Nov. 10, 2006
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - In UC Santa Barbara's two exhibition games, junior guard Alex Harris was outstanding, averaging 29.5 points. On Friday night, the Gauchos opened the 2006-07 regular season at home against San Jose State and one had to wonder if his level of play would carryover.
Harris answered the question emphatically against the Spartans (0-1) as he scored 25 points, including 15 in the second half, to help UCSB (1-0) overcome a 12-point deficit and post a 75-67 win in front of 3,079 at the Thunderdome.
The Gauchos trailed by as many as 12 points in the first half. They cut the lead to 39-36 early in the second half, but San Jose's Darion Goins capped an 11-4 run with a baseline jumper to help his team reclaim a double-digit lead, 50-40, with 14:51 to go in the game.
A three-point basket by Harris narrowed the lead to seven and ignited a 10-2 Gaucho rally that cut the gap to 52-50 with 11:03 remaining. The Spartans responded again, however, with consecutive baskets by Julian Richardson, Lance Holloway and Goins, to take a 58-50 lead with just under 10 minutes to play. Another three-pointer by Harris and a free throw line jumper by freshman guard Justin Joyner pulled UCSB back to within three, 58-55. The teams traded baskets over the next four minutes and when San Jose center Menelik Barbary made a short jump hook in the center of the lane with 4:19 left, the Spartans led 62-58, and that was when the Gauchos began the games decisive rally.
Harris rebounded a Tom Garlepp miss and made a pair of free throws after he was fouled on the follow. On the defensive end, he intercepted a pass to start a UCSB break that ended in a Chris Devine lay-up and a 62-62 tie with 2:50 left in the game. After a missed shot by San Jose's Tim Pierce, Harris was fouled on the offensive end and made another pair of free throws to give the Gauchos their first lead since the opening minutes of the game. Freshman guard James Powell extended the rally with a steal on the defensive end and a lay-up on the offensive end to make the score 66-62 UCSB. Garlepp capped the 11-0 run with a three-point shot from deep in the corner to give Santa Barbara a 69-62 lead with 52 seconds left.
San Jose would make it interesting when Pierce hit a long three-pointer from above the key to pull his team to within four, 71-67, with 25 seconds left, but Powell, and forward Ivan Elliott each made a pair of free throws in the waning seconds to carry UCSB to its final margin, 75-67.
"Al was tremendous," said Gaucho head coach Bob Williams. "He had to play all 20 minutes in the second half and at times he really carried us. He is so much stronger physically and mentally that he can do that now. Al made every big shot and we really needed them all."
Harris' previous career-high was 17. In addition, Devine had 14 points, eight rebounds and a career-high five steals. Garlepp added eight points, eight rebounds and a pair of steals. UCSB's freshman guards, Powell and Joyner, also played significant roles. Powell had nine points, including seven in the second half, while Joyner added six points, four rebounds and six assists. He did not commit a turnover.
As a team, UCSB shot just 39.4% from the field, but it made 13-of-14 free throw attempts. The Gauchos also hit 10 three-point baskets, including a career-high five by Harris.
San Jose State was led by Pierce, who had 18 points, and Goins who added 16. The Spartans shot 40.0% from the free throw line and outrebounded the Gauchos 44-35, but they committed 20 turnovers.
UCSB, which continues to play without injured starters Cecil Brown and Glenn Turner, will return to action on Monday, Nov. 13, when it travels to Bozeman, Montana for a 7:00 p.m. non-conference game against Montana State.