The Cal basketball team lost for the first time on the mainland Friday night, falling 72-65 at UC Santa Barbara.
It was the Bears’ first defeat in 11 games against the Gauchos and only their their fifth in 76 games against teams from the Big West Conference.
The outcome could prove troublesome for Cal (6-3), whose previous two defeats came at the hands of Syracuse and Dayton at the Maui Invitational.
The Gauchos, who gave UCLA trouble three days earlier, aren’t a bad team. But come March, the NCAA selection committee may look at this as a bad loss.
Cal led 28-27 at halftime before UCSB junior forward Alan Williams scored 15 of his team’s first 19 points after the break, helping the Gauchos forged a 60-49 lead. Cal got within 66-62, but no closer.
Williams finished with 24 points and 12 rebounds.
“He played like a man on a mission in the second half,” Cal coach Mike Montgomery said. “Obviously this was huge for (UCSB) to beat a Pac-12 school at home. We didn’t step up, and they did.”
Freshman Jordan Mathews scored a career-high 22 points to lead the Bears. Justin Cobbs added 13 points and eight assists, Richard Solomon had nine points and 11 rebounds, but shot just 3 for 11, and David Kravish had 12 points.
Freshman Jabari Bird had perhaps his toughest game of the season, totaling four points.
The Gauchos shot 51 percent, including 59 in the second half. Cal made just 36 percent of its shots.