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College Basketball

Leland King II Sparks UCSB to 4th Straight Basketball Win

Second-half defense plays big part in victory at USF

Leland King II, shown in a game against North Dakota State, had 21 points and 14 rebounds in UCSB’s win at USF. It was the Gauchos’ fourth straight victory. Click to view larger
Leland King II, shown in a game against North Dakota State, had 21 points and 14 rebounds in UCSB’s win at USF. It was the Gauchos’ fourth straight victory. (JC Corliss / Noozhawk file photo)

SAN FRANCISCO – Leland King II recorded a double-double of 21 points and 14 rebounds and helped spark a 10-0 second-half run as visiting UC Santa Barbara defeated the University of San Francisco 79-72 on Tuesday night.

The win was the fourth in a row for the Gauchos. 

A three-point basket from the right corner by Marcus Jackson with 6:29 to play in the game transformed a 64-62 deficit into a 65-64 lead for UCSB (5-2). King followed Jackson's bucket with back-to-back tough hook shots in traffic to push the edge to 69-64, and Max Heidegger was fouled while making a lay-up and made the free throw to complete the rally and make the score 72-64. 

"USF is one of the top three teams in the WCC (West Coast Conference)," said head coach Joe Pasternack. "To come in here and win on the road is a very good win for us. We had a lot of guys who stepped-up and, I thought, one of the differences in the game was our defense in the second half." 

The game was tied 41-41 at halftime, but UCSB limited the Dons (3-2) to 31 points and 26.7% shooting over the final 20 minutes to take control. In fact, after making 3-of-4 three-point attempts to begin the game, USF made just three of its final 29 to finish at 18.2%. 

A three-point basket by Souley Boum with 57 seconds to play capped a mini-rally by the Dons and cut the lead to 72-69. But UCSB made 7-of-10 free throws down the stretch to seal the win. 

"I've said it before, I want to take big shots," King said. "Late in the game, I really wanted the ball and my teammates got it to me. I'm glad I was able to make a couple of shots and get some rebounds."

King finished the game making 9-of-15 shots overall, including 9-of-12 from two-point range. He also made all three of his free throws and set a new Gaucho high with his 14 rebounds. It was his second consecutive double-double. 

Heidegger, who entered the game averaging 25.2 points per game, fifth in the nation, finished with 18 hard-earned points. He was the focus of San Francisco's defensive effort all night and finished 5-for-15 overall and 3-for-8 from beyond the three-point arc. 

"I missed some shots tonight that I would normally make," Heidegger said. "But with this team, there's always someone else who can get it done. Tonight it was Leland and Gabe (Vincent). We all have a lot of confidence in each other. That's what we're all about."

Vincent had 13 points, while Jalen Canty added 12 and Jackson 10, giving UCSB five players in double-figures for the second time in the last three games. 

The Gauchos hit 47.4% of their field goals overall and 6-of-19 from three-point range. They also hit 19-of-24 free throw attempts, 79.2%. 

Boum and Chase Foster led the Dons with 17 points apiece. Foster scored 14 of his points in the first half, but was just 1-for-5 from the field with two points in the second half. Boum did the majority of his damage at the free-throw line. He began the game by making his first 10 free throws, which improved him to 29-of-30 for the season, but he missed a pair during the decisive final minutes. He finished 12-for-14 from the charity stripe.

The four-game winning streak is UCSB's longest since it won nine in a row near the end of the 2015-16 season. The five wins are just one short of the six that the Gauchos recorded during the 2016-17 season and the 5-2 start equals the program's best since it also began 5-2 during the 2011-12 campaign. 

Santa Barbara will host another WCC opponent on Saturday, Dec. 2 when the University of San Diego invades the Thunderdome for a 7 p.m. game. The Toreros are currently 5-0 and will play San Diego State prior to their trip to UCSB. 

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