LARAMIE, Wyo. – Leonard Washington scored 17 points, including eight straight during a pivotal stretch early in the second half, to help unbeaten Wyoming to a 56-40 win over visiting UC Santa Barbara on Friday night. Sophomore Alan Williams had his fifth double-double of the season for the Gauchos.
UCSB (4-7) kept the game close until Washington's personal rally in the second half put the Cowboys (12-0) back in control.
Santa Barbara took its first lead of the game, 25-24, early in the second half when Wyoming native Taran Brown made his first basket of the game, but that's when Wyoming started going inside to Washington, who scored eight straight, four on free throws, two on a power lay-up and two more on an offensive rebound and follow, to reclaim a 32-25 lead with 14:39 to play in the game.
Alan Williams, who finished with team-highs of 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Gauchos, stopped the run with a lay-up. The score was still just 39-31 when the Cowboys outscored UCSB 16-2 to break the game open.
Luke Martinez, held without a three-pointer for much of the game, nailed a pair during the stretch while Derrious Gilmore made a three and a driving lay-up. Riley Grabau made three free throws and Washington hit a 16-foot jumper to complete the run. Sam Beeler's 10-footer ended the run and the score was 55-35 wit 4:12 left in the game.
The Cowboys struggled from three-point range in the first half, going 1-for-12, but found their touch in the final 20 minutes, making 4-of-11. The Gauchos were 1-for-5 in the first half, but the second half was not nearly as kind as they missed all eight attempts.
"I thought that was a huge factor in the game," said UCSB head coach Bob Williams. "We are a team that has a tough time winning when we don't make some threes. In the first half they were doubling Al (Williams) and he was kicking it out and we got open looks but couldn't knock them down. In the second half, they didn't double, contested hard and made it very tough."
Wyoming, one of the best defensive teams in the nation, forced the Gauchos into a 15-for-43 performance for the game, including 6-of-24 in the second half. They also finished just 1-for-13 from outside the three-point arc after hitting a season-high 13 in each of the previous two games.
"We saw it in Santa Barbara," said Williams of his team's Nov. 28 loss to the Cowboys at the Thunderdome. "That is one good defensive team. They are a veteran team and it really showed, on both ends, in the second half."
Wyoming also forced UCSB into 16 turnovers, eight in each half, leading to a 19-4 advantage in points off of turnovers. The Cowboys also had a 10-1 edge in steals.
The Gauchos battled to stay close in the first half.
With the score 8-6 Wyoming seven minutes into the game, the Cowboys used a cutting lay-up by Washington, a follow dunk by Larry Nance, Jr., and a three-pointer by Grabau to extend the edge to 15-6. The 7-0 run ended when Kyle Boswell made a pair of free throws and a step-back jumper to pull the Gauchos within 15-10.
Wyoming pushed the lead back to 18-10, but UCSB kept scratching, beginning with Williams who hit a lay-up as the shot clock ran out with 7:52 left, cutting the gap to 18-12. With Williams and Boswell combining for 19 of 23 points and Nate Garth scoring the other four, including a left-handed, running floater off the glass as the buzzer sounded to end the first half, the Gauchos trailed just 24-23. The Cowboys scored just one basket in the last nine minutes of the first half.
In addition to Alan Williams' 16 points and 10 rebounds, Boswell finished with 13 point and freshman Mitch Brewe had a career-high seven rebounds.
The Gauchos will take a few days off for the Christmas holiday and then return to Santa Barbara in preparation for their Big West opener on Saturday, Dec. 29 at Cal State Fullerton. The game against the Titans will be televised live on ESPNU and will tip-off at 7:00 p.m.
UCSB will play its first two games of 2013 at home, hosting UC Irvine at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 3 and Long Beach State at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 5. The game against the 49ers will be televised by Fox Sports Prime Ticket.
Tickets for the Gauchos' showdowns against Irvine and Long Beach, as well as all home games, can be purchased from the Ticket Office in the Intercollegiate Athletics Building on campus, by calling 805-893-UCSB (8272) or on-line by clicking here.