February 22, 2014

Double-Doubles by Harmon, Williams Lead Gauchos Past Fullerton, 80-65

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Alan Williams had 22 points and 18 rebounds while Zalmico Harmon scored 20 points and passed off for 10 assists and UC Santa Barbara led from start-to-finish in an 80-65 win over visiting Cal State Fullerton on Saturday afternoon. 

The Gauchos (18-7 overall, 9-3 in the Big West) jumped out to a 13-2 lead just over five minutes into the game and the Titans (9-17, 4-8) never recovered.

"From the start I thought we had a good bounce to our step," said UCSB head coach Bob Williams. "We were aggressive and made shots early and I thought that put us into a good mindset. Also, obviously, Z and Big Al were fantastic and that always makes things go better." 

Harmon scored 10 of his points in the first half and six came on his only two three-point attempts of the night. For the junior point guard, it was his first career double-double and the 10 assists tied a career-high. Just as importantly, however, he did not commit a turnover in his 32 minutes of action and now has 49 assists and just three turnovers in his last nine games.

"There's no way we've had a player go through a stretch like this since I've been here," Coach Williams said. "He's been amazing and has just gotten better and more confident as the season's gone on." 

Alan Williams added three blocked shots to his 22 points and 18 rebounds, and he did so in just 29 minutes. He sat out eight minutes in the first half after picking up his second foul. 

"I keep looking down at the stat sheet and seeing the rebounding numbers he is getting and I just shake my head," Coach Williams said. "The fact that he leads the country in rebounds is not an accident."

Alan Williams entered the game averaging 11.7 boards per game, narrowly ahead of the player second on the list. He is now at 12.0 per game. He's had 15 or more in three straight and five of the last six, averaging 15.8 over that span.

"I take a lot of pride in my rebounding," Alan Williams said. "When they (opponents) are making it tough for me to score, I know there is another way I can contribute, and that's rebounding."

The Gauchos led 34-21 at the half and maintained a double-digit lead until there were less than eight minutes to play in the game when the Titans cut it to nine. The closest the game got in the second half was 65-57 with 3:04 to play when Michael Williams made one of his five three-pointers. He finished with a game-high 29 points and added five rebounds. 

Michael Bryson added 14 points for UCSB, which won for the sixth time in the last seven games. 

After shooting a season-low 31.4% in Thursday night's win over UC Riverside, the Gauchos made 26-of-46 shots on Saturday for a season-best 56.5%. They also won the rebounding battle 34-28 and had just seven turnovers to go with 21 assists. Additionally, they made 4-of-8 three-point attempts and the eight attempts were the fewest this season. 

On the defensive end, Santa Barbara limited Fullerton to 38.2% shooting overall, the lowest by an opponent in four games. 

The Gauchos will hit the road for a pair of games next weekend. On Thursday, Feb. 27, they travel to UC Irvine for a first-place showdown against the Anteaters. The game will tip-off at 7:00 p.m. and can be heard on AM 1290 KZSB or UCSBgauchos.com and viewed on ESPN3 or the Watch ESPN App on your mobile device.

On Mar. 1, UCSB travels to UC Davis for a 5:00 p.m. game against the Aggies. That game will tip at 5:00 p.m. and can be seen on ESPN2.

 
 

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