference Player of the Week.
It was McLaughlin’s first Big West POW Award of this year and the third of his Gaucho career. He’s started all 66 games he’s played at UCSB since transferring from Oregon State after his freshman year.
The 6-foot-4 guard scored 23 points — one off his career high — while making 7-of-11 shots including a three-pointer at Pepperdine. He helped the Gauchos pull away by scoring 14 in the second half.
He also handed out a career-high eight assists. He leads the Big West in both assists per game (6.0) and assist-to-turnover ratio (4.80), ranking 28th and 18th, respectively, in those categories, nationally.
McLaughlin also ranks fourth in the Big West in scoring average (18.0 points per game), fifth in field-goal percentage (55.26%), and fourth in three-point percentage (47.62%),
UCSB (4-1) will return to action on Sunday and Monday to open Big West play with consecutive games at defending champion UC Irvine.
Gauchos ranked No. 8 in baseball
UCSB, which returns virtually its entire roster from last season, is ranked No. 8 in Collegiate Baseball’s Fabulous 50 NCAA Division 1 Preseason Poll presented by Big League Chew bubble gum. It is the highest preseason ranking in the program’s history.
“Obviously, the game isn’t played on paper, but we like our group and are anxious to get on the field and test ourselves against outside competition,” coach Andrew Checketts said.
The Gauchos were 13-2 last year, with wins over No. 1 UCLA and three straight over nationally ranked Oregon State, when the rest of the season was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The NCAA granted all players an extra season of eligibility, prompting all of UCSB’s players to return.
It’s pitching staff posted an earned run average of 1.84 to tie Vanderbilt for best in the nation. Returning from its starting rotation is Santa Ynez High graduate Zach Torra (3-0 record, 0.36 ERA, 39 strikeouts in 25.1 innings), Michael McGreevey (2-0, 0.99 ERA, 26 strikeouts in 27.1 innings), Rodney Boone (2-1, 2.53 ERA, 31 strikeouts in 21.1 innings) and Conner Roberts (4-0, 2.04 ERA, 24 strikeouts in 17.2 innings).
The Gauchos, who were defending Big West champions, outscored their opponents 96-33 last season. They have a combined record of 58-13 the last two seasons.
Florida was ranked No. 1 in the preseason poll, followed by Vanderbilt, UCLA, Texas Tech, Mississippi, Miami (Fla.), LSU and then UCSB.
Also ranked from the West were Arizona (10th), Arizona State (15th), Pepperdine (33rd), UC Irvine (42nd), Long Beach State (44th), Oregon State (49th) and Stanford (50th). Among those receiving votes were Big West members Cal State Fullerton, UC San Diego, Cal State Northridge and Cal Poly.
Westmont falls to Pacific, 92-64
Westmont men’s basketball started fast but could not keep Pacific off the backboards in a 92-64 defeat to the Tigers at Murchison Gymnasium on Sunday. The Warriors counted the game as an exhibition.
Pacific won the rebounding battle, 57-29.
“I thought they made good adjustments to what we were getting, but they’re a tough team to play,” Westmont coach Landon Boucher said. “They slow it down and they’re also bigger, so we had a hard time speeding the game up, especially when we got down.”
Senior transfer Ajay Singh scored all 12 of his team-high points in the second half. Abram Carrasco added 11 points.
Sunday marked the first time Westmont men’s basketball played host to an NCAA Division I opponent since Jan. 27, 1972, when the Warriors overcame a 16-point deficit to defeat No. 14 Hawaii, 90-89. That game was played the night after head coach Tom Byron passed away from terminal cancer.
The next game on the Warriors’ schedule is their Golden State Athletic Conference opener at Hope International on Jan. 23, although they are still trying to add contests.