November 30, 2022

DCTRS

Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

March Madness: UC Santa Barbara loses to Creighton

The upset, and the rare moment of national glory, was UC Santa Barbara’s for the taking.

Swarmed on the wing, star guard JaQuori McLaughlin split two defenders with a pass that found forward Amadou Sow in the paint in the final seconds of the Gauchos’ first-round NCAA tournament game against Creighton.

Sow had given his team a one-point lead on a similar sequence only moments earlier, taking a pass from McLaughlin and making two free throws after getting fouled.

This time, he had a much cleaner look at the basket. The ball soared toward the rim. It bounced out with three seconds left.

The dream died with it.

The Gauchos walked slowly, dejectedly off the Lucas Oil Stadium court Saturday after a 63-62 loss to No. 5 seed Creighton that could have easily gone the way of the No. 12 seed making its first appearance in the NCAA tournament in a decade.

Sow’s free throws had given Santa Barbara (22-5) a 62-61 lead with 37 seconds left before the Bluejays (21-8) dribbled the ball into the frontcourt and called timeout. Creighton’s Damien Jefferson missed a jumper but teammate Christian Bishop was there to grab the rebound with 17 seconds left on a failed box out.

Almost immediately, Sow fouled Bishop and Bishop made both ends of the one-and-one. That led to McLaughlin’s pass and Sow’s missed shot that was rebounded by Creighton’s Shereef Mitchell.

The Gauchos hacked Mitchell in desperation with 1.5 seconds left. He missed the front end of the one-and-one but it didn’t matter after a three-quarters-court heave by Santa Barbara’s Brandon Cyrus was off the mark.

McLaughlin and Miles Norris scored 13 points each to lead the Gauchos.

Guard Marcus Zegarowski scored 17 points to lead Creighton, which will face either No. 4 seed Virginia or No. 13 seed Ohio in the second round on Monday. The Gauchos now have a 1-5 record in the NCAA tournament, their one victory coming over Houston in the first round in 1990.