BAKERSFIELD – Matt Freeman scored a career-high 19 points, including four key free throws in the final 7.5 seconds, to lead UC Santa Barbara to its fourth consecutive win, a 64-60 win at Cal State Bakersfield on Tuesday night.
The Gauchos (5-3) led almost the entire second half, but the Roadrunners (4-6) kept the game close the entire way, cutting the lead to one twice in the final 30.7 seconds.
Czar Perry, who finished with a game-high 23 points, made a reverse lay-up with 30.7 seconds to play to trim the lead to 59-58. UCSB brought the ball in and got it over midcourt before calling timeout.
Out of the timeout, the Roadrunners pressured and forced an errant pass that was tipped and recovered by Justin McCall who got the ball to Taze Moore. Moore drove into the lane and floated a contested lay-up that kissed the front of the rim and was rebounded by Freeman with 7.5 seconds on the clock. The graduate transfer from Oklahoma drained two free throws to extend the lead to 61-58.
Bakersfield got the ball into Perry who dribbled up the sideline where he was fouled by Devearl Ramsey with 6.4 seconds to play. Perry made a pair of free throws to make the score 61-60. After the inbounds, JaQuori McLaughlin was fouled intentionally. He missed the first free throw but, after a timeout, made the second to extend the Gauchos’ lead to 62-60 with 4.8 seconds on the clock.
Once more, the Roadrunners got the ball into Perry who drove up the near sideline, but this time a strong defensive effort by Brandon Cyrus forced him to charge into Robinson Idehen, who was in perfect position. Santa Barbara got the ball into Freeman with 1.4 seconds to play and he was fouled intentionally and he calmly made both free throws to make the score 64-60, which is how the game ended.
“I told my teammates I’ve got this,” Freeman said. “I consider myself one of the team leaders and to bet that, I need to make free throws down the stretch. Tonight I did and this was a big win for us.”
The win was UCSB’s first on the road this season and it came in front of a rabid crowd and against a team that will join the Big West Conference for the 2020-21 season.
“This was a big step for us,” said Gauchos’ head coach Joe Pasternack. “Once again, even with our offense struggling at times, we rebounded and defended. They always say that rebounding and defense travel and we did both tonight. That (Bakersfield) is a well-coached team. Coach Barnes does a great job, so this was a very good win for us.”
The Roadrunners came into the game as the seventh best rebounding team in the nation with an average margin of more than 12 per game, but on this night UCSB had a 35-32 advantage.
Freeman finished 19 points on 4-of-9 shooting overall, including 4-for-5 from three-point range, and 7-of-8 from the free throw line. Amadou Sow had 11 points and a game-high eight rebounds, while McLaughlin added 12 points, five rebounds and three assists.
Perry was the only Roadrunner in double-figures with his 23 points.
UCSB will resume play when it travels to Texas-Arlington on Saturday, Dec. 7 for a game that will tip-off at noon (PST).