JaQuori McLaughlin scored 16 of his 22 points in the second half to help UC Santa Barbara beat UC Irvine 79-63 and win the Big West Conference tournament on Saturday night.
The Gauchos have won 18 of their last 19 games since losing two games to UCI on December 27 and 28 to open the conference game, and earned their first place in the NCAA tournament since 2011.
McLaughlin hit two threes and Robinson Idehen scored four points in a 10-0 run that gave the gauchos the biggest lead at 59:44 and 8:22. The anteaters, whose winning streak ended in six games, lagged in double digits the rest of the way.
Miles Norris added 19 points and Amadou Sow had 13 points and 11 rebounds for UCSB.
Collin Welp led UCI (18-9) with 22 points and DJ Davis added 11.
UCSB, which led for 37 minutes and 31 seconds, made seven turnovers in the season and scored 18 points out of 10 anteater mistakes.
The gauchos shot 56.7% off the field in the second half, making a total of 29 of 58 attempts.
UC Irvine won the regular season and conference tournament crowns and finished 13th in the 2019 NCAA tournament. The anteaters defeated the number 4 state of Kansas before losing to Oregon in the second round.
UC Davis 61, UC Irvine 42: Former Fairmont Prep star Cierra Hall scored 23 points and Evanne Turner (Fontana) had 22 points when the top seed Aggies pulled out late in the third quarter for their second Big West women’s tournament to win in a row.