December 30, 2004

Gauchos Get it Done With Defense Again, Defeat UC Irvine 62-45

Dec. 30, 2004

Box Score

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - UC Santa Barbara used another outstanding defensive effort, holding visiting UC Irvine to season-lows in points and field goal percentage, en route to a 62-45 Big West Conference win on Thursday night. The win was UCSB's second in a row and the loss snapped the Anteaters five-game winning streak.

Although the Gaucho offense continued to have its problems, the defense clamped down on an Anteater offense that entered the game averaging 78.5 points per game, shooting 47.2% from the field and 41.1% from three-point range. UCSB (4-5 overall and 2-0 in the Big West) held UC Irvine (6-3 overall and 1-1 in the Big West) to 33.5 points below its season scoring average and 20 points below its previous low of 65 points. In addition, the Anteaters made just 15-of-46 shots from the field for a season-low 32.6%, and 3-of-17 from three-point range for a season-low 17.6%.

"That was an outstanding defensive effort," observed UCSB head coach Bob Williams. "I thought it was the best defense we had played all year. They (UC Irvine) were averaging better than 75 points a game, and to hold them to to 45 is really impressive."

UC Irvine led just once in the game, at 3-2, but a three-point basket by UCSB senior guard Chrismen Oliver gave the Gauchos a 5-3 lead. The Anteaters tied the score on a lay-up by Greg Ethington, but another three-pointer by Oliver gave Santa Barbara the lead for good at 8-5.

The Gauchos used a 12-3 run over the final 6:31 of the first half to break open a six-point game. Senior forward Casey Cook scored eight of his 11 points during the half-ending rally to help Santa Barbara build a comfortable 34-19 lead at the break.

After junior guard Joe See opened the second half with a three-pointer to give the Gauchos a 37-19 lead, the Anteaters used a 16-6 spurt to cut the gap to 43-35 with 11:05 to go in the game. See, however, ended the run by hitting his second three-point basket of the half to give UCSB a 46-35 lead with 8:01 remaining. The lead never dropped below ten points the rest of the way.

"It was important for us to get these first two games," Gaucho forward Casey Cook said. "With the next three games on the road, at places that are tought to play, we really had to have the first two."

Oliver led the Gauchos with 12 points and Cook finished with 11. Junior guard Michael Chambers came off the bench to score a season-high ten points. Freshman guard Alex Harris added eight off the bench, while starters See and Josh Davis each added eight as well. Junior forward Cameron Goettsche, who received six stitches just to the side of his right after a second half fall to the floor cut him open, had just two points, but he added a career-high 14 rebounds in just 25 minutes. As a team, the Gauchos continued to struggle with their shooting, making just 17-of-50 shots from the field, 34.0%. Santa Barbara did make 21-of-26 free throws, 80.8%. Also, the Gauchos committed a season-low eight turnovers.

UC Irvine was paced by Ethington and point guard Aaron Fitzgerald, who each scored 12 points. Ethington also had a team-high seven rebounds.

UCSB will now hit the road for a difficult three-game stretch which begins on Sunday, Jan. 2, when it travels to Cal State Northridge for a 4:00 p.m. game at the Matadome.