Ajay Mitchell banked in a floater from the right side with 1.9 seconds left to deliver UC Santa Barbara a 65-64 basketball victory over Hawaii tonight in SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center.
The Gauchos improved to 8-1 in the Big West to remain in first place. The ’Bows fell to 15-6 overall and 6-3 in the Big West.
The ’Bows, who trailed by as many as 13, took 64-63 lead on Bernardo da Silva’s layup off a spin move with 2:44 to play.
But in the closing sequence, UH’s Noel Coleman’s scoop shot would not fall with 28 seconds to play, and UCSB’s Andre Kelly rebounded.
After a reset, the Gauchos inbounded with 5.9 seconds left. Mitchell drove the right side and banked in the go-ahead shot for his game-high 24th point with 1.9 seconds to play.
Coleman’s desperation heave was off the mark as the final horn sounded.
The ’Bows scored the game’s first basket and the final one of the first half, but the Gauchos dominated in between in leading 36-27 at the intermission.
Point guard Ajay Mitchell led the way, scoring 14 first-half points on four driving layups and an all-net 3 from the top of the key.
The ’Bows rotated defenders against 6-4 Mitchell, who still found the path to the rim.
The Gauchos used to two surges to claim double-digit leads. A 14-0 run made it 16-2, then an 8-0 streak widened the advantage to 31-18.
The ’Bows made only seven first-half field goals, but hit their first 11 free throws. The Gauchos were 3-for-5 at the line in the first half.