ANAHEIM, Calif. -- UC Santa Barbara got 15 points from its season scoring leader, Orlando Johnson, and took its first step toward winning a third straight Big West title with a 72-52 victory over Pacific on Thursday in the opening round of the conference tournament at the Honda Center.
The third-seeded Gauchos (19-9) advance to the Big West semifinals Friday against No. 4 seed Cal Poly, which defeated UC Riverside 66-54 Thursday. Sixth-seeded Pacific finished 11-19.
Johnson, a senior guard who was named to the all-conference first team for the third straight season, hit a pair of 3-pointers and had four steals. Kyle Boswell scored 12 points off the bench.
Lorenzo McCloud led Pacific with 14 points, including four 3-pointers.