Nov. 21, 2003
HONOLULU, HI -
Casey Cook scored 16 points and collected 12 rebounds and guards Cecil Brown and Jacoby Atako each added 13 points, to lead UC Santa Barbara (1-0) to a 57-51 season-opening win at Hawaii (0-1) on Friday at the Stan Sheriff Center in Honolulu.
The Gauchos, playing without senior guards Branduinn Fullove and Nick Jones, their top-two returning scorers, jumped out of the gates quickly, taking a 5-0 lead just three minutes into the game. Hawaii, however, used a 7-0 run to end the first half and took a 25-20 lead into halftime.
Brown, who made just 1-of-8 shots and scored two points in the first half, opened the second half by making a three-pointer from the left side, cutting the deficit to 25-23. After a steal by forward Cameron Goettsche, Cook hit a jumper from near the free throw line, tying the score at 25 apiece. Rainbow Warriors' forward Phil Martin responded with back-to-back baskets to give Hawaii a 29-25 edge with 18:32 to go in the game.
Over the next 2:21, UCSB outscored Hawaii 7-0 to take a 32-29 lead. Cook started the run when he hit a shot from the free throw line. After an Atako free throw, Brown hit a floating jumper from the baseline to give the Gauchos their first lead since the first half, and then Cook hit another jumper from the right side of the lane with 16:11 to go in the game to make it 32-29.
The lead see-sawed for the next several minutes. With 8:16 remaining in the game, Martin hit a turnaround fall-away shot from the side of the key to give the Rainbow Warriors a 44-41 lead. At the 7:49 mark, Atako rebounded a Josh Davis miss and was fouled as he made the follow. He hit the free throw to tie the score at 44-44 and the three-point play started a 10-0 Gaucho run that essentially decided the game.
On the next Hawaii possession, Martin missed a 12-foot baseline jumper. Vaidotas Peciukas rebounded the Martin miss, but Atako stripped him of the ball and got the ball to guard Joe See on a fastbreak. See pulled-up from 20 feet and nailed a three-pointer just in front of the Gaucho bench to give his team a 47-44 lead with 7:23 remaining in the game.
"When Joe (See) made that three-pointer after the steal by Jacoby (Atako), I thought that was a really big play," said UCSB's sixth-year head coach Bob Williams. "We had played so well on the defensive end and to have it pay-off with such a big shot was important."
Santa Barbara continued to play outstanding defense forcing Hawaii to miss three shots on the next possession. After each team missed another shot, Cook was fouled on a rebound and he made both ends of the one-and-one to give the Gauchos a 49-44 lead with 5:45 left.
The score remained 49-44 until the 3:25 mark when Brown hit another floating baseline jump shot to give UCSB a 51-44 lead, completing the 10-0 run. By the time guard Jason Carter made a pair of free throws with 3:01 to go in the game, Hawaii had gone scoreless for 5:15, missing eight field goals over that span. The Rainbow Warriors, in fact, did not hit another field goal until forward Julian Sensley made a 15-footer with 1:06 to go to make the score 53-48 Gauchos.
Once UCSB took a five-point lead with 5:45 left in the game, the advantage never went below five points and after opening the game by making just 3-of-8 free throws, the Gauchos hit their final nine to ice the win.
"This team showed a lot of poise, especially considering the circumstances," Williams said. "We had some guys really step-up and contribute when we needed it. I thought for the most part we played well on the defensive end and we made some key shots."
Cook's 16 points tied a career-high and his 12 rebounds were a career-high. Atako's 13-point performance also tied a career-best and Brown's 13-point effort tied his second-highest total ever. See ended with eight points, including a pair of three-point baskets.
"That was the best game Casey (Cook) has played," assured Williams. "He played with a great deal of confidence and it really showed when he went to the free throw line at the end. You just got the feeling that was going to make the shots, and he did."
Brown and Davis, both sophomores, started in place of the injured Fullove (left ankle) and the suspended Jones (suspended for the first eight regular season games), and while Davis was scoreless, he did an outstanding defensive job on Hawaii's top newcomer, sophomore forward Julian Sensley. Davis, who is 6-foot-5, 185 pounds, was four inches shorter and 40 pounds lighter than Sensley.
Each team made 21-of-53 shots from the field, 39.6%. UCSB was 3-of-8 from three-point range while the Rainbow Warriors hit just 4-of-17 from beyond the arc. And while the Gauchos committed 14 turnovers, they forced 16 by Hawaii. Atako had three steals to go with his 13 points and four rebounds. Brown and Bryan Whitehead also each had four rebounds. In all, six UCSB players had at least one steal. The Gauchos also won the rebounding battle, 36-31.
Hawaii, which entered the game having won 33 of its last 35 home games, was led by Martin with 12 points, while Sensley finished with ten points and seven boards.
Santa Barbara is off for a week. The Gauchos return to action on Saturday, November 29 for the first round of the Montana Holiday Classic. UCSB was originally scheduled to play the host University of Montana in the first round of the tournament, but that has changed. The Gauchos will take on St. Mary's in the opening game at 4:30 p.m. (PST) on November 29. Montana will host Southeaster Missouri.