SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Mike Caffey scored 19 points, including a three-pointer from near half court at the first half buzzer to help visiting Long Beach State to a 77-70 win over UC Santa Barbara on Saturday afternoon.
UCSB (5-9 overall, 1-2 in the Big West) trailed Long Beach (6-8 overall, 2-1 in the Big West) 45-31 after James Ennis scored on a slam-dunk with 18:21 to play in the game, but fought back from that point.
The Gauchos went on a 14-0 run to tie the score at 45-45 on a lay-up by Alan Williams with 14:57 to play in the game. Freshman Michael Bryson, who had struggled offensively for a few games, drained a three-pointer and had a slam-dunk during the rally.
"After we fell behind, I thought we did a great job fighting back. Tonight, I thought we competed," said Gaucho head coach Bob Williams. "We fell behind by something like 14 points and battled back. We're a young team and some guys stepped-up today to get us back into the game and, for the future, that's a good thing.
Bryson finished with a career-high 15 points and made a career-high three shots from outside the three-point line.
"Michael is such a good player," Williams said. "As he gets more confident, we will see this from him more often. He played 35 minutes tonight and that tells you how much confidence we have in him."
While Santa Barbara was able to tie the score with Long Beach, they were never able to take the lead. The 49ers reclaimed the advantage on a three-pointer by James Ennis and never trailed again.
Long Beach State's lead never extended beyond eight points and finished at seven when James Ennis made a pair of free throws with fewer than 10 seconds to play.
Ennis finished with 18 points while Tony Freeland had 15 and Dan Jennings 13 for Long Beach. Sophomore Alan Williams, who picked-up two early fouls and three in the first half, led UCSB with 16 points and eight rebounds. He played just six minutes in the first half and finished with 24 minutes played.
Junior Kyle Boswell had an outstanding game. He tallied 14 points and made 3-for-6 from three-point range. Freshman Taran Brown added 11 points for UCSB. Sophomore point guard T.J. Taylor, starting his second straight game after senior Nate Garth suffered an ankle sprain, had eight points, two rebounds and a career-high nine assists for the Gauchos. Taylor had just two turnovers.
Santa Barbara travels to Stockton, Calif., to play at the University of the Pacific on Thursday, Jan. 10 at 7:00 p.m. The game between the Gauchos and Tigers can be heard on AM 1290 KZSB with Gerry Fall calling the play-by-play. It can also be heard on-line at UCSBgauchos.com.