Feb. 28, 2002
Santa Barbara, Calif. -
Jacoby Atako hit a pair of free throws and came up with a steal in the final ten seconds as UC Santa Barbara survived Cal State Fullerton, 54-52 on Thursday night.
Titan guard Ryan Dillon tied the score at 52-apiece with 29 seconds left as he drained his seventh three-point basket of the game from deep in the left corner. After a timeout, the Gauchos brought the ball in and Atako came off a pick. He tried to get the ball to forward Mark Hull, but when he was bumped by a Fullerton defender, he couldn't do so. Instead, Atako drove the ball baseline and was fouled on a lay-up with ten ticks left on the clock. He calmly make the free throws and then capped his night with a steal on the other end of the court.
UCSB jumped out early, piling up a 14-4 lead. The Titans, however, bounced back in a big way, going on a 21-2 run to take a 25-15 advantage. The Gauchos closed the first half with a rush, outscoring Fullerton 10-2 to marrow the margin to one, 27-26.
Santa Barbara opened the second half by outscoring the Titans 18-8 to take a commanding 44-34 lead. Fullerton, however chipped away and was finally able to tie the score on Dillon's three-pointer with 29 seconds to go.
While Atako finished with just nine points, he was clearly the difference, also chipping in seven assists, six steals and four rebounds. Branduinn Fullove finished with 13 points and four assists, while Adama Ndiaye added 11 points and six rebounds. Nick Jones was the only other Gaucho in double-figures with ten.
Fullerton was led by Dillon who finished with a game-high 22 points, making 7-of-10 from three-poin territory. Forward Pape Sow was held to seven points, but he did have a game-high 12 rebounds.
UCSB improves to 16-10 overall and 10-7 in the Big West. They remain in a three-way tie for third in league with Pacific and Cal State Northridge. To finish third in league, the Gauchos need to win at home against UC Riverside on Saturday and they need Idaho to beat Pacific on Sunday, or they need Cal State Northridge to beat Utah State, forcing a three-way tie, a situation in which the Gauchos win the tiebreaker. If UCSB finishes tied with just Northridge, the Gauchos win the tiebreaker, but if they finish tied with just Pacific, the Tigers win the tiebreaker.
Cal State Fullerton, already of assured of finishing tenth in league, is now 4-22 overall and 1-16 in the Big West.
The Gauchos, who now have the most wins that the program has enjoyed since 1992-93, close the regular season against UC Riverside on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. in the Thunderdome.