Jan. 2, 2009
LONG BEACH, Calif. - After jumping out to an early lead, the UC Santa Barbara basketball team went ice cold at Long Beach State on Friday night, losing the Big West opener for both teams by a score of 76-64.
The Gauchos (6-7 overall, 0-1 in the Big West) made 9-of-14 shots, including 6-of-7 from three- point range and led 26-19 with just more than nine minutes to play in the first half. During the run that opened the game, Will Brew, Jr., made a pair of three-pointers and four other UCSB players - Sam Phippen, Paul Roemer, James Nunnally and D.J. Posley - each made one. That was when the 49ers (6-7, 1-0) went to work and the Gauchos stopped making shots.
Over the final nine minutes of the first half, Santa Barbara missed 14 out of 15 shots, including its last four three-point attempts, and was outscored 17-3, falling behind 36-29 at the break. The Big West's defending scoring champ, guard Donovan Morris, was held to two points in the first 11 minutes, but he scored nine of the 49ers points during the 17-3 rally.
Trailing 43-33 with 16:17 remaining in the game, UCSB used a 5-0 run to narrow the gap to five, 43-38, but Long Beach scored seven in a row, capped by a three-point basket from freshman guard Casper Ware, to reclaim a comfortable 50-28 lead. Ware finished with a game-high and career-high 21 points, which included a 3-for-3 performance from three-point range.
The Gauchos could never get closer than seven the rest of the way, which they did at 68-61 on James Powell's only three-pointer of the game with 1:29 left.
UCSB made just 22-of-57 field goal attempts overall - 38.6% - but they struggled even worse after their 9-for-14 start, making just 13-of-43 to end the game. Also after a 6-for-7 start from beyond the three-point arc, the Gauchos finished the game making just two of their final 18. The 49ers, on the other hand, made 57.8% of their field goals, including 7-of-13 from three-point range.
The Gauchos, who were outrebounded 38-29, were paced by Chris Devine who finished with 20 points and eight rebounds. When he made his first basket of the second half, the senior from Eagle River, Alaska became the ninth player in school history to eclipse the 1,300 point mark. Powell was the only other UCSB player in double-figures as he finished with 10. Long Beach had five players in double-figures as Ware was joined by Morris (16), Brian Freeman (11), Stephan Gilling (11) and T.J. Robinson (10).
The Gauchos remain on the road and will play at UC Riverside on Sunday, Jan. 4 in a 2:00 p.m. game against the Highlanders, who defeated Cal Poly on Friday night.