January 10, 2008

Furious Rally Not Enough as UCSB Drops Second Straight, 66-63 at UC Irvine

Jan. 10, 2008

Box Score

IRVINE, Calif. - UC Santa Barbara did what it does best on Thursday night at UC Irvine. The Gauchos forced turnovers and made three-point baskets. Unfortunately, they weren't doing either too well until they were behind by 18 with less than 10 minutes remaining and the Anteaters fought off a furious rally to hold on, 66-63.

UCSB (12-4 overall, 1-2 in the Big West) struggled through much of the first 30 minutes of the game as UCI (6-9 overall, 1-1 in the Big West) piled-up a 61-43 lead with 10:02 to play.

That's when things got interesting as the Gauchos used a 9-0 run to slice the lead in half, 61-52. Paul Roemer, who finished with a career-high 12 points on four three-point baskets, made two of his three-pointers during the spurt. Anteater guard Brett Lauer bumped the edge back to 12 with a three-pointer from deep in the left corner, but Ivan Elliott responded with a three of his own to make it 64-55 with 5:29 remaining.

Following a timeout, UCSB leading scorer Alex Harris, who was held to a season-low 15 points, scored on a lay-up to make it 64-55. After an offensive fould on the Irvine end, Harris was held as he came around a screen. He made one of the two free throws to narrow the lead to 64-58 with 1:56 to play.

On the next defensive possession, a scrambling UCSB defense resulted in a steal by Justin Joyner. The sophomore went coast-to-coast for a lay-up wo make it 64-60 with 1:30 left.

After another UCI timeout, Chris Devine, came up with yet another steal and with 1:10 left, D.J. Posley made a three-pointer to make it a one-point game, 64-63.

Posley came through on the other end of the floor as well, picking off an errant Anteater pass. When UCSB got to the front court, they called a timeout with 45 seconds to play.

The Gauchos ran about 30 seconds off the shot clock before Elliott had a good look, but missed about a 12-footer from the left baseline. Anteater forward Patrick Sanders came down with the rebound and was immediately fouled by Harris.

With just 13 seconds remaining, Sanders missed the front end of a one-and-one and UCSB rebounded. With no timeouts remaining, the Gauchos got the ball to Harris, the league's leading scorer, and he drove baseline and went up for about a 10-foot shot with one second to play. Harris did not get the shot off cleanly and it appeared the shot was deflected out of bounds by a pair of UCI defenders with just under one second to play. Officials, however, ruled that no defender had touched the ball and the Gauchos were forced to foul Sanders again, with 0:00.7 to play and this time the senior forward made both free throws to give his team a 66-63 lead.

UCSB heaved the ball into the front court, but it was deflected and the game was over.

Sanders finished with a game-high 16 points for Irvine. Lauer had 14, while Fells had 12 points and 13 rebounds. Six of Fells' rebounds were offensive and his team had 13 total. Overall, the Anteaters had 35 rebounds to UCSB's 26.

In addition to Harris (15) and Roemer (12), Elliott finished in double-figures with 12. He paced the Gauchos with six rebounds.

Devine, who was limited all week with a bad case of the flu, finished with just seven points for UCSB. The Gauchos made 10-of-21 three-point shots, including 7-of-13 in the second half, but the Anteaters were just as efficient, making 8-of-16 overall and 5-of-7 in the final 20 minutes.

The two-game losing streak is the longest of the year for UCSB, which has also now lost three of its last five.

The Gauchos will have another difficult assignment on Saturday night as they travel to Cal State Fullerton for a 6:00 p.m. game against the Titans.

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