January 3, 2008

Gauchos Use Balanced Attack to Open Big West Play With 79-64 Victory Over Long Beach State

Jan. 3, 2008

Box Score

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Chris Devine scored a team-high 17 points to lead a balanced attack, and UC Santa Barbara outscored visiting Long Beach State 24-12 over the final 10:39, as the Gauchos opened Big West Conference play with a 79-64 win on Thursday night. The win as their second in a row and 10th in the last 11 games.

UCSB (12-2 overall, 1-0 in the Big West) led 30-15 with 7:41 to play in the first half, but a Donovan Morris three-pointer with 1:33 left pulled the 49ers (3-9, 0-1) within one, 36-35. The Gauchos scored the last six points of the first half, four on free throws by Devine and two on a mid-range jumper by Alex Harris, to take a 42-35 lead into halftime.

"We kind of got ahead of ourselves there in the first half," Devine said. "We were up 15 and we started thinking about going up by 30 when we should have been thinking about going up by 17. In the second half, we slowed things down, showed more patience, and we were able to stretch the lead.

Harris, who finished with a season-low 16, scored the first basket of the second half to stretch the lead to 44-35. Long Beach stayed close when Cornel Williams nailed his third three-pointer of the game to make it 44-38.

The lead never got higher than 10 over the next several minutes. When Devine hit a baseline jumper off of a perfect feed from Harris with 11:49 to play, the Gauchos were ahead 55-47. Another Morris three-pointer and a pair of free throws by Brice Gallow cut the gap to 55-52 with 10:39 left, setting up UCSB's game-ending 24-12 run.

"I thought we were really looking to make the extra pass in the final 10 minutes or so and it paid off," said Gaucho head coach Bob Williams. "We freed some guys up for open looks and those guys made their shots. I liked the way we played during that stretch."

A three-pointer by Justin Joyner started the run with 10:27 remaining. After a lay-up by Long Beach's Arturas Lazdauskas, UCSB went on a 7-0 spurt to take a 65-54 lead. James Powell, who like Harris finished with 16 points, capped the run with a three-point basket from deep in the corner. Powell scored eight of his 16 points in the final 6:55.

In addition to Devine, Harris and Powell, Ivan Elliott was also in double-figures for UCSB with 13 points. He and Devine led the team with eight rebounds apiece while Powell added six. The Gauchos passed off for a season-high 23 turnovers and committed a season-low eight turnovers. The 49ers had 22 turnovers, including 15 in the first half.

"They really sped us up in the first half," commented first-year Long Beach head coach Dan Monson. "They did a good job of forcing us to play faster than we would like. I thought we came back when we started to slow things down."

Morris had a game-high 19 points and Williams added 17 for the 49ers, who shot 48.1% overall and 45.0% from three-point territory.

Joyner paced Santa Barbara with five assists, while Harris and Nedim Pajevic each had four. Joyner and Powell each had three steals.

UCSB will host Cal State Northridge on Saturday night at 7:00 p.m. in the Thunderdome. The Matadors improved to 9-3 overall and 1-0 in the Big West with a win at Cal Poly Thursday night.

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