Nov. 29, 2008
NORMAL, Ill. - UC Santa Barbara used a suffocating defensive game plan and did enough on the offensive end to defeat Nicholls State, 57-38, on the second day of the World Vision Invitational at Normal, Ill., on Saturday night.
The Gauchos (3-3) who have won two straight for the first time this season, limited the Colonels (1-3) to a mere 30.8% shooting for the game and a paltry 17.6% in the second half. The 38 total points were the fewest UCSB has allowed since it allowed 37 to Cal Poly on Feb. 15, 2006, and it equaled the third fewest in the program's history. Finally, the 15 points scored by Nicholls State in the second half were the fewest second half points ever scored by a Gaucho opponent.
"I thought our guys did a great job of executing a defensive game plan on a very short turnaround," said Santa Barbara head coach Bob Williams of his team's implementation of a scheme while playing its second game in as many nights. "That's a team that scores 70 a game and runs a tough offense to play against. Tonight, was easily our best game this year."
Nicholls State plays a Princeton-like offense, but with no post players, often playing with five players at least 10 feet outside the key.
"Our guards and our bigs did their part," Williams said. "I thought we frustrated them a little bit, and that was important."
The Gauchos never trailed in the game, jumping out to a 5-0. The Colonels tied the score three times in the first half, but back-to-back baskets by senior guard D.J. Posley, the second coming from outside the three-point line, gave UCSB a 21-16 lead and it never looked back.
After leading 30-23 at half, the Gauchos saw their lead shrink to five, 34-29, when Colonel forward Ryan Bathie made a three-pointer with 17:33 to play in the game. But following Bathie's three-pointer, Santa Barbara went in lockdown mode, and Nicholls State scored just two points over the ensuing 12:55, both from the free throw line. When Sam Phippen made a 12-foot jumper with 5:00 left in the game, UCSB had its biggest lead, 53-31.
The lead never dipped below 19 the rest of the way, and that's where it ended.
James Powell paced another balanced scoring effort for the Gauchos with 12 points. He made just 4-of-12 shots, including 3-of-7 from three-point range. Powell was the only UCSB player in double-figures, but Posley equaled his career-high, set one night earlier, with nine. Chris Devine, who was limited to 19 minutes after picking-up two fouls in the first five minutes of the game, had eight points and a game-high nine rebounds. Freshman Jaimé Serna tied his career-high with six points, and he added six rebounds. Jesse Byrd had six points and five boards.
Nicholls State did not have a player in double-figures and were led by Fred Hunter who had nine points.
The Gauchos outrebounded the Colonels, 36-24, and finished the game at a solid 47.7% from the field. The only major blemishes for UCSB were turnovers and free throws. They had 18 turnovers and made just 11-of-20 shots from the free throw line, 55.0%.
Santa Barbara will complete play in the tournament on Sunday afternoon when it plays the host school, Illinois State in a 1:30 p.m. (PST) game. The Gauchos and Redbirds are both 2-0 through the first two games of the tournament. The game can be heard live in Santa Barbara on KIST 1490-AM beginning at 1:15 p.m. (PST).