OMAHA, Neb. – Eric Childress made just one field goal in UC Santa Barbara's season-opener on Friday night at Nebraska-Omaha, but he made the one bucket, a tip-in with 0:03, one to remember as it gave the Gauchos a 60-59 win.
The tip-in by Childress was the culmination of a game-ending 9-1 rally that helped UCSB (1-0) overcome a 58-51 lead over the final 4:19. Earlier in the second half the Mavericks (0-1) overcame a 47-33 disadvantage to force the Gauchos to comeback.
"It seems like an obvious formula," began head coach Bob Williams. "The team that was making the run was the team making shots. Tonight both teams struggled to make shots consistently, but fortunately we were the team that made the plays at the end."
Both teams had trouble finding the range in the first men's game ever played at Baxter Arena. Santa Barbara was just 22-of-63 overall, 34.9%, and 4-of-22 from three-point range, 18.2%. The host Mavericks were just 17-of-49 overall, 34.7%, and 3-of-22 from beyond the arc.
Omaha's Randy Reed made a pair of free throws with 4:29 to play to give his team its biggest lead of the game, but 10 seconds later, UCSB guard Gabe Vincent began the rally by making a long three-point basket from just in front of the Gauchos bench.
"Gabe didn't shoot the ball well tonight, but he hit two big baskets late," Williams said. "Playing without (Michael) Bryson and with John (Green) fouling out, we were looking to put him in places where he could get some good looks and he got two at the end of the game."
Michael Bryson, the team's leading returning scorer and rebounder, did not make the trip to middle America as he served a one game suspension for playing in an unsanctioned summer league game. Green not only played, but had a game-high 22 points and a career-high 13 rebounds before fouling out with 3:54 to play in the game.
Vincent finished with 16 points on 5-of-16 overall and 2-for-8 from three-point range. After he hit his second three to make the score 58-54 with 4:19 left, there was no scoring until Childress made a pair of free throws after he was fouled by Omaha's Devin Patterson with 3:02 on the clock, cutting the gap to 58-56.
Tre'Shawn Thurman was fouled by Mitch Brewe with 1:36 to play, making 1-of-2 free throw attempts to push the Mavericks' lead to 59-56, but just 10 seconds later, Vincent made an acrobatic driving jumper to pull the Gauchos within one, 59-58.
On its next possession, Omaha missed a pair of three-point attempts. The first, by Tra-Deon Hollins went out of bounds off a UCSB player. The second, by Devin Patterson, was rebounded by Brewe with 38 seconds remaining.
The Gauchos decided to play on without taking a timeout and with 22 seconds left, freshman Justin Burks saw his three-point attempt rim out, but Childress went up high among several taller players and tipped the rebound to T.J. Taylor in the right corner and this time, UCSB called the timeout with 12 second left to set up a play.
Vincent inbounded the ball to Brewe who immediately handed it back to him. Vincent drove to the top of the key and passed inside to Brewe who went up for a tough lay-up that went in-and-out, setting the stage for Childress' heroics.
Following their final timeout, the Mavericks heaved the ball full court but couldn't get a good shot off and the Gauchos escaped with their first win of the season.
"You don't usually win a game when you have 20 turnovers and 10 assists," Williams said. "Usually you need that to be the other way around, but both teams had problems with that tonight. In the end, although they shot a lot more free throws than us (35-16), we took more field goals than they did (63-49) and that was the difference."
UCSB also outrebounded Omaha, 43-39. In addition to 13 from Green, DaJuan Smith had a career-high eight. Childress and Brewe had five apiece. Brewe added nine points.
The Mavericks were led by Reed who had 14 points to go along with eight rebounds. Thurman had 10 points and a team-high nine boards while Patterson added 10 points, but also eight turnovers.
UCSB remains on the road, traveling to 14th-ranked Cal on Monday, Nov. 16 for a 7:00 p.m. game. The Gaucho-Golden Bear game can be heard on UCSBgauchos.com and it will also be carried by the Pac 12 Network.