Long Beach State may have a new nickname, but one thing is the same:
The team formerly known as 49ers still owns UCSB’s Thunderdome.
The Beach held the Gauchos to just three points in the final eight-plus minutes to rally for its fifth-straight victory at UCSB.
“It’s not them,” Gaucho point guard Devearl Ramsey said. “It’s always about us.”
UCSB (12-5, 1-1 Big West Conference) frittered away a six-game winning streak by committing a season-high 17 turnovers. The Gauchos had won 11 of their previous 12.
“College basketball, there is so much parity,” UCSB coach Joe Pasternack said. “Stephen F. Austin goes into Duke and beats them. Evansville goes into Kentucky and beats them. Florida A&M goes to Iowa State and beats them.
“We’re not Duke and Kentucky and Iowa State. Every single night, any single team in our conference can beat us. If we’re not on, we have no margin of error.”
Long Beach (6-12, 1-1) has had trouble beating anyone the last two months, losing eight of its previous 10 — and that included Division 2 Cal State Los Angeles. The Beach’s inexperience did rear its ugly head at times Saturday with 18 turnovers, but it also shot 50%.
Chance Hunter lead all scorers with 16 points and showed he owns UCSB’s backboards by banking in three-pointer from the corner for The Beach’s first lead with five minutes to go. His team would never trail again.
“That’s a tough shot,” Ramsey said. “Shots like that go in but we have to contain more shots.”
The Gaucho offense hit a wall with eight-plus minutes to go, missing 11 of its last 12 shots and 2-of-3 free throws. UCSB shot 32% for the game.
Max Heidegger, who had missed the previous 10 games because of a concussion, made the Gauchos’ only basket in the final eight minutes, tying the game with 4:39 to go. But his missed a three at the buzzer that would’ve tied the game.
“We had three or four options,” Pasternack said. “They took away two of our options, so that’s who was open.”
Amadou Sow scored 15 points on 6-for-9 shooting, but he fumbled away several balls while committing a season-high seven turnovers.
“I wish I could explain,” Pasternack said. “I can’t.”
Matt Freeman added four turnovers.
“When your front line has 11, you’re not going to win any games,” Pasternack said. “And when you give up 50% in conference play, you’re not going to win.
JaQuori McLaughlin also scored 15 points while Ramsey added 10 with five assists and no turnovers.
The first six minutes were a comedy of errors for both teams. The Gauchos committed four turnovers by that time while the 49ers were even worse with five.
UCSB was able to scrounge a 5-2 lead when Sow converted a three-point play as well as a put-back off his own miss.
McLaughlin pumped in back-to-back three-pointers to increase the Gauchos’ margin to 11-4. But more turnovers stunted their surge. They had eight by halftime.
“We’ve got to come out and execute the game plan,” Ramsey said. “It starts in practice, it starts in walk-throughs, and we’ve got to come out with that fire we know we have and take the game away from them.”
Long Beach, which gave away 12 of its first-half possessions with turnovers, was still able to draw within 14-12 on a running bank shot by Drew Cobb.
A three by Freeman opened up some space underneath the 49ers’ zone the next time downcourt. Sow cashed it in with a dunk off McLaughlin’s pass for a 21-15 lead.
Ramsey’s second three of the half and Heidegger’s first basket since November off a runner kept the margin at seven, 28-21.
Long Beach, which out-shot UCSB 50% to 41.7% in the first half, got within 30-25 by the break on Hunter’s basket.
Freeman made a three to start the second half. Sow scored a pair of layups off passes from Ramsey to keep UCSB ahead 41-36.
The Gauchos were still ahead 49-45 after four free throws by Ramsey and a three by McLaughlin. But the Gauchos went the next five minutes without a basket.
“We had an off night offensively,” Pasternack said. “When you do that, you’ve got to have a great defense. And we didn’t.”
Long Beach finally took its first lead with five minutes to go, 52-50, after a runner by Colin Slater and Hunter’s three-point bank from an improbable angle in the right corner.
“They made tough shots, great credit to them,” Ramsey said
Heidegger answered with a turnaround jumper in the key to tie the game with 4:39 left, but UCSB missed its next six shots and a free throw.
The Gauchos’ 15th turnover of the game off a bad pass gave Michael Carter III an unopposed layup for a 54-52 lead with 2:24 to go.
UCSB shot 19 free throws to 3 for The Beach, a discrepancy that Long Beach coach Dan Monson kept reciting to the referees. But he did get a crucial call with 17.2 seconds remaining when Carter stepped to the side in front of McLaughlin to draw a charging call.
Pasternack argued loudly at the time but did not continue the argument during the post-game interviews.
“I haven’t watched film yet,” Pasternack said. “I will … but it’s a judgment call. When you put a game in the hands of human beings, that’s a problem.
“We should never have had the game in the hands of human beings.”
Jordan Roberts was fouled with 15.6 seconds remaining and made 1-of-2 free throws, giving The Beach a three-point lead.
Sow missed a three, but the ball went out of bounds off a Long Beach player, giving 3.2 seconds for another shot at overtime.
Ramsey inbounded to Heidegger who launched an off-balance three that glanced off the rim.
“The guys went to the corner — the guy cut off Matt Freeman, and Heid was open,” Ramsey said. “It was a good shot for us at the end of the game. We’ll take that shot.”