Williams, Gauchos Avenge Earlier Loss, Defeat FGCU 63-50

Alan Williams and the UCSB men's basketball team will play at Oral Roberts in the first round of the College Basketball Invitational on Wednesday. Tip-off is scheduled for 5:00 p.m. (PDT). (Photo by Matt Brown)
Alan Williams and the UCSB men's basketball team will play at Oral Roberts in the first round of the College Basketball Invitational on Wednesday. Tip-off is scheduled for 5:00 p.m. (PDT). (Photo by Matt Brown)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – A team rarely gets the chance to avenge a non-conference loss in the same season, but UC Santa Barbara did and seized the opportunity with a 63-50 win over visiting Florida Gulf Coast on Monday night at the Thunderdome. 

Alan Williams scored 22 points and collected 13 rebounds as the Gauchos (7-7) won their second straight game. The Eagles (10-6) won the first meeting between the teams on Nov. 17, 81-75. That game was played in Fort Myers, Fla.

"It's kind of weird playing a non-conference team twice in the same season, but it was a good opportunity to get one back," said UCSB forward John Green who finished with 11 points. "I thought we played a good game in a lot of areas tonight and it's a good win against a good team."

Williams scored the first four points of the game and the Gauchos never looked back, leading the entire way. UCSB built a 30-19 lead at halftime and pushed it to a game-high 43-24 when Mitch Brewe made a three-pointer from deep in the left corner with 15:36 to play. 

"This was grind-it-out kind of game for us," said head coach Bob Williams. "I look at the stat sheet and see that we only shot 37.7%, but we did what we had to do in other areas. We won the rebound battle, the turnover battle and the free throw battle. In a game like this, those are the things you've got to do."

The Gauchos had the advantage in rebounds (37-29), turnovers (19-12) and free throws (13-7) en route to their second straight win. They made just 4-of-18 shots from three-point range, 22.2%, but drained 13-of-14 free throw attempts, 92.9%.

Michael Bryson joined Williams and Green in double-figures with 11 points. Zalmico Harmon had six assists and two steals, Gabe Vincent had six points and three steals, and Eric Childress scored a season-high six points and, for the second straight game, sparked UCSB. 

"When Eric comes in and plays the way he did he makes us a better team," Coach Williams said. "He was diving for loose balls, battling for rebounds and helping to get us into a good rhythm." 

The Eagles made 40.0% of their shots overall, but they hit 11-of-21 in the second half, 52.4%. They also made seven three-pointers, four by Bernard Thompson who finished with team highs of 16 points and seven rebounds. Thompson scored all of his points in the second half.

FGCU point guard Brent Comer, who scored 28 points in the Nov. 17 meeting between the teams, was limited to four points and three assists in 20 minutes. He played the first two minutes of the second half and never returned. 

"As a team, we did a much better job on him this time," Coach Williams said. "He had his way with us when we played them in Florida, but tonight I thought Z (Harmon), Eric (Childress) and the rest of our guys were much more effective."

The Gauchos are off until Saturday, Jan. 10 when they travel to Cal Poly to renew the Blue-Green Rivalry against a Mustang team that blasted them in the first round of the 2014 Big West Tournament. The game will tip-off at 7:00 p.m.

UCSB returns to the Thunderdome on Thursday, Jan. 15 when it hosts Cal State Northridge in a 7:00 p.m. game. Tickets are available from the Ticket Office in the Intercollegiate Athletics Building on campus, by calling 805-893-UCSB (8272) or on-line by clicking here.