SAN DIEGO, Calif. - Jaimé Serna capped his career night with a pivotal blocked shot in the waning seconds and Orlando Johnson made a pair of free throws with 0.6 seconds left to seal UC Santa Barbara's (5-2) 65-61 win at the University of San Diego (5-5) on Tuesday night.
The victory moved head coach Bob Williams into a tie with Jerry Pimm for the school's all-time record for coaching victories with 222.
Serna set a career-high with 22 points and tied another with five blocked shots. Most impressively, he had 14 points and was the main reason the Gauchos were able to take a two-point lead (32-30) at the end of the first half despite the fact that Johnson, the nation's fourth-leading scorer entering the game, went without a point in the first 20 minutes.
After Dennis Kramer started the second half with a three-pointer to give the Toreros a brief lead, the Gauchos reclaimed an advantage that they held most of the rest of the way.
The lead was pushed to eight on two occasions, the final coming with 3:43 to play, but San Diego battled back with freshman Johnny Dee drilling two of his five three-pointers to narrow the gap to two.
Serna helped hold the Toreros at bay with a powerful layup off of a perfect feed from Johnson and four free throws.
The final minute got dicey. A Christopher Anderson layup turned what had been an eight-point Gaucho lead into a 63-61 game with 21 seconds left. Anderson then stole a pass on the ensuing UCSB inbounds play. Following a timeout, the Toreros spread the floor and Anderson drove to the rim where he had the potential game-tying shot blocked by Serna. Johnson recovered the ball with 0.6 seconds left and was intentionally fouled.
Serna made 9-of-12 shots from the field and added a team-high six rebounds for Santa Barbara. James Nunnally had 14 points and, despite his scoreless first half, Johnson finished with 12 and a team-high four assists.
For Williams, it was his third try at win No. 222. His first two came up heartbreakingly close in an overtime loss to San Diego State and a double overtime defeat to UNLV. Williams equals Pimm's record in his 14th season. The former UCSB mentor coached 15 years.
Dee finished with 15 points for San Diego while Darian Norris had 14. UCSB won the battle of the boards 31-26 and also limited the host school to 38.9% from the field while shooting 52.2%. UCSB, however, nearly paid the price for 15 turnovers.
The Gauchos remain on the road when they travel to the University of Washington for a 7:00 p.m. game on Friday night. The game can be heard live on KZSB 1290 AM in Santa Barbara as well as online at UCSBgauchos.com.