Dec. 28, 2009
BERKELEY, Calif. - James Nunnally scored a career-high 24 points and Orlando Johnson had 21, including 12 in the second half, as UC Santa Barbara defeated Furman 72-60 in the first round of the Golden Bear Classic in Berkeley, Calif., on Monday. The win ended UCSB's four-game losing streak.
Nunally, who was inserted into the starting lineup at the four spot, got the Gauchos off to a fast start with 14 points in the first half. The sophomore made all three of his three-point attempts as Santa Barbara (5-4) took a 36-33 halftime lead over Furman (5-6). As a team, the Gauchos made 7-of-9 three-point attempts in a half which saw nine lead changes.
Six different players scored as UCSB opened the second half on a 16-4 run. Nunnally scored the last four, including the final two on a slam dunk, as the lead expanded to a game-high 52-37.
"At that point I really thought we were going to push the lead even more," said Gaucho head coach Bob Williams. "But give Furman credit, we just couldn't close it out yet."
Neil Duval scored four straight points to draw the Paladins within 11, 52-41, and after a pair of free throws by UCSB's Jon Pastorek, Jordan Miller drained a long three-pointer to narrow the gap to 54-44 with 9:13 to play.
The Gaucho maintained a double-digit lead until a pair of free throws by Amu Saaka brought Furman within nine, 59-50. A free throw by Daryl Evans and another three-pointer by Miller with 6:34 left cut the advantage to 61-56. After a pair of free throws by Johnson, Noah States hit a short jumper in the lane to make it 61-56 with three minutes left. It was the last time the Paladins would be that close.
A hanging jumper by Johnson and a bank shot from straightaway by Will Brew bumped the lead to 65-56, and after a free throw by Saaka, another double-pump hanging shot by Johnson and a pair of free throws by Nunnally made it 69-56 Gauchos with 56 seconds to play and the game was essentially over.
The Gauchos made 51.2% of their shots for the game while holding Furman to a mere 34.5%. After making 7-of-9 three-point attempts in the first half, UCSB missed all six of its attempts in the second half. Also, while Santa Barbara hit just 21-of-30 free throws overall, it made 14-of-16 in the second half, 87.5%. The Gauchos also won the rebounding battle, 35-29, as Nunnally, Johnson, Brew, and Jaimé Serna each had five. Paul Roemer, making his first start of the season, had four assists and a pair of steals before fouling out.
"Paul really gave us a spark, especially on the defensive end," Williams said. "He plays with so much energy and passion and it just becomes contagious for the rest of the team."
Miller had 19 points and Saaka added 16 for the Paladins.
The Gauchos will play the host school, Cal, on Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The Golden Bears were winners over Utah Valley in the second game of the tournament.
UCSB will remain on the road to open Big West play over the weekend. The Gauchos travel to UC Irvine on Saturday, Jan. 2, and to UC Riverside on Monday, Jan. 4. Both games will begin at 7:00 p.m. Santa Barbara's next home game will be on Friday, Jan. 8, when it hosts UC Davis in a game that will tip-off at 8:00 p.m. to accommodate ESPNU.
To purchase tickets, please call (805) 893-UCSB, visit the Ticket Office located inside the Intercollegiate Athletics building on campus or click here.
For years, the Gauchos have been exciting crowds in the Thunderdome. Through the years, legends were made in the `Dome. Now, five former UCSB standouts are being saluted as "Legends of the Dome." The first legendary women's volleyball star, Roberta Gehlke, was unveiled Oct. 19, 2009. The first men's basketball legend will be unveiled on Jan. 23 before a 7:00 p.m. game against Cal State Fullerton. Three other legends will be introduced this year. The second men's hoops legend will be unveiled prior to UCSB's 4:00 p.m. Feb. 13 game against Long Beach State. Women's basketball legends will be honored on Feb. 11 before a 7:00 p.m. game against UC Riverside, and on Feb. 27 before a 2:00 p.m. Blue-Green Rivalry Series game against Cal Poly.