ANCHORAGE, Alaska – The temperature outside the Alaska Airlines Center was in the high teens Thursday night, but that was a heat wave compared to what Washington State went through inside during its 71-43 loss to UC Santa Barbara in the first round of the GCI Great Alaska Shootout.
The Gauchos' (2-2) stifling defense limited the Cougars (1-3) to 22.8% shooting from the field for the game, including 9.1% (3-for-33) in the first half.
"We were very good defensively tonight," said head coach Bob Williams. "They missed a lot of open looks, but just about anytime you beat a team like that, you've done something right. I was also happy that we showed some killer instinct and never really took our foot off the gas."
In the decisive first 20 minutes, WSU missed all 14 of its three-point attempts, finishing 4-for-21 in the game, 19.0%.
The Cougars took their only lead of the game at 3-2 less than three minutes into the game. The Gauchos finished the first half on a 32-9 run that gave them a 34-12 halftime lead. The 12 points was the second lowest scoring half, first or second, in Great Alaska Shootout history.
While WSU improved its shooting in the second half, so too did the Gauchos as they made 15-of-25 overall, 60.0%, and 4-of-6 from outside the three-point arc.
Zalmico Harmon made 3-of-4 three-point attempts and led UCSB with 17 points, while Alan Williams sat the final 10 minutes but finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds, his third double-double in four games. John Green added 11 points.
Santa Barbara's lead ballooned to 31 points, 71-40, on a lay-up by Alex Hart with 53 seconds left in the game, but finished at 28 when Brett Boese drained a three-pointer with 27 seconds to play.
In addition to their sizable shooting edge, the Gauchos pounded the Cougars on the glass, 46-32, and while Alan Williams led the way with 12, guards Eric Childress (8) and DaJuan Smith (7) each did their part with career-highs.
"Our guards did a great job on the boards," Coach Williams said. "There were a bunch of long rebounds and we got a lot of them. Eric and DaJuan really pursued the ball hard tonight."
Childress had a game-high six assists, while Smith and T.J. Taylor each added five. UCSB had a season-high 22 assists and just 10 turnovers. Taylor, who was celebrating his birthday Thursday, also made a pair of three-pointers to finish with six points.
WSU was led by Brett Boese whohad 13 points. Josh Hawkinson had a game-high 13 rebounds.
UCSB returns to the court Friday night when it takes on Mercer in the second semifinal game at 8:00 p.m. The winner of that game will play the winner of the Pacific-Colorado State, the first second round game.
Both semifinal games will be televised live on CBS Sports Network and the Gauchos' game will be aired live on AM 1290 KZSB in Santa Barbara and UCSBgauchos.com