Feb. 18, 2009
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The last time UC Santa Barbara played Pacific, on Jan. 24, the Gauchos were beaten 58-36. On Wednesday night at the Thunderdome, they scored 36 points again, but this time it was only halftime and they held a 36-27 lead, and ultimately defeated the Tigers, 67-57.
UCSB (11-13 overall, 5-7 in the Big West) has now won three straight games for the first time all season. Pacific (14-10 overall, 7-6 in the Big West) had its two-game winning streak ended.
Things didn't start well for the Gauchos as they trailed 13-5 less than five minutes into the game, but that was when Chris Devine, who finished with a game-high 26 points, got things going. Devine and James Powell combined for 26 points over the final 14:35 of the first half as UCSB outscored the Tigers 31-14 to take a 36-27 lead into the break. Powell finished with 16.
The Gauchos, who have had their troubles holding leads in the second half of games this season, had not trouble on trouble against Pacific. When Tiger guard Michael Kirby made a three-point basket with 18:37 to play, the lead was down to five, 36-31. Paul Roemer, however, responded with a lay-up on the other end to up the margin to seven, 38-31, and it never dropped below that the rest of the way.
"We have played very well in the second half of the last three games," said UCSB head coach Bob Williams. "When I looked at the scoreboard and we were down 11-5, I turned to (Assistant Coach) Brad Holland and said `this is good.' We have been coming back lately and I just had the feeling that we would do the same tonight."
The Gauchos, who made 13-of-14 free throws down the stretch, finished the game 22-for-24 at the line. Devine was 10-for-10 and Powell was a perfect 4-for-4. In addition, UCSB committed just nine turnovers, including a mere three in the second half.
Pacific, which was led by Chad Troyer's 11 points and Bryan LeDuc's 10, attempted just 33 shots from the field, connecting on 15, 45.5%. The Tigers also had 17 turnovers, while the Gauchos had just nine, including three in the second half.
"I thought we really protected the ball well tonight," Williams said. "We were strong with it and patient. Will Brew was very strong with the ball tonight and he been getting better and better."
Santa Barbara, which shot 47.7% from the field and needed just three three-pointers in the game, also won the rebounding battle 28-22. Devine paced his team in rebounds as points, collecting eight.
The Gauchos return to action on Saturday, Jan. 21 when they host Montana State in a non-conference game as part of the ESPNU Bracket Busters series. The game will tip-off at 7:00 p.m. and plenty of good tickets remain available.