Nov 28, 2001
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Playing its third game in five nights, the UC Santa Barbara basketball team looked tired in the first half of its game against Brigham Young on Wednesday night. Fortunately, the Gauchos caught their second wind in the second half, rallying to defeat the Cougars 68-58 at the Thunderdome
Junior swingman Mark Hull made a three-pointer to open the game. After a three-point play by BYU's Eric Nielsen, senior forward Mike Vukovich made a layup to give the Gauchos a 5-3 lead with 18:10 to go in first half, but thanks in great part to Cougar forward Mark Bigelow, that was the last lead UCSB would have until late in the game.
Bigelow drained a three-pointer with 17:54 remaining in the opening half to give BYU a 6-5 lead, and he didn't stop there. The 6-foot-7 native of Olympia, Washington, made three more three-point baskets in the first half, leading his team to a 34-29 halftime advantage. Bigelow led BYU with 12 points in the fist half. As a team, the Cougars made 14-of-26 shots in the half, an outstanding 53.8%.
The second half was a different story. The Gauchos got defensive and kept it close long enough that a late surge carried them over the top.
After allowing BYU to shoot nearly 54-percent in the first half, UCSB buckled down. Head coach Bob Williams went with a small lineup most of the second half, using guards B.J. Ward, Jacoby Atako and Nick Jones together for long stretches. In addition, Williams shifted Hull to the power forward spot, where he enjoyed a major speed advantage, particularly on the offensive end of the court.
Hull made the most of the matchup, scoring 18 points in the second half, many by putting the ball on the floor and driving baseline. In fact, it was a baseline layin by Hull with 3:35 to go in the game, that gave the Gauchos their first lead since early in the first half, 55-54. It was a lead they would never relinquish.
Hull followed his go-ahead bucket by drilling a three-pointer from 24-feet out above the key, giving UCSB a 58-54 lead. After Matt Montague made a lean-in jumper to cut the lead to two, Ward calmly hit an 18-footer from just inside the top of the key to make it 60-56 Gauchos. BYU's Jared Jensen was fouled on a drive by Ndiaye and he hit both of the free throws to narrow the gap to 60-58. Hull, however, responded again, making a ten-foot jumper to give UCSB a 62-58 lead with 1:21 to go in the game. The Gauchos then sealed the victory at the free throw line. Ward made four free throws in the final minute and Ndiaye added a pair, giving UCSB the 68-58 win.
"This was a pivotal-type win for us," commented head coach Bob Williams. "BYU is the defending Mountain West (Conference) champion. They are well-coached, very physical and very skilled. We were tired, but in the second half we really pulled together and toughed it out. We have a chance to be a good team this year and this was an important step in that direction."
In the last 6:18 of the game, Santa Barbara outscored BYU by a 19-5 margin. In the second half, they outscored the Cougars by 39-24, limiting them to just 6-of-26 from the field.
Hull finished with a game-high 23 points, going 9-for-17 from the field. He also had six rebounds. Sophomore guard Branduinn Fullove struggled through the worst shooting night of his career, going 1-for-12. Fullove was, however, 10-for-10 from the free throw line, finishing with 12 points. Ward also played a pivotal role. Logging a season-high 20 minutes, he played outstanding defense on Montague, BYU's point guard, and as importantly, he finished with nine points, four assists, three steals, a pair of rebounds and no turnovers. He made both of his field goal attempts and 5-of-6 shots from the free throw line.
Bigelow, who came into the game averaging 20.0 points per game for BYU, scored 15 points, but only three in the second half. After being outrebounded in the first half, UCSB bounced back to even the rebounding numbers by game's end, 35-35. For the third time in four games, Ndiaye hit the double-digit mark in rebounds with 11. As a team, the Gauchos used their quickness advantage to come up with a season-high nine steals. Jones also had nine points for the Gauchos.
In addition to Bigelow's 15 points, BYU had two other players in double-figures as Travis Hansen and Jared Jensen each scored 14 points. Hansen added a team-high ten rebounds.
With the win, UCSB improves to 3-1 on the year for the first time since the 1994-95 season. Also, the win is the Gauchos' first in five tries against BYU.
UCSB returns to the court on Saturday when it hosts St. Mary's in another 7:00 p.m. game at the Thunderdome.