HONOLULU – The UCSB men’s basketball team dropped a tough road matchup on the island Saturday night falling to host Hawai’i 65-62.
Freshman guard Ajay Mitchell led the way with 16 points off of 5-of-9 shooting to go with two assists and boards.
Senior center Amadou Sow added a 13 point-13 rebound double-double, his second of the year.
UCSB won the turnover battle 10 to 14 and outscored UH in the paint 30 to 22.
During the first half, the Gauchos found 21 of its first half points in the paint compared to just six for UH and they outshot the Rainbow Warriors 43% to 26% holding the host team to its lowest first half mark of the season.
UCSB got out to a dominant start, jumping on a 13-2 run and pouring in another quick 10 to go up 23-4 in the first 10 minutes of the game. Nineteen points was the largest margin of the game.
Then came the Hawai’i defense stepping up in the final 10 minutes, holding the Gauchos scoreless for several minutes as the Bows chipped away at the lead. By the time the buzzer blew UH trailed by just 11 at 30-19.
Sow finished the half with nine points and eight rebounds, Ajare Sanni added seven points and three assists, and Calvin Wishart came off the bench to grab five boards.
Foul trouble, missed free throws, and an injury to Sanni plagued the Gauchos in the second half as the Bows chipped away and eventually took its first lead of the game with just over eight minutes to go.
It was a tight race late, with the deficit equaling five or less for the final two minutes but there just wasn’t enough time for the Gauchos as the Bows made the bulk of their late free throws to stay ahead.
UH did what it does best in the second period, making 7-of-10 threes as the host team won its seventh straight contest to remain unbeaten in Big West play.
UCSB now returns home to hopefully play its first home game since Dec. 22 when the Anteaters from UC Irvine come to the Thunderdome on Thursday.
Daniel Moebus-Bowles writes about sports for UCSB.