November 6, 2011

Freshmen Spark Gauchos to 67-51 Exhibition Win Over San Francisco State

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Freshman guard John Green had 17 points and nine rebounds and freshman forward Alan Williams added 10 points and seven boards, as UC Santa Barbara opened its 2011-12 basketball season with a 67-51 exhibition win over San Francisco State on Saturday night at the Thunderdome. 

Green and Williams, along with sophomore guard Kyle Boswell, sparked an 11-0 second half run that turned a 47-45 Gaucho lead into a 58-45 advantage.  Boswell had 11 points in the game.

"I didn't like the way we came out to start the second half," said UCSB head coach Bob Williams.  "We didn't come out with much personality, so I brought in a new five and that seemed to get us back on track.  I really liked the energy that group played with."

The Gauchos led 30-20 at halftime but the Gators used a 13-2 run to open the second half, taking a 33-32 lead.  At that point, Williams subbed in Green, Boswell, senior Greg Somogyi, and freshmen T.J. Taylor and Lewis Thomas.  Green immediately made a three-pointer to give UCSB a 35-33 lead that it never relinquished.

San Francisco State kept the game close until the 11-0 run.  Senior Christian Peterson started the run with 7:42 left in the game when he was fouled while making a lay-up.  He missed the free throw, but Williams knocked the ball out of bounds off of a Gator and the Gauchos retained possession.

Back-to-back lay-ups by Williams and Boswell boosted the lead to 53-45.   Another lay-up by Williams and a long three-pointer by Boswell completed the rally and gave UCSB a 58-45 lead. 

"I was really nervous at the start of the game," Williams said.  "Playing in front of our own crowd really got me going.  It was a great experience."

A 6-foot-7 post player from Phoenix, Williams is expected to play a role for Santa Barbara when the regular season begins on Nov. 11.  In fact, he, Green and Taylor will almost undoubtedly be on the active roster rather than redshirting.

"Those three will play," declared Bob Williams, who is entering his 14th season at UCSB.  "Big Al (Williams) will get time at the five.  T.J. (Taylor) is going to bring us some good things at the point and John (Green) has such a good feel for things, especially offensively.  He can just flat-out score."

Green, a native of Oakland, played at Westwind Prep in Phoenix last year and while he accompanied the Gauchos on their five-game tour of eastern Canada, he did not play because he had an injured food.  In fact, he was inactive for three months prior to being cleared just before the start of practice in October.

"He was basically idol for three months, in a cast and a walking boot," Coach Williams said.  "He is going to be even better as his conditioning improves, but he just has such a good feel on the offensive end."

Senior James Nunnally scored 13 points to give UCSB four players in double-figures.  Nunnally also added a game-high six assists and had just one turnover.  He made 3-of-4 shots from beyond the 3-point arc.  Boswell was 3-of-5. 

Santa Barbara was playing without senior guard Orlando Johnson, who was nursing a sore Achilles, and sophomore transfer forward Keegan Hornbuckle who had a sore back.

The Gators were led by Nefi Perdomo and Griffin Reilly who had 20 and 16 points respectively.  

The Gauchos open the regular season on Friday, Nov. 11 when they host Chapman College in a 7:00 p.m. game at the Thunderdome.  Tickets are available from the Ticket Office in the Intercollegiate Athletics Building on campus, by calling 805-893-UCSB (8272) or on-line by clicking here.