OTTAWA, Ontario - This is UC Santa Barbara's 2011 tour of eastern Canada, but the lead to the story could have been written at any point in the last two regular seasons.
Orlando Johnson scored 19 points and James Nunnally added 17 and a team-high eight rebounds to lead the Gauchos past the University of Ottawa 67-65 on Friday night in Ottawa, Ontario. They improve to 3-1 on the tour with one game remaining.
The game was nip-and-tuck for much of the way, but UCSB pushed the lead from four with just three seconds left in the third quarter to 11 in the fourth quarter. The last time the Gauchos led by 11 was at 63-52 with 4:26 to play, but that was when the Gee-Gees when on a 13-3 surge to narrow the gap to 66-65 with 38 seconds to play.
Junior point guard Nate Garth missed a jumper and Ottawa's Serge Grenon came down with the rebound and was fouled. He went to the line to shoot a pair of free throws with an opportunity go give his team its first lead since the early going.
Before Grenon could step to the line, the Gauchos sent Johnson and Nunnally back into the game for the first time since midway through the fourth quarter. Grenon missed both of his free throws, the second was rebounded by Nunnally who was quickly fouled.
Nunnally made one of two free throws giving the Gee-Gees one more chance, but Warren Ward missed a spinning jump shot inside the key at the buzzer.
"There was a period midway through the third quarter and then the first half of the fourth when we played the best basketball we've played on this trip," said UCSB head coach Bob Williams. "They got back in the game when we had our young guys in, but that's a learning thing. All of this experience they are getting in tight situations will benefit them during the regular season."
UCSB struggled at the free throw line, making just 13-of-25, 52.0%. Ottawa had its problems there as well making just 60.0%. Neither team shot the ball well from the field. The Gauchos made just 35.8% overall and 33.3% from three-point territory while their opponent made 35.9% overall and 25.9% from outside the arc.
Ward led the Gee-Gees with 18 points and 14 rebounds. Johnson added seven rebounds to go with his 19 points. Freshman Taran Brown had five points and four rebounds, while another freshman, Lewis Thomas, had three points and seven boards.
Santa Barbara will play its final game of the tour on Sunday when it travels to Concordia University in Montreal for a 9:00 a.m. (PDT).
Season tickets remain on sale for UCSB basketball season tickets. The exciting schedule includes non-conference games against UNLV, San Diego State, Santa Clara and Portland. There are also attractive mini-plans available. For more information please drop by the Ticket Office in the Intercollegiate Athletics Building, call 805-893-UCSB or click here.
Remember, the UCSB Athletics Ticket Office is open on Saturday's between 10am-2pm and there are two convenient parking spots available adjacent to the Intercollegiate Athletics Building.