Gauchos want to bounce back vs. Rainbows after OT loss
HONOLULU — UCSB will try to put the disappointment of Thursday’s overtime heartbreak far behind tonight — about 2,470 miles behind.
The Gauchos, who lost the chance to take the lead in the Big West Conference basketball race with their 66-62 defeat to UC Irvine, will battle for second tonight at the University of Hawaii.
Tipoff at the Stan Sheriff Center is at 10 p.m. PST.
“We’re going to watch film of (the Irvine game), get it out of our system and get it over with, and then move on to Hawaii,” coach Joe Pasternack said. “When you have such a young and inexperienced team, you never really know how they will respond, because they fought their hearts out.
“I’m so proud of them, how they performed. We’ve just got to be able to have a quick recovery.”
The winner of tonight’s game will move into a tie for second place with Cal State Fullerton, which is idle tonight.
The Gauchos (15-5, 4-2 Big West) haven’t lost back-to-back games all year.
“I thought last week, we responded great at Long Beach State (after a loss at Cal State Fullerton),” Pasternack said. “They’re a high-character group of guys that are hungry, so that’s what I’m going on right now.
“You can’t control travel and all of the scheduling, but it just is what it is.”
Hawaii (13-7, 4-2), however, is coming off consecutive blow-out home victories — by 19 points over UC Davis and 17 over Long Beach State.
The Rainbow Warriors did feel the sting of their own overtime, home loss to UC Irvine, starting their current four-game homestand with a 75-74 defeat to the Anteaters.
“We’ll have our work cut out for us,” Pasternack said. “Hawaii is tough at home. I think they’re one of the top three teams in our league right now.”
Hawaii, like UCSB, has a balanced attack, with four players around double-figure scoring.
Eddie Stansbury, a 6-foot-3 junior guard, tops the team with a 12.7-point average. He’s made 58 three-pointers at a 36.2-percent clip. He’s joined in the starting backcourt by Drew Buggs, the Big West assist leader with 5.7 per game, and Sheriff Drameh, a 6-3 senior who shoots 34 percent from three.
Reserve guard Brock Stepteau plays starter’s minutes, with averages of 9.4 points and three assists per game.
“Buggs is a guy who gets more to the rim, but the others can really shoot,” Pasternack said. “Sherrif has really improved his three-point shot, and Stansbury is a juco transfer from San Francisco who we recruited last year.
“He makes like three threes a game, so they have a lot of offensive firepower and they’re very well-coached.”
Their best long-range shooter is actually forward Jack Purchase, a 6-9 senior from Australia who scores 11.7 points on 36.4 percent from three. He also pulls down 6.4 rebounds.
“He’s one of the best three-point shooters in the history of their school,” Pasternack pointed out. “They have a big man, Zigmars (Raimo, a 6-8 junior from Latvia), who can really score in the post (11.6 points, 6.7 rebounds).”
UCSB’s top scorers are 6-6 graduate transfer Ar’Mond Davis (14.3 points), 6-foot sophomore Devearl Ramsey (11.9), 6-3 sophomore JaQuori McLaughlin (11.4), and 6-9 freshman Amadou Sow (10.5).
But they all played more minutes than usual on Thursday, with McLaughlin logging 41, and Ramsey and Max Heidegger putting in 38 each.
“We’ve got to be able to utilize our depth better,” Pasternack said, “but when guys come in, they’ve got to be able to produce.”