SEATTLE, Wash. - UC Santa Barbara rallied back from 10 points down in the final minutes to tie Washington at 77-77, but the visiting Gauchos (5-3) ran out of gas and dropped an 87-80 decision to the Huskies (5-4) on Friday night at the Alaska Airlines Arena.
UCSB, which led by as many as six on several occasions, were behind by 77-67 when Terrence Ross made two free throws with 5:26 left in the game.
That's when the Gauchos used a lightning quick rally to pull even.
Orlando Johnson, who finished with 24 points and 10 rebounds, took a pass from Keegan Hornbuckle and made a three-pointer from the top of the key. Johnson then cut in front of a Washington pass for a steal, drove down the court and passed to T.J. Taylor who made three-pointer from the left side, cutting the deficit to 77-73 with 4:46 remaining.
On the next possession, the Huskies' Darnell Gant drove the baseline and tried to lay the ball up at the rim. Jaimé Serna partially blocked Gant's attempt and Taylor collected the rebound, but then Gant turned the tables, stealing a Gaucho pass and gong the other way. The frenzied play continued as Hornbuckle cut in front of another Washington pass and went the distance for a layup to pull Santa Barbara within 77-75 with 4:02 left.
UCSB's rally wasn't quite done. Serna rebounded a missed three-pointer by C.J. Wilcox and Johnson converted an acrobatic, one-handed jumper on the other end to tie the score at 77-77 with 3:30 to play. Johnson was fouled on the play, but after a media timeout, missed the free throw.
Washington took advantage of its opportunity. Gant made a short jumper in the lane and was fouled. He made the free throw to give his team an 80-77 edge with 2:46 on the clock. James Nunnally missed a floater in the lane for the Gauchos and then fouled Wilcox on the rebound. Wilcox made two free throws to stretch the lead to 82-77 with 2:26 left.
The teams traded misses for the next minute and a half, but with 44 seconds left, Abdul Gaddy was fouled by Johnson. Gaddy made one of two free throws and the lead was 83-77. A long three-pointer from above the key by Johnson carved the Washington lead in half, 83-80, with 37 seconds to play.
Following a timeout, Ross made a pair of free throws after he was intentionally fouled to push the lead to 85-80. Another UCSB miss led to another intentional foul and this time Gant converted two free throws with seven seconds to play for the final score of 87-80.
"We are getting close but not finishing these games out," Johnson said. "I thought we played well most of the night and that was a great stretch to tie the game. We just have to start closing things out."
Arguably the key to the game was turnovers. The Gauchos committed a season-high 17 turnovers while the Huskies had just seven, a low for an opponent this year.
"That number, 17 turnovers, is unusual for us," said UCSB head coach Bob Williams. "We've been good this year at handling pressure and making good decisions. Tonight, we didn't handle things as cleanly."
UCSB did have the rebounding edge. Entering the game, Washington was outrebounding its opponents by more than five per game, but the Gauchos had a 40-35 edge in that category. They also shot a solid 47.7%. The Huskies made 47.6% and both teams hit eight three-pointers.
Perhaps the most positive note of the night for Santa Barb
ara was the play of Hornbuckle. The sophomore from Westlake Village, Calif., recently returned after a long layoff. In his first two games, he looked rusty, but on Friday night in Seattle, he gave a glimpse of what he is capable of as he made 5-of-9 shots overall, including a three-pointer, while scoring 11 points in 17minutes. He also had two assists, two rebounds and two steals.
Nunnally gave the Gauchos a third player in double-figures with 10 points.
Washington was led by freshman guard Tony Wroten, a Seattle native. Wroten had 27 points and seven rebounds. Gaddy added 17 while Ross finished with 16.
With the loss, Williams remains tied with former coach Jerry Pimm for first on the all-time coaching wins list with 222. He will get another chance to eclipse the mark as UCSB will play the third game of its 12-day, four–game road trip on Monday, Dec. 19 when it travels to Berkeley for a 7:30 p.m. game against Cal. The game can be heard live on AM 1290 KZSB, the Santa Barbara News-Press radio station beginning with the pre-game shot at 7:00 p.m. It can also be heard online at UCSBgauchos.com.