Wildcat guard Kellen McCoy was fouled by UCSB’s Will Brew while making an acrobatic scoop shot in the lane with 1:26 to play in the first half. McCoy made the free throw to complete an 11-1 run and give his team its biggest lead of the first half, 37-24.
The Gauchos, who shot just 34.5 percent in the first half, began their rally in the final minute of the half as they scored the last five points. Jesse Byrd rebounded a Sam Phippen miss and was fouled on the follow. He made both free throws to cut the gap to 37-26.
On its final possession of the half, Weber State was forced into a shot clock violation and Santa Barbara took advantage. On an inbounds play under the Gaucho basket, D.J. Posley found Jordan Weiner open deep in the left corner. Weiner made a long three-pointer as the horn sounded to send the game into halftime with the Wildcats leading, 37-29.
UCSB continued its charge early in the second half, using a 14-7 run over the first 6:53 to pull within one, 44-43.
That’s when the rally stalled as the Gauchos, who finished the game shooting 38.6 percent, missed five straight shots with an opportunity to take their first lead since early in the game. Phippen missed a short jumper on one possession, and on the following possession, UCSB missed four shots, all from three-point range by James Powell. Three of the misses followed offensive rebounds, one by Paul Roemer and two by Byrd.
The Wildcats took advantage when McCoy made a three-point basket to make the score 47-43.
UCSB climbed to within two on one more occasion but could never come all the way back.
Chris Devine, who was saddled with foul trouble and played just eight minutes in the first half, finished with a team-high 17 points. Byrd had 10 points and a career-high 14 rebounds, while Posley had a career-high 10 points.
Weber State was led by center Steve Panos, who had a career-high 21. Nick Hansen made three three-point baskets and finished with 13, as did Daviin Davis.
UCSB was particularly cold from three-point range, making just 3-of-15 shots, 20 percent. Weber State hit 6-for-18 from outside the arc, 33.3 percent. Both teams struggled with turnovers as the Gauchos had 17 and the Wildcats 19.
The loss ends Santa Barbara’s two-game winning streak and drops its overall record to 5-5. Weber State improves to 5-4.
The Gauchos will remain on the road when they travel to San Diego State on Saturday for a 1 p.m. game against the Aztecs. The game will be their last before a nine-day break for the holiday.
Bill Mahoney is a UCSB assistant director of athletics communications.