SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Seniors Orlando Johnson, James Nunnally and Jaimé Serna combined for 63 points, including 42 in the second half, as UC Santa Barbara overcame its first halftime deficit of the season and cruised to an 83-69 win over visiting Portland on Tuesday night.
The Gauchos (4-0) were behind at the half, 35-31, after making just 9-of-24 shots overall and missing all eight of their three-point attempts in the first 20 minutes. The Pilots (2-3) shot just 38.5% in the first half, but made 4-of-10 three-point shots.
Despite shooting the ball better early in the second half, UCSB still trailed 49-45 with 12:56 to play in the game and that's when things turned around.
A pair of free throws by Nunnally and then back-to-back three-point baskets by Johnson gave the Gauchos a 53-49 edge with 11:36 left. Portland pulled back within two on a layup by Derrick Rodgers, but a pair of free throws by freshman forward Alan Williams pushed UCSB's advantage back to four.
The Pilots Ryan Nicholas made a short jumper from the middle of the key to make it 55-53 Gauchos with 10:08 remaining. Nicholas led his team with 16 points. But Johnson, who finished with a game-high 26 points and 12 rebounds, scored seven straight points to give UCSB its biggest lead of the game to that point 62-53 with just over eight minutes to play.
Portland closed the advantage to six two more timed, but never got closer. Santa Barbara stretched the lead to 80-65 on a pair of free throws by Nunnally with 1:31 to play and the lead never dipped below 11.
Nunnally finished with 22 points while Serna had a season-high 15 to go along with a career-high 10 rebounds.
"It was just a matter of time when they're (Johnson and Nunnally) in the game," said UCSB head coach Bob Williams. "We've just got to stick with it. Tonight, when we got going, we really got going."
The Gauchos shot 54.8 in the second half and made 7-of-12 shots from three-point range. They finished the game at 47.3%. The Pilots had their shooting issues in the second half as well as the first and finished at 38.6% for the game. UCSB also had a huge rebounding edge, 45-28.
Alan Williams, a freshman from Phoenix, sparked Santa Barbara in both halves. He finished with eight points, eight rebounds and a blocked shot in just 12 minutes.
"Big Al really lit a fire under us from the word go," Bob Williams said. "Right when he got into the game he got the weakside rebound and put-back and he kept going from there. He is such a high-energy guy and we needed that tonight."
The Gaucho post players had by far their best game of the season as the trio of Serna, Williams and Greg Somogyi combined to make 9-of-10 shots from the field, score 25 points and collect 20 rebounds.
Nemanja Mitrovic and Tanner Riley each scored 12 points to join Nicholas in double-figures for Portland.
UCSB, which is 4-0 for the first time since the 2009-10 season, will return to action on Saturday, Nov. 26 when it hosts the defending Mountain West Conference champion San Diego State in a 7:00 p.m. game at the Thunderdome.
The Big West +1 Ticket Plan remains available. With the Big West +1, fans can purchase tickets for all eight Gaucho Big West games, plus one for either the Nov. 26 showdown against San Diego State or the Nov. 30 game against rival UNLV. The cost of the plan is just $99. For more information, or to purchase tickets, please stop by the Ticket Office in the Intercollegiate Athletics Building on campus, call 805-893-UCSB (8272) or online by clicking here.
A banner honoring former UCSB head coach Jerry Pimm as a Legend of the 'Dome will be unveiled at halftime of the Gauchos Nov. 30 game against UNLV. Pimm, who built UCSB into a top-25 program, experienced many of his greatest moments in wins over the rival Runnin' Rebels. He will become the fourth men's basketball honoree as he joins three of his greatest Gaucho players - Brian Shaw, Carrick DeHart and Eric McArthur - to earn the honor. Overall, Coach Pimm is the 10th honoree. Former women's basketball great Erin Alexander (Brown) will have her banner unfurled on Feb. 4 against Cal Poly. Tickets for both of the legends games are available by clicking here.
Watching Gauchos basketball at the Thunderdome is exciting, fun and great entertainment for families and groups. Through it's community outreach efforts "Gauchos Give" UCSB Athletics will be giving free tickets to groups this holiday season. If you are part of a school, church, non-profit, or any organization and would enjoy a free Gaucho basketball game, please contact UCSB Athletics Ticket Office at 805-893-UCSB (8272) or firstname.lastname@example.org.
General admission tickets come in blocks of 25 – 200 and are available for the following games:
*Wed, Nov. 23, 7 p.m. WBB vs Washington
*Sat, Nov. 26, 7 p.m. MBB vs San Diego St
*Wed, Nov. 30, 7 p.m. MBB vs UNLV
*Fri, Dec 2, 7 p.m. WBB vs San Francisco
*Sat, Dec. 10, 4 p.m. WBB vs UNLV
*Fri, Dec. 16, 7 p.m. WBB vs. Pepperdine
Kids Go Free Too –all season long any youth wearing a 2011-12 G-Kids t-shirt, the official kids club of the Gauchos, will get into basketball games for free. G Kids are available at UCSB Athletics Ticket Office (805) 893-UCSB (8272), online through the Gaucho Shop or at the game inside the Thunderdome.