Gauchos Top Toronto 85-65, Improve to 2-0 on Canadian Tour

Taran Brown (Photo courtesy of the University of Toronto)
Taran Brown (Photo courtesy of the University of Toronto)

Orlando Johnson scored 24 points and 10 rebounds and James Nunnally had 15 points as UC Santa Barbara improved to 2-0 on its exhibition tour of eastern Canada with an 85-65 win at the University of Toronto on Tuesday night.

The Varsity Blues scored the first basket of the game, a long three-pointer by Arun Kumar, but after that it was all Gauchos as they ran off 16 straight points to take a 16-3 lead.  Junior point guard Nate Garth, who finished with nine points, had a pair of threes during the run while freshman forward Taran Brown made a pair of jumps shots.

"Tonight we played with more energy than we did last night and, overall, I thought we played better," said UCSB head coach Bob Williams.  "Last night, even though we won big, I thought we were pretty ragged at times.  Tonight, we were much tighter.  We weren't perfect, but we played a better team and responded."

Santa Barbara had just nine turnovers against Toronto while shooting 46.7% for the game.  On the defensive end, the Gauchos limited their opponent to 32.3% and forced 15 turnovers. 

"We had some defensive lapses, but overall I think the energy was good on that end of the court as well," Williams said.  "We made some progress tonight." 

UCSB led 40-29 at the end of the second quarter but led by Cornell transfer and Ontario-native Alex Hill, the Varsity Blues fought back to within six at 42-36 with 7:56 to play in the third quarter.  That, however, was the closest the game would be the rest of the way.

The Gauchos took a 60-48 lead into the fourth quarter and never let the lead slip below 10.  UCSB, in fact, ended the game on a 9-1 run that included a pair of spectacular slam dunks.  The first rim-rattler came when Greg Somogyi ran out on a fastbreak, made a great grab of a Garth pass, took two steps and threw it down. 

The second dunk came when Nunnally was on the receiving end of an alley-oop pass from Johnson, sending the sizable Toronto crowd into a frenzy.

Somogyi and Jaimé Serna each finished with 10 points.  Somogyi, who made 5-of-8 shots, also had five rebounds and four blocked shots.  Serna was 5-of-7 from the field.

"Our two big guys played well tonight," Williams said.  "Greg was really involved and Jaimé was so confident and played like the force he is capable of being."

Brown, the Gauchos' freshman from Gillette, Wyo., was in the starting lineup and he made the most of the opportunity, finishing with nine points (4-of-9 from the field, including one three-pointer), added three rebounds, two steals and four steals.  Lewis Thomas, another freshman, had four points, seven rebounds, two assists and one steal. 

"This whole trip is about growth," Williams said.  "Tonight, we grew from last night and played better.  We're taking steps in the right direction, and we just have to keep in mind that this is all about growth."

The next step may be the toughest of the trip for the Gauchos.  After a day of travel between Toronto and Ottawa, they will play Carelton University on Thursday night.  Carelton has won four of the last five national titles in Canada and have already dismantled several American universities, including Illinois State and St. Louis.

Season tickets for UCSB games are on sale now.  Visit the ticket office in the Intercollegiate Athletics Office building, call 805-893-UCSB or click here.