No one wants to play a first-round game and, certainly, no one wants to lose one either.
So since fifth-seeded UC Santa Barbara had to be in the Anaheim Convention Center anyway, it went ahead and took out No. 8 UC Riverside, 76-44, in a Big West Conference tournament game Wednesday.
Cecil Brown had 12 points to lead five Gauchos in double figures, and Cameron Goettsche tied the team record with six blocks. Santa Barbara (15-13) will play fourth-seeded Cal Poly San Luis Obispo tonight.
"The way things turned out, we could not have drawn it up much better," Coach Bob Williams said. "We were able to rest some guys, and it was important that some of the guys off the bench, who hadn't played much the last month and a half, were able to gain some confidence."
Riverside (5-23) got 13 points from Rickey Porter.
Season-ending injuries to Justin Bell and Dedrick Bates, key players for Riverside, made it tough for first-year Coach David Spencer.
"It felt like we basically re-invented this team three different times," Spencer said. "We knew going into this [season] we didn't have much margin for error."
The teams were even after 12 minutes, 19-19, but the Gauchos outscored the Highlanders, 15-5, over the remainder of the first half. Most telling: 17 Gaucho points came off 13 turnovers.
Things totally unraveled for Riverside in the second half. The Highlanders made the first two baskets, then were outscored, 19-2, over the next six minutes to fall behind, 53-30.
Riverside out-rebounded Santa Barbara, 46-35, but could not overcome 25 turnovers and 26.7% shooting (16 for 60).
-- Mike Terry