UC Santa Barbara broke out the black uniforms for the latest installment of the Blue-Green rivalry. The Gauchos honored two seniors — Alan Williams and Zalmico Harmon — and played spirited with a 64-56 win Saturday at The Thunderdome. Bryan Bennett led the Mustangs (13-15, 6-10 Big West) with 14 points in the regular-season finale for both teams. Following the game, the Gauchos (18-12, 11-5 Big West) were still the No. 3 seed heading into next week’s Big West Tournament, with the possibility of jumping up to No. 2. Cal Poly was locked in at No. 7 regardless of Saturday’s results. Here’s five things we learned.
Big Al big on Senior Night
UC Santa Barbara forward Michael Bryson said before the game that it would be a big day for his teammate Al Williams. From the opening tip Williams was dominant. He had five rebounds in the game’s first four-plus minutes and 11 at the half. In the second half he scored 18 points. He finished with game-highs of 26 points and 19 rebounds and received a thunderous ovation from the home crowd.
Coming out for Childress
There was a point in the season when Eric Childress struggled with his shot. That moment has passed. The sophomore guard out of Leuzinger High School provided big minutes off the bench for the Gauchos. His quickness was also evident as he was able to blow past Cal Poly defenders in the half court and in transition. He led the bench with seven points and four rebounds.
The Mustangs received a scare when David Nwaba left the game with a finger injury early in the second half. Nwaba is still working himself back into a rhythm after missing three weeks with an illness. The junior guard was able to return to the game following the injury on Saturday night. He was the lone bright spot for Cal Poly in the first half and finished the game with 10 points on 5-of-8 shooting. His finger, however, will be something to monitor with the conference tournament beginning next week.
Four knee surgeries later, Reese Morgan can still shoot it. He’s persevered through injury throughout his career and is having his best season at Cal Poly, averaging 10.4 points. His jumper is still good and his range remains unlimited.
Big West Tournament coming up
On Thursday, all four quarterfinals will be on Prime Ticket, beginning with regular season champion UC Davis taking on No. 8 CSUN at noon. There’s a possibility UC Santa Barbara can get the No. 2, but they’ll have to wait it out until Saturday night to see if UC Irvine loses at Davis.