Jan. 9, 2003
MOSCOW, Idaho -
In Saturday's home loss to Cal State Fullerton, UC Santa Barbara blew a 15-point halftime lead and lost in overtime.
Thursday night at the University of Idaho, the Gauchos followed the same script for much of the game. Leading 46-33 with 12:05 remaining, they watched the Vandals go on a 17-4 run to tie the score at 50-50 with 3:48 to go. But this time, UCSB rewrote the ending.
The Gauchos outscored Idaho 12-3 in the final minutes to post their first true road win of the season, 62-53.
After Vandal guard Dwayne Williams made a three-point basket after a long offensive rebound with to knot the score at 50, the Gauchos responded. Forward Mark Hull took a nice feed from Jacoby Atako and went baseline for a lay-up to break the tie. Branduinn Fullove rebounded a miss at the defensive end and then scored on a leaner near the free throw line on the offensive end. The play, which made the score 54-50, was set-up by Hull who took another pass inside, drew the double-team and kicked the ball out to Fullove for the deuce.
The Gauchos weren't finished. After forcing Vandal leading scorer Tyrone Hayes into a turnover, UCSB used the Hull to Fullove connection again to take a 56-50 lead with 1:44 to go. On its next possession, Idaho was stymied again Atako rebounded Williams three-point miss. After running the shot clock down to about five seconds, Nick Jones took the ball in the corner and drove the baseline for a lay-up that banked in high off the backboard, capping the Gauchos' 8-0 run and giving them an insurmountable 58-50 lead with 47 seconds to go.
"Obviously the key to the game for us was responding when they tied the score," commented UCSB head coach Bob Williams. "In the last few minutes we got four great defensive stops and we made all four of our shots. The guys responded tonight and I am proud of them. Mark (Hull) did a great job of finding Branduinn (Fullove) on two straight possessions and I think that picked everyone up."
Idaho never go closer than seven in the final seconds and UCSB made all four of its free throws to ice the nine-point win.
The Gauchos were paced by Hull who had one of his finest all-around games of the year. The senior from Glendale made 8-of-11 shots from the field, including all six of his two-point attempts, and finished with a team-high 21 points. He also grabbed four rebounds and passed off for a team-high four assists. Fullove, returning after missing two games with a strained groin, was scoreless in the first half, but scored 12 big points in the second half, including six during the Gauchos 12-3 rally that closed the game. Nick Jones had 11 points and five rebounds and forward Casey Cook had one of his best all-around games, making 5-of-7 shots, scoring ten points and pulling down five rebounds. Freshman Josh Davis was just 1-of-6 from the field and scored just two points, but he had a career-high three steals and four rebounds in just 15 minutes of play.
"Casey (Cook) played strong tonight," Williams observed. "He goes 5-for-7, has five rebounds and gives us 21 really good minutes. Our five spot (Cook, Bryan Whitehead, Scott Rainey and Derek Wheeler) combined for ten rebounds tonight. That was encouraging."
UCSB limited the Vandals to 37.5% shooting from the field and just 26.1% from three-point territory. The Gauchos also won the rebounding battle 31-29, and they turned the ball over just seven times.
The Gauchos, now 5-8 overall and 2-1 in the Big West, travel to Utah State on Saturday night for a 7:00 p.m. (PST) game with the Aggies that will be televised live on ESPN 2. Idaho drops to 5-7 overall and 1-2 in league.