Jan. 30, 2003
IRVINE, Calif. -
UC Santa Barbara used a stifling defensive effort and an efficient offense to extend its season-long winning streak to four games, and hand UC Irvine its first home loss of the season on Thursday night, 70-54. The victory moves the Gauchos into a first-place tie with Utah State at 6-2 in league.
The Anteaters top four scorers entered the game averaging a combined 42.2 points per game, but UCSB limited Jordan Harris, Adam Parada, Mike Hood and Stanislav Zuzak to a total of 18 points on just 4-of-15 shooting from the field, 26.7%. Overall, UCI shot a mere 36.6% from the field.
After freshman guard Jeff Gloger opened the game with a three-point basket, the Gauchos went on a 13-3 run to build a 13-6 lead. UCI answered with a 10-2 run of its own to take a 16-15 lead with 9:31 to go in the first half. That was the last lead the Anteaters had all night.
Freshman guard Cecil Brown made a three-point basket from deep in the corner to give the Gauchos an 18-16 lead and ignite a 23-8 run to close out the half. Junior guards Nick Jones and Branduinn Fullove combined for nine points in the run, and freshman guard Josh Davis added four as UCSB took a commanding 38-24 halftime lead.
The Gauchos never let-up. After Fullove made one-of-two free throws to begin the second half, UCI's Harris made a three-point basket, his only field goal of the night, to draw his team to within 12, 39-27. The Anteaters would get no closer as Fullove made a 17-foot jumper and a driving layup to extend the lead to 43-27. After Hood drained a 17-footer of his own, Jones made a three-pointer to give the Gauchos their biggest lead to that point, 46-29 with 16:32 remaining.
The teams traded for the next nine minutes and UCSB still led by 17 at 63-46 with 7:25 to go in the game. The Gauchos took their biggest lead of the game at 22 points, when Brown hit a 14-foot jumper in the key to make it 69-47 with 2:47 left. At that point, Santa Barbara emptied its bench and coasted to the 16-point win.
"I think the experience we went through against Nebraska and Cal State Fullerton really helped us tonight," Fullove said of the Gauchos ability to build a big lead and never relinquish it. "We didn't like going through it at the time, but tonight we really closed the game out , we never let-up."
On December 27 at the azcentral.com/ASU Hoops Classic in Tempe, UCSB had a 12-point lead midway through the second half of a game against Nebraska and lost, 60-57. On January 4 in a Big West game at Santa Barbara, the Gauchos had a 15-point second half lead against Cal State Fullerton before losing 57-55 in overtime.
"This was a great defensive effort," head coach Bob Williams said. "As a team, we came out and stuck to our gameplan. We were going to double their bigs and make some of their perimeter players beat us. I thought Jacoby (Atako) really did an outstanding job of dictating the tempo on both ends tonight. That was one of the best games he has played all year."
Atako finished with nine points, six assists and no turnovers. He was instrumental in defending UCI's Hood, who finished with seven points after scoring 37 in his last two, and turned the ball over five times.
UCSB was led by Fullove who scored 22 points on 8-of-10 shooting from the field, in just 20 minutes of playing time. Jones was the only other Gaucho in double-figures with 13 points. He also tied his career-high with seven steals. Brown and senior forward Mark Hull each scored eight points. Hull also put the clamps on the Anteaters' leading scorer Harris. In addition, the Gaucho senior made a pair of three-point baskets to tie the school-record for three-pointers in a career with 196. Davis added six points for UCSB.
Finally, while the teams tied in the rebounding category, the Gauchos outrebounded the Anteaters 16-9 during the pivotal first half. In fact, UCI did not have an offensive rebound in the first 20 minutes of the game. UCSB made 49.0% of its shots overall and 8-of-15, 53.3%, from three-point range.
With its fourth win in a row, Santa Barbara has climbed back to the .500 mark overall at 9-9. The Gauchos are 6-2 in Big West play, tied with Utah State, which is idle tonight and plays Idaho on Saturday. Irvine drops to 11-6 overall, 5-3 in the Big West and 6-1 at home.
UCSB returns to action on Saturday night when it travels to Long Beach State for a 7:30 p.m. game at the Pyramid.