Gauchos Fall in Big West Tourney Semi as UCI Wins in OT, 72-63

John Green shoots over 7-foot-6 Mamadou Ndiaye in UCSB's overtime loss to UC Irvine in Friday night's Big West Tournament semifinal game. (Photo by Matt Brown)
John Green shoots over 7-foot-6 Mamadou Ndiaye in UCSB's overtime loss to UC Irvine in Friday night's Big West Tournament semifinal game. (Photo by Matt Brown)

ANAHEIM, Calif. - When UC Irivne jumped out of the gates with an 11-0 lead less than four minutes into Friday night's Big West Tournament semifinal game against UC Santa Barbara, it looked like it might be a long night for the Gauchos, and it was.

Led by Alan Williams who finished with 24 points and 15 rebounds, UCSB (19-13) clawed back to take a six-point lead late in the game, but having two of its top offensive players foul out proved too much to overcome as the Anteaters (20-12) rallied for a 72-63 overtime win.

The Gauchos had a chance to win it with the final possession in regulation, but a floater by Williams from the middle of the key went in-and-out as the buzzer sounded, sending the teams into the extra period tied at 59 apiece.

"That's a shot I make nine out of 10 times," Alan Williams said. "It felt good when it left my hand, but I was wrong."

John Green, who finished with 14 points and six rebounds, and Gabe Vincent, who made two big three-pointers in the second half, fouled out within 22 second of each other in the waning minutes. Green, in fact, scored UCSB's final basket on a lay-up with 3:07 to play, giving his team a 59-53 lead.

"Offensively, we just couldn't make up for the loss of two of three best outside shooters," said head coach Bob Williams. "We didn't lack in effort, but when your best three-point threat is having a tough night and you lose your other two, it makes it very tough."

After Green's final basket, UCI's Mamadou Ndiaye scored on a slam dunk and a lay-up wot cut the lead to 59-57 with 2:07 remaining in the game. Aaron Wright and Ndiaye each made 1-of-2 free throws to tie the score at 59 with 49 seconds left. 

Out of a Gaucho timeout, Zalmicho Harmon missed a three-point attempt with 16 second to play, but T.J. Taylor tracked down the rebound in the corner and UCSB called another timeout to set up the final play, which resulted in the heart-breaking miss by Williams.

The overtime was all Anteaters. Will Davis II scored on a jump-hook, Ndiaye on a short jumper and Luke Nelson nailed a three to make it 66-59 UCI with 2:39 on the clock. 

Taylor scored Santa Barbara's first points of the OT on a pair of free throws with 2:20 left, cutting the lead to 66-61 with 2:20 remaining, but that was as close as the Gauchos got.

Michael Bryson added nine points and nine rebounds for the Gauchos, who made just 32.3% of their shots overall and 15.8% from three-point range. UCSB did outrebound the Anteaters, 46-41.

UCI was led by Davis and Ndiaye who each made 7-of-11 field goals and finished with 18 points. Davis added 15 rebounds while Ndiaye had four blocked shots.

The loss ended UCSB's six-game winning streak. As for Alan Williams, in scoring 24 points and collecting 15 rebounds, he became the second player in school history to eclipse 1,700 points, finishing the game with 1,714. He now has 1,115 rebounds, tying him for second on the Big West Conference's all-time list.