FULLERTON, Calif. – Despite a strong second half effort, UC Santa Barbara couldn't close the deal in a tough 74-72 loss at Cal State Fullerton on Saturday night.
Alan Williams scored 26 points and led a second charge that saw the Gauchos (12-6 overall, 3-2 in the Big West) overcome a 12-point deficit and take a 70-68 lead with 2:20 left, but that was UCSB's only lead.
The Titans (7-12, 2-3) reclaimed a 71-70 lead with 32 seconds left on a three-pointer by Michael Williams, but a three-point attempt by Kyle Boswell with 23 seconds left went around the rim twice before popping out. Fullerton's Alex Harris came down with the rebound and was fouled immediately. He made 1-of-2 free throws to push the advantage to 72-70.
The Gauchos rebounded the missed free throw and quickly got the ball up the floor, but an Eric Childress lay-up attempt was blocked by Josh Gentry and the Titans Steve McClellan was fouled after coming down with the board. McClellan made both free throws and it was 74-70. Williams made a follow as the game ended.
The game was tied at 5-5 when Zalmico Harmon hit a 15-foot jumper with 16:20 left in the first half, but Fullerton went on a 7-0 run to take a 12-5 lead with 15:07 remaining and the Gauchos never caught up again.
UCSB set the tone for the game in the first half, making just 7-of-23 shots overall and 1-of-7 from outside the three-point arc. Fullerton was just 11-of-26 overall, but hit 5-of-11 three-point attempts en route to a comfortable 30-21 halftime lead.
"We played a sluggish first half," said Gaucho head coach Bob Williams. "We didn't play well in the second half at Riverside or the first half tonight and 18 good minutes in the second half weren't enough. We just couldn't finish in the last two minutes and so the first half came back to haunt us."
Santa Barbara scored 51 points in the second half and made 57.1% of its shots, including 4-of-9 three-point attempts, to finish at 46.3% overall and 33.3% from outside the arc. The Titans had one of their best shooting games of the season as they hit 50.0% from the field.
Williams added a game-high nine rebounds for UCSB. Michael Bryson finished with 16 points, 14 of them coming in the second half, while Boswell added 11. Harmon tied his career-high with 10 assists and he had no turnovers.
Harris led Fullerton with 22 points while Michael Williams added 19.
The Gauchos return home for a pair of games next weekend. On Thursday, Jan. 30, they will host first-place UC Irvine in a 7:00 p.m. game at the Thunderdome and on Saturday at 4:00 p.m. they will tip-off against UC Davis.
Tickets for both games are available by dropping by the Ticket Office in the Intercollegiate Athletics Building on campus, by calling or 805-892-UCSB (8272) or online by clicking here.