Matt Formisano scored on a put-back with three seconds left to give visiting Utah State a 61-59 lead over the UCSB men’s basketball team Monday night. Gaucho guard Jordan Weiner missed a desperation shot from above the top of the key at the buzzer, and the Aggies held on for the win.
UCSB (1-1), which trailed Utah State (2-0) by as many as 12 points twice in the second half, rallied from a nine-point deficit with 4:15 to play. After Jaxon Myaer hit a three-pointer to give the Aggies a 59-50 lead, the Gauchos ran off nine straight points.
First, it was freshman center Greg Somogyi on an alley-oop slam dunk off a perfect feed from Powell. That cut the gap to 59-52 with 3:53 to go. After a pair of misses on the other end, forward Chris Devine was fouled on a rebound, sending him to the line for a one-plus-one. The senior made both free throws to make it 59-54 with 2:49 remaining.
On the next possession for the Aggies, Tyler Newbold missed a 10-foot jumper and Somogyi collected the rebound. He got the ball to Powell, who drove the baseline for a layup to make the score 59-54. Utah State’s Myaer missed another jumper and D.J. Posley came down with the rebound. With 1:20 left, Powell missed a three-pointer in transition and Gary Wilkinson rebounded for the Aggies.
As Utah State was working into its offense, Posley fouled Jared Quayle on the perimeter, sending him to the line for a one-plus-one. Quayle missed the free throw, and when Somogyi rebounded, the Gauchos had another chance, but on the other end, Devine missed a layup and Wilkinson gathered his eighth rebound of the game.
After a timeout by the Aggies, with 31 seconds left, Posley came up with his third steal of the game and got the ball ahead to Powell. This time, the UCSB junior’s three-point attempt found nothing but net, tying the score at 59-59 with 29 seconds left.
Utah State brought the ball in, and after working 20 seconds off the clock, called timeout with nine seconds to play, setting the stage for the miss by Wilkinson and the put-back by Formisano.
Santa Barbara played from behind almost the entire second half, taking its only lead at 41-39 with 12:47 left to play.
The Gauchos were led by Devine and Powell, who each had a game-high 14 points. Jesse Byrd had a career-high eight points, and he led UCSB with five rebounds. Utah State was paced by sophomore Tai Wesley, who had 12 points and eight rebounds before fouling out. Wilkinson and Myaer each added 11 points, and Wilkinson had eight boards.
As was the case in the season-opener against Cal State Los Angeles, the Gaucho freshmen played an important part in the game. Will Brew finished with two points, a game-high five assists and three steals. He was a defensive catalyst during the team’s second half rally. Somogyi had four points, four rebounds and a blocked shot. Jaime Serna had two points and four rebounds, and James Nunnally had three-points and a pair of rebounds.
The Gauchos were outrebounded for the game, 36-25, but they forced the Aggies into 22 turnovers. UCSB had just 12 turnovers.
Santa Barbara returns to the court at 7 p.m. Friday, when it hosts No. 1 North Carolina at the Thunderdome. The game is sold out.
Bill Mahoney is a UCSB assistant director of athletics communications.