BATON ROUGE, La. – UC Santa Barbara entered its season-opening game at LSU on Friday night as the nation's third youngest team. The Gauchos travel roster of 13 includes seven freshmen and three sophomores.
Against the Tigers, there were times when UCSB acted its age, but there were numerous bright spots in the road loss.
Charles Carmouche had 16 points and Johnny O'Bryant III scored 13 points and had eight rebounds, all in the first half, to pace LSU to a 77-63 win at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. The Gauchos were led by one of their grizzly veterans, junior guard Kyle Boswell, who scored 17 points, one short of his career-high.
Sophomore Alan Williams, who battled foul trouble all night, had 14 points, six rebounds and two blocked shots in just 21 minutes.
On the strength of two three-pointers apiece by Boswell and freshman Michael Bryson, who finished with 10 points, the Gauchos led by as many as five points in the early going. They still led 22-19 when the Tigers went on an 8-0 run to claim a 27-22 edge. O'Bryant scored five of the eight points and LSU never trailed again.
"We jumped out to a pretty good start, but we committed too many turnovers and you just can't do that against a team at this level," said UCSB head coach Bob Williams. "There were some bright spots tonight and we'll need to build off of them and learn from the mistakes."
The Gauchos finished with 23 turnovers, 14 in the second half.
Trailing 41-32 at half, Santa Barbara was outscored 14-5 over the first seven minutes of the second half, falling behind 55-37. André Stringer scored the last six of the run. Stringer got the first three when he was fouled making a leaning bank shot and then the final three on a long three-point basket from above the top of the key.
When Shane Hammink drained another Tiger three with 10:36 to play in the game, his team led 58-41, but a 9-2 spurt by UCSB closed the gap to 60-50. Bryson scored the first four points of the rally, two of which came on an artistic reverse lay-in off of a nifty baseline drive. Boswell made the third of his three three-pointers and Williams hit a short jumper to complete the rally with 7:29 remaining.
LSU, however, responded again, this time with a 10-0 run that put the game out of reach, 70-50. The 10-0 stretch started with Gaucho turnovers on three straight possessions, each resulting in points for the Tigers with Anthony Hickey making a three-pointer and then Malik Morgan hitting a lay-up and three-pointer.
"When we cut it to 10 in the second half, I thought we kind of had a rhythm going," Coach Williams said. "But then they turned up the pressure and we didn't respond. We just got too loose with the ball."
UCSB used all 13 of its players in the season opener with 12 scoring. In fact, eight different Gauchos scored their first career points, led by Bryson's 10. Freshman guards Dalanté Dunklin (six points, three rebounds) and Duke DaRé (two points, four rebounds) also had good efforts.
Santa Barbara made just 37.3% of its field goals, including 26.3% from three-point range. LSU hit 44.8% overall and 10-of-26 from three-point territory, 38.5%. The Tigers were awful from the free throw line, making just 7-of-20, 35.0%, and the Gauchos won the battle of the boards, 41-40.
The Gauchos will stay on the road for a few more days. They will travel to Normal, Ill., on Saturday and play at Illinois State on Monday night. The game against the Redbirds will tip-off at 5:00 p.m. (PST) and can be heard on AM 1290 KZSB with the pre-game show beginning at 4:30 p.m. (PST). It can also be heard on-line at UCSBgauchos.com.
Season tickets for both the men's and women's teams are available from the Ticket Office in the Intercollegiate Athletics Building on campus, by calling 805-893-UCSB (8272) or online by clicking here for men's season tickets and here for women's season tickets. Also, for the nest two seasons, the season tickets will commemorate 35 years of the Thunderdome and the tickets will reflect that. This year, the commemorative tickets will celebrate some of the greatest players to ever play in the storied arena and next year the greatest moments will be remembered.