Men's Basketball Edged By Long Beach State In Thriller, 76-75

Men's Basketball Edged By Long Beach State In Thriller, 76-75
The UC Santa Barbara basketball team nearly overcame a six-point deficit in the final 0:32 of the game on Thursday, before losing a thriller to visiting Long Beach State, 76-75 at the Thunderdome.

Freshman Branduinn Fullove was fouled attempting a three-pointer as the buzzer sounded and with no time on the clock, he went to the free throw line for three shots, sinking the first two before missing the third and missing an opportunity to send the game into overtime.

Trailing 74-68 with 0:32 to go in the game, UCSB rebounded a Michael Darrett miss at the free throw line. The Gauchos came down and with 0:24 to go, junior forward Mike Vukovich hit a short jumper and was fouled. He made the free throw to narrow the margin to 74-71. With 0:22 left, LBSU's Kevin Roberts was fouled by Mark Hull and he made both free throws to up the 49ers' lead to 76-71.

UCSB brought the ball up and freshman Jacoby Atako went the distance for a layup, cutting the lead to three at 76-73. Vukovich fouled Long Beach center Travis Reed just before the ball was inbounded and Reed, who finished the 0-for-8 from the free throw line, missed both. The Gauchos came down with the rebound and worked the ball to Fullove, who was then fouled at the buzzer.

Santa Barbara was paced by Vukovich who tied his career-high with 20 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. Hull scored 16 points, all in the first half. Freshmen Branduinn Fullove and Nick Jones each tallied 15. Jones, who sprained his ankle at shootaround earlier in the day, was questionable until game time, but he wound up playing 30 minutes and was outstanding. Although he was only 1-of-10 from the field and scored four points, Atako had a career-high nine assists on the night. Senior Ramel Lloyd, the Big West's leading scorer, finished with 27 points for Long Beach.

The defeat was the second in a row for the Gauchos who are now 5-9 overall and 2-2 in the Big West. They travel to Idaho for a 7:00 p.m. game on Saturday evening. UCSB returns home next weekend to host Big West front-runner UC Irvine in a 5:30 p.m. game on Thursday, January 25.