UCSB takes down Washington 83-78 behind 17 from Bryson
SEATTLE (AP) What was supposed to be Washington's final tune up before the start of Pac-12 Conference play instead became UC Santa Barbara's reward after enduring a difficult non-conference schedule.
Led by Michael Bryson's 17 points and key points late from Gabe Vincent, the Gauchos got a chance to celebrate winning on the home floor of a Pac-12 opponent for the first time in a dozen years after beating the Huskies 83-78 on Monday night.
It was the second straight win for UCSB (4-7) following a five-game losing streak that included losses to Arizona State and USC. The loss to the Sun Devils stung because the Gauchos led by five with 90 seconds left only to lose on a shot in the final moments.
But it was clearly an experience UCSB learned from.
''We are growing up. We are getting smarter about how we play the game,'' UCSB coach Bob Williams said. ''We've gotten very humbled by our start. Losing is gnarly and I think we have a hungry group that's trying to fight and stay in games.''
The Gauchos won on the floor of a Pac-12 opponent for the first time since a December 2003 win at UCLA. They knocked off a Pac-12 team for the first time since beating Washington State in 2014 at the Great Alaska Shootout.
UCSB got a boost of confidence before the start of Big West Conference play on Jan. 9. They led by as many as 10 in the second half only to watch Washington pull within one possession on a number of occasions. But the Huskies could never pull in front.
''That's the toughness we're trying to come in with,'' Vincent said. ''To come into their house, a Pac-12 school, we knew how they could play. They were going to make runs. It was how we would respond. We had to respond well and hold them.''
Vincent scored six of his 14 points in the final two minutes, including a leaning 15-footer as the shot clock expired with 1:01 remaining that gave the Gauchos a 79-74 lead. After Washington's Matisse Thybulle scored to make it a one-possession game, Andrew Andrews – who had just four of his 14 points in the second half – missed a forced 3-pointer in transition with 20 seconds remaining that could have pulled the Huskies even.
Mitch Brewe, a Seattle native, grabbed the rebound for UCSB and hit a pair of free throws for an 81-76 lead with 17.5 seconds left. Malik Dime scored for Washington but Vincent added two more free throws with nine seconds left to clinch the victory.
''Our ability to concentrate for longer periods of time has to be better and that's one thing we're doing better now,'' Williams said. ''Their focus is better, more sustained for longer periods of time and we're getting more guys giving us production.''
David Crisp and Dime led Washington (8-4) with 17 points each, but the Huskies lost for the second time in three games to close non-conference play after falling at home to Oakland on Dec. 19. Washington trailed 73-63 with 5:13 left on Monday but scored eight straight points to have a chance in the closing moments.
Dejounte Murray had 15 points, six rebounds and six assists for Washington, but missed all five 3-point attempts. The Huskies were 6 of 27 on 3-pointers, settling for too many shots from deep against UCSB's zone defense.
''We're a new group so I feel like we have to get over that hump of finding that spark and to play with if we don't see the ball going through the hoop,'' Crisp said.
UCSB took advantage of Washington's sluggish starts to both halves. The Huskies missed their first nine shots to open the game and didn't score their first field goal for more than eight minutes. They rebounded to pull within 38-36 at halftime, but the Gauchos started the second half on a 10-2 run.
UCSB: The Gauchos are now 5-26 against Pac-12 opponents dating back to 1996. … UCSB previously lost at California (85-67), at home to Oregon State (71-59) and USC (75-63) and at Arizona State (70-68) before Monday's win.
Washington: Andrews has scored in double figures in 23 straight games. … Dime's previous career-high was 10 points.
UCSB: The Gauchos stay in the area and play Seattle on Wednesday.
Washington: The Huskies open Pac-12 play on Friday night hosting No. 25 UCLA.