Gauchos' Late Defense Stifles Vermont in 64-57 Win

John Green (Photo by Shane Roper)
John Green (Photo by Shane Roper)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Alan Williams had 19 points and 11 rebounds, John Green tied his career-high with 18 points and UC Santa Barbara held Vermont scoreless for the final 2:45 en route to a 64-57 win on Friday night.

The Gauchos (6-7), who trailed the Catamounts (5-8) by as many as four points in the second half, turned things up defensively in the final minutes and that was the difference in the game.

"I thought we really turned things up a notch on the defensive end in the last few minutes," said head coach Bob Williams. "That's a good team and they made some big shots tonight, but we really locked down defensively and that made a big difference."

Vermont held its last lead of the game at 54-52 when Kurt Steidl made a lay-up with 4:24 to play. UCSB finished the game on a 12-3 run for the win. 

Alan Williams made a pair of free throws to start the game-ending rally. Eric Childress, who electrified his teammates and the crowd when he knifed down the middle and dunked the ball midway through the second half to start an 11-2 run, made a lay-up with 3:41 left in the game to give the Gauchos the lead for good, 56-54. 

"Eric has played so much better the last two games," Coach Williams said. "He was really struggling there for a few games and his teammates felt for him. It's good to see him start to get back into a flow."

After a free throw by Ethan O'Day cut the lead to 56-55, Green drained a three-pointer from straight up top to make it 59-55. Dre Willis cut the edge to 59-57 on a lay-up and it was the Catamounts final basket of the game. Alan Williams made a lay-up, Zalmico Harmon hit a pair of free throws and Green hit 1-of-2 free throws to close out the scoring. 

"We really needed this win," Green said. "We've had games when we played well this year and didn't win. We have lost some really close games and some overtime games, so this was important for us."

Michael Bryson added 12 points for the Gauchos, who shot just 44.9% for the game but turned the ball over just nine times. O'Day led Vermont with 11 points, while Willis and Hector Harold had 10 apiece.

The Gauchos will play their final non-conference game on Monday, Jan. 5 when they host Florida-Gulf Coast in a 7:00 p.m. game at the Thunderdome. There are plenty of great tickets still available and they can be purchased from the Ticket Office in the Intercollegiate Athletics Building on campus, by calling 805-893-UCSB (8272) or online by clicking here.