Dec. 3, 2002
Santa Barbara, Calif. -
UC Santa Barbara had never beaten USC. They hadn't beaten a Pac Ten opponent since December of 1989.
On Tuesday night, both streaks came to an end.
Sophomore Branduinn Fullove scored 23 points and had seven rebounds, senior Mark Hull added 17 points, nine rebounds and six assists, and junior Nick Jones added 15 points and nine rebounds, to lead UCSB to a 69-53 win over the visiting Trojans.
Trailing 35-33, Hull drilled a long three-pointer with 17:10 to go in the game, giving the Gauchos their first lead of the second half, 36-35. UCSB never trailed again. After an offensive foul on USC guard Roydell Smiley, Jones hit a three-pointer from the corner, making it 39-35. The Trojans cut the lead to 39-38 on a lay-up by Desmon Farmer, but a 15-5 Santa Barbara run culminated in a three-point play by freshman guard Cecil Brown, giving the Gauchos a 54-43 edge with 8:36 to play.
In the final 8:36, the UCSB lead never dropped under eight points and when Jones hit a free throw with seven seconds to go, it hit a game-high 18 points, 69-51.
"This was a signature win for our program," said UCSB head coach Bob Williams. "We had never beaten a Pac Ten opponent in our tenure. For Mark (Hull) and I, this is our fifth year, and we talked about what a win like this would mean for our program. I think this is very big."
The undersized Gauchos used a surprising 41-33 rebounding edge and an outstanding defensive effort that limited USC to 24.2% shooting in the second half to earn their third consecutive win. The team's Big Three of Hull, Fullove and Jones, combined for 55 of the 69 points and 25 of 41 rebounds. Fullove's 23-point effort was highlighted by a perfect 4-for-4 night from beyond the three-point arc. Hull was 3-for-6, and Jones 2-for-3 from beyond the arc. Combined, the trio made 9-of-13 from three-point territory, 69.2%.
USC was led by guard Roydell Smiley who finished with 16 points, 14 of which were scored in the first half. Standout guard Errick Craven scored just eight points on 2-of-13 from the field.
"We just never gave in to the fact that they were bigger than us," commented Hull. "We knew they would play hard and aggressive defense, so we just had to play smart and be patient and that's what we did."
After an 0-2 start, the Gauchos improve to 3-2 on the year. USC drops to 2-2. UCSB will get no rest as they travel to Pepperdine for a 5:30 p.m. game on Saturday, December 7. The game will be televised on Fox Sports Net 2. Following the game in Malibu, the Gauchos will travel To Berkeley for a Tuesday, December 10 game against Cal.