Robinson Idehen marked Amadou Sow down for an assist even though his UCSB teammate sat out Thursday’s basketball game with a minor injury.
Idehen, Sow’s backup on the post, became the center of attention while scoring a game-high 21 points in the Gauchos’ record-setting, 123-52 victory over Bethesda at the Thunderdome.
“I battle him every single day,” Idehen said of Sow, a two-time All-Big West Conference selection. “Everybody tells me how good I’ve gotten, but I wouldn’t have gotten this good if I didn’t have Amadou as a teammate… and if I didn’t have this group of guys around me.
“So I’m really thankful for Amadou being on the team, and all the guys.”
All the guys got plenty of playing time in the rout, which produced the largest margin of victory in school history. The 71-point difference was eight better than the record that UCSB set against Bethesda nearly two years ago.
The Gauchos’ 123 total points also tied the school mark set during the 1970-71 season against Cal Poly Pomona. UCSB shattered the school mark for assists, as well, with 34.
“We’ve got a lot of unselfish guys,” said junior transfer Miles Norris. “We’ve got a lot of scorers but they can pass the ball, too. Guys being unselfish and sharing the ball gets guys open shots.”
Norris made 6-of-7 attempts for 13 points. His eight rebounds tied Idehen for the team high even though they both only played 14 minutes in the easy victory.
“Coach (Joe) Pasternack is on me every day at practice about defensive rebounding — and offensive rebounding, as well,” Norris said. “He just wants me to crash the glass, don’t take any possessions off.”
Idehen was the towering inferno during the first two minutes and 45 seconds, converting three offensive rebounds into baskets, which included a put-back off his own miss. UCSB out-rebounded the Flames 57-12 in the game and 31-3 in the first half.
Idehen added a layup off Norris’ fast-break pass as UCSB led 11-0 at the 17:15 mark. Idehen led Bethesda 8-0 by that same time. The 6-foot-10 senior, six inches taller than the Flames’ biggest player, made 10-of-11 shots.
“I’m always pumped up, every game — before every single game — but I was especially excited to start,” he said.
JaQuori McLaughlin, who was held out of Sunday’s opener because of a pulled muscle, made his first two three-point attempts and assisted two other baskets to send the Gauchos out to a 29-3 lead after just six and a half minutes. He wound up going 3-for-5 from three for nine points and led UCSB with seven assists and no turnovers.
UCSB got hot from three late in the first half with consecutive bombs by Josh Pierre-Louis, Ajare Sanni and Destin Barnes. The 85-second outburst put the Gauchos ahead 56-11 with 5:06 still left in the period.
The dazzle was soon to follow, with Pierre-Louis scoring off a double-clutch drive and Norris adding a whirling scoop shot as the lead grew to 65-16 by halftime.
Pierre-Louis, a sophomore transfer from Temple, scored 17 points and got seven rebounds in just 17 minutes.
“We coach him very hard,” Pasternack said. “I coach him like a lot of the guys I had at Arizona that have so much potential. But the details of the game have to be taught and coached and demanded, and he’s very coachable that way.”
UCSB out-shot the Flames 75% to 22.2% in the first half and 68.1% to 32.7% for the game.
Senior point guard Devearl Ramsey kept the Gauchos rolling to start the second half with back-to-back assists to Norris — the first for a three, the second for an alley-oop dunk. He finished with six assists and 11 points.
“Devearl has really stepped up to help our chemistry,” Pasternack said. “He’s shooting the ball really, really well. And tonight he had six assists and zero turnovers, and the other night he had seven assists and one turnover. That’s a big deal.”
McLaughlin and Idehen then played a game of catch: the senior guard lobbed to the senior center for a layup, and Idehen returned the favor with a kick-out pass that McLaughlin converted with his third three for a 79-23 lead.
A few minutes later, Pierre-Louis saw a seam in the middle of Bethesda’s defense and drove straight through it before reaching back for a vicious tomahawk dunk.
UCSB got its 100th point with 8:52 still to go — and even that was a second-chance point. A lane violation on Jakov Kukic’s missed free throw gave him an extra attempt, and he sank it for a 100-35 lead.
The Gaucho reserves out-scored the starters 69-54, with Jacksonville transfer Destin Barnes contributing 11 points.
“We have a lot of talented guys,” Pasternack said, “but sharing the basketball and being unselfish is who we have to be.”