Jan. 13, 2000
Denton, Texas - North Texas outscored UC Santa Barbara 11-4 over the games' final three minutes to win the Big West Conference opener for both teams, 74-67 Thursday night at the Super Pit in Denton, Texas.
The Gauchos had used outstanding pressure defense and some timely shooting to wipe out a 12-point Mean Green advantage with 18:01 remaining. Guard Larry Bell led the second-half charge. He produced five steals, four rebounds and four points as UCSB outscored UNT 21-9 to tie the score at 54 with 7:45 to go. The teams traded baskets for the next four minutes and when Erick Ashe drilled a three-pointer from the top of the key with 3:02 left the contest was knotted for the last time at 63 all.
The same problems that had plagued UCSB during the preseason schedule caused problems in the league opener. The Gauchos shot 44.1% for the second half, but could only make 41.5% for the game. They also turned the ball over 20 times, resulting in 20 North Texas points.
Ashe was the lone Gaucho to score in double-figures as he tallied 20 on 7-of-14 shooting from the field overall and 4-for-10 from three-point territory. Bell finished with season-highs of eight points, five rebounds and five steals in only 20 minutes. Freshman Mark Hull, who had struggled offensively the past five games, seemed to come alive somewhat, scoring nine points, all in the second half. He also had a career-high eight rebounds as the UCSB won the battle on the boards, 42-41.
The Gauchos jumped out to a good quick start against North Texas, taking a 12-8 lead six minutes into the game. Forward Adama Ndiaye and Ashe each scored six points during the early run. Ndiaye, in fact, scored only two more point the rest of the way.
North Texas was paced by redshirt freshman Chris Davis who had 20 points and five assists. Forward Sam Funches, a transfer from Connecticut made 8-of-11 shots and finished with 17 points.
UCSB is now 4-8 overall and 0-1 in Big West play. The Mean Green moves to 3-9 overall and 1-0 in league. The Gauchos return to action on Saturday night when they travel to Las Cruces to take on the defending-Big West Champion New Mexico State Aggies in a 9:00 p.m. (PST) game that will be broadcast live on ESPN 2.