LONG BEACH, Calif. – Long Beach State's Mike Caffey made two free throws with 7.4 seconds left and a three-point attempt at the buzzer by UC Santa Barbara's Kyle Boswell's didn't fall as the 49ers held off the visiting Gauchos on Wednesday night, 57-55.
A three-pointer by Michael Bryson tied the score with 23 seconds to play.
It was the third straight full game that UCSB played without leading scorer and rebounder Alan Williams who has a strained left hamstring tendon.
"I was very proud of this team's effort," said head coach Bob Williams. "By the end of the game we were going with a skeleton crew and we never quit and actually had a chance to win."
The 49ers (12-8 overall, 8-1 in the Big West) started the game by making just 1-of-13 shots from the field, but made nine of their next 13. The Gauchos (7-13 overall, 3-6 in the Big West) jumped out to a fast start and still held a 20-12 lead before Long Beach used a 10-0 run to take its first lead of the game, 22-20. UCSB responded and trailed just 30-28 at halftime.
Long Beach threatened to break the game open in the second half, but the Gauchos hung tough, pulling within 39-37 on a Mitch Brewe put-back with 11:49 left in the game and, after a free throw by Dan Jennings pushed the edge back to 40-37, Taran Brown made a three-pointer from deep in the right corner to tie the game at 40.
James Ennis made a pair of free throws on Sam Beeler's fifth and final foul, but Brewe responded with a pick-and-roll basket on the other end and it was a 42-42 game.
Peter Pappageorge made a three and then two free throws to vault the 49ers into a 47-42 lead, but Brewe was fouled on the next possession and made both free throws and it was 47-44. Jennings then made a free throw and Ennis a three and Long Beach had a 51-44 edge.
But the Gauchos didn't go away. A put-back by Brown and another inside basket by Brewe and the lead was back down to 51-48. Following a Caffey 15-footer, UCSB missed a shot on the offensive end, but T.J. Taylor stole the ball from Caffey and went in uncontested for a lay-up, narrowing the gap back to 53-50 with 3:53 left.
Tony Freeland scored on an inside move to give his team a 55-50 advantage, but again UCSB refused to quit. Bryson scored on a follow and it was 55-52. After each team missed shots, the Gauchos forced a 49er turnover and after two missed three-pointers, Bryson found the range with 23 seconds left to tie the game at 55-55.
Caffey was fouled away from the basket with 7.4 seconds, setting-up the end-of-game sequence.
Boswell led UCSB with 13 points while Brown had 12 points and eight rebounds. Bryson added nine points and seven boards. Ennis and Freeland each had 16 points to lead the 49ers.
UCSB will travel to UC Irvine on Saturday night for a 7:00 p.m. game against the Anteaters. The Gauchos return home for a pair of games the next weekend. On Feb. 7 they will host UC Davis and on Feb. 9 Pacific will come to town.
The Feb. 9 game against the Tigers will also be a Legend of the 'Dome night as former UCSB grate Lucius Davis will have his Legend banner unveiled at halftime. Davis (1988-92) will join Brian Shaw, Carrick DeHart, Eric McArthur and Jerry Pimm as the men's basketball Legends of the 'Dome. Tickets for that game, and all home games, can be purchased from the Ticket Office in the Intercollegiate Athletics Building on campus, by calling 805-893-UCSB (8272) or online by clicking here.