IRVINE, Calif. – Michael Wilder's three-point shot with 8.7 seconds to play lifted UC Irvine to a 62-60 win over visiting UC Santa Barbara on Saturday night. The Gauchos rallied from a 19-point second half deficit to take their first lead since the opening minutes before Wilder's big shot.
Kyle Boswell's three-pointer on the other end bounced off the rim as time ran out.
Sophomore Alan Williams returned after missing the last three games and led UCSB (7-14 overall, 3-7 in the Big West) with 22 points and eight rebounds before fouling out with 40.4 seconds left in the game. Boswell added 15 points and Michael Bryson had 12. The Anteaters (12-11 overall, 6-4 in the Big West) were led by Alex Young with 12 and Chris McNealy with 10.
The Gauchos, who actually fell behind by 20 points in the first half, trailed 42-23 when Will Davis scored on a slam dunk to start the second half. But a spirited rally the rest of the way was completed when Taran Brown made a jumper from the right baseline with 18 seconds left in the game to give UCSB a 60-59 lead.
"I was proud of the way we fought back in the second half," said head coach Bob Williams. "I was un-pleased with the way we played in the first half, but the second half was a completely different thing and I'm happy about that."
Alan Williams picked-up three fouls in the first half as the Gauchos shot just 33.3% and were outrebounded by Irvine 22-12. The second half was a different story in all aspects as UCSB shot 51.9% and had a 19-9 rebounding edge.
While Alan Williams returned with a solid game, Santa Barbara's injuries continued to pile up. Keegan Hornbuckle re-sprained his ankle in the second half and didn't return, Nate Garth pulled his hamstring on Wednesday night and Mitch Brewe broke a bone in his left hand during practice on Friday and is expected to miss the remainder of the season.
The Gauchos return home for a pair of games 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.