BOULDER, Colo. – A career-night by sophomore Taran Brown and a gutsy performance by the entire team wasn't quite enough as visiting UC Santa Barbara was outlasted by Colorado in frigid Boulder on Thursday night, 76-68.
Brown poured in a career-high 23 points and made a personal best seven three-point basket not only helping the Gauchos (2-2) stay close, but give them a chance to defeat the Buffaloes (5-1). His final three-point basket gave shorthanded UCSB a 54-52 lead with 5:51 remaining.
But playing without leading scorer and rebounder Alan Williams and swingman John Green, the Gauchos didn't have enough gas in the tank in the final minutes. With their only two post players – Sam Beeler and Mitch Brewe – on the bench with five fouls, Santa Barbara ended the game with two point guards and three wings.
In the two minutes following the final UCSB lead, CU went on a 12-0 run to claim a 64-54 advantage with 3:31 left. Seven of the 12 points came from the free throw line for the Buffaloes. They finished with a 23-5 free throw edge.
Still, the Gauchos weren't finished. Trailing 70-60 with 1:24 left on the clock, a Michael Bryson dunk and a nifty layup by Eric Childress carved the gap to six, 70-66. Then, after Spencer Dinwiddie made one of two free thows, Bryson drained a three-pointer and the Buffalores' lead had been whittled to 71-67 with 34 seconds left.
Finally, that was as close as UCSB got.
"The number one thing we talked about was that the effort was good," said head coach Bob Williams. "There's no such thing as a moral victory with this group, so we're not pleased with the outcome. Our physical effort was good but what we didn't like was our discipline."
Santa Barbara committed 17 turnovers and attempted just 24 two-point baskets compared to 28 from outside the three-point arc.
The Gauchos trailed by as many as seven in the first half, but led by Brown, who made his first five three-point attempts, they took, 30-25 lead with 3:24 to play.
Brown's fifth first half three was the last basket scored by UCSB in the first half as the Buffaloes rallied back with a 7-0 run to close things, taking a 32-20 lead to the locker room. A three-pointer by Dinwiddie completed the CU run.
"Taran shot the ball sensationally," Williams said. "He rose up and shot and made five of them in the first half and two in the second. So he ends up 7 of 10 from the three-point line, and those are tremendous numbers. But we have to get more balance out of him and out of others guys."
Brown added a team-high seven rebounds for the Gauchos. Bryson finished with 12 points and Childress added a career-high 10, all in the second half. The freshman point guard also added career-highs of six assists and three steals in what was probably his best all-around performance through four games.
As a team, UCSB made 50.0% of its shots overall and 39.3% (11-of-28) from beyond the three-point line.
Dinwiddie poured in 24 points for Colorado, 14 of which came from the free throw line. Josh Scott, the Buffaloes' leading scorer entering the game, was limited to three points on 1-of-5 from the floor. Askia Booker chipped-in 14.
UCSB will be off until Friday, Nov. 29 when it hosts South Dakota State in a 7:00 p.m. game at the Thunderdome. The Jackrabbits were a 2013 NCAA Tournament team, the third of five that the Gauchos will face during the preseason schedule.
Tickets for all UCSB games, including a big Dec. 6 Thunderdome showdown with Cal, are available from the Ticket Office in the ICA Building on campus, by calling 805-893-UCSB (8272) or online by clicking here. The match-up against the Golden Bears will be the first between the schools since the teams played in a game that opened the Thunderdome in 1979.