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College Basketball

UCSB Holds On Down Stretch, Beats Prairie View A&M for 3rd Straight

The UC Santa Barbara men's basketball team continued to feast on Friday night, collecting its third straight win in a 69-66 thriller over Prairie View A&M in the Thunderdome.

Max Heidegger stuffed the stat sheet with 30 points on 9-of-15 from the field and Leland King II added a 15-point, 13-rebound double-double to help the Gauchos (4-2) overcome poor free-throw shooting and 16 turnovers.

"It's tough to play a team like Prairie View," said head coach Joe Pasternack. "They press you and really deny and make you uncomfortable on offense."

It looked as though the Gauchos would gobble up the Panthers (2-4) after taking an early 27-11 lead, fueled by a trio of three-pointers from Heidegger. But Prairie View responded in a big way by scoring 19 unanswered points and took a 30-28 lead into the break.

"For us to have 16 turnovers, and 10 in the first half, was part of the reason why it was so close," said Pasternack. "Our turnovers led to their easy lay-ups."

Free-throw shooting did not help either, as UCSB shot just 16-for-29 (55.2 percent) from the line just one game after going 28-for-35 (80 percent).

The Panthers struggled from the line as well, going just 10-for-21 (47.6 percent).

After being held without a field goal for the final seven minutes of the first half, the Gauchos needed a boost to start the second half, and Heidegger provided just that. On the first possession, the sophomore guard buried his fourth triple of the game and, after a King jumper, added a breakaway lay-up to cap a quick 7-0 spurt to put UCSB back on top 35-30.

"Every game he (Heidegger) just gets better and better," said Pasternack. "He's proving that he's not just a shooter. He can drive the ball and he's just a complete competitor. I think that's the best way to describe him. He competes every single day, whether it's in practice or games and he's a pure scorer."

The Gauchos went up by as many as 10 points in the second half, after taking a 44-34 lead on a Gabe Vincent three-pointer at the 14:15 mark, but Prairie View would not go away. The Panthers answered with a 10-0 run to even the score at 44-44 midway through the half, and both teams would trade baskets for the remainder of the game.

Despite the poor free-throw shooting throughout, Vincent knocked down a pair of crucial free-throws to give UCSB a 66-65 lead with 2:37 remaining. Neither team would make a field goal down the stretch, combining to go 0-for-6, but Marcus Jackson, Heidegger and King each went one-of-two from the line (3-for-6) while Prairie View went just 1-of-4 from the stripe in the final two minutes. With a few seconds left on the clock, the Panthers heaved up a half court prayer, but it hit the back of the rim and came out to give the Gauchos the victory.

Jalen Canty had a strong all-around game with seven points, nine rebounds and five blocks while Vincent notched double-figures with 11 points. Jackson finished with a game-high seven assists to go with six rebounds and four points.

Prairie View A&M was led by Gary Blackston, who finished with 21 points, nine rebounds and five assists, and Zachary Hamilton, who tallied 19 points with four three-pointers.

UCSB returns to action this Tuesday, Nov. 28 on the road against San Francisco at 7:00 p.m. 

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