UCSB Drops Big West Opener at UC Irvine, 57-55

Jan. 2, 2010

Box Score

IRVINE, Calif. - UC Santa Barbara was on the outside looking in during Saturday night's Big West-opening loss at UC Irvine. And, on this night, being on the outside was not a good thing for the Gauchos.

Before Paul Roemer made a three-point basket at the buzzer to narrow the final margin of defeat to 57-55, the Gauchos (5-6 overall, 0-1 in the Big West) were 1-for-11 from three-point range. The lack of outside shooting success allowed the Anteaters (7-6 overall, 1-0 in the Big West) to collapse and take away UCSB's inside game.

"I didn't think we were very good offensively tonight," said head coach Bob Williams. "We just could not make an outside shot and that made things very difficult for our inside guys."

Orlando Johnson, who made the team's first three-point basket early in the first half, finished with 19 points and eight rebounds and did most of his damage inside.

"O.J. was very effective posting-up tonight," Williams said. "But after the first 10 minutes or so, they were able to double-team because we just weren't making three-pointers."

Irvine was led by the inside-out tandem of forward Eric Wise and guard Michael Hunter. Wise scored 17 of his game-high 21 points in the second half, making six out of seven shots in the final 20 minutes. Hunter got the Anteaters started in the first half as he scored 13 of his 16 points. The senior also made 4-of-8 shots from three-point territory.

After Hunter made a three-point basket with 5:16 left in the first half to give his team a 20-17 lead, UCSB battled back.

James Nunnally was fouled on a three-point attempt and he made all three free throws to tie the score at 20. Johnson then scored on a powerful lay-up with 4:51 left to put the Gauchos back on top 22-20. After an Irvine turnover, Will Brew drove his way through the lane and made a hanging bank shot to give UCSB its biggest lead of the game, 24-20, with 3:06 remaining.

The Anteaters responded. Hunter made a three-pointer and Adam Folker scored on a tip-in and a reverse lay-up off of an offensive rebound. The 7-0 run gave them a 27-24 halftime lead.

After a miss by each team to start the second half, Johnson made his three-pointer to tie the score at 27-27, but a 10-0 run by Irvine, punctuated by another Hunter three-pointer, put the Anteaters in control, 37-27 with 15:40 left in the game.

A lay-up and free throw by Johnson and a lay-up by Jaimé Serna narrowed the margin back to five, 39-34, but an 8-2 Anteater run pushed the advantage to a game-high 11, 47-36 with 8:46 remaining.

Santa Barbara rallied and on a free throw line jumper by James Powell with 3:23 to play, pulled within four, 51-47. But before Roemer made a lay-up with 11 seconds left and his three-pointer as the game ended, the Gauchos made just 1-of-8 shots down the stretch, a tip-in by Will Brew with 40.5 seconds to play.

"The shots just wouldn't fall," Williams said. "We got some open looks, even in the last few minutes, but the just didn't go down."

As a team, UCSB shot 42.0% for the game, 21-of-50. The Gauchos were 19-of-38 from three-point range, 50.0%, and 2-of-12 from outside the three-point arc, 16.7%. Johnson had eight rebounds to go with his 19 points. Serna finished with eight points and seven rebounds, while Nunnally had eight points and five boards.

Irvine made 21-of-46 shots overall, 45.7%, and 5-of-17 from three-point range, 29.4%.

The Gauchos travel to UC Riverside on Monday night to take-on the Highlanders in a 7:00 p.m. game.

UCSB returns home on Friday, Jan. 8 to host UC Davis in an 8:00 p.m. game that will be televised by ESPNU. The Gauchos also host Pacific on Sunday, Jan. 10 at 3:00 p.m. in the Thunderdome.

To purchase tickets, please call (805) 893-UCSB, visit the Ticket Office located inside the Intercollegiate Athletics building on campus or click here.

The Intercollegiate Athletics Ticket Office now has two parking spaces adjacent to the building and is now open on Saturdays, making it easier than ever for fans to purchase tickets. The ICA Ticket Office will be open from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm on Saturdays. The two parking spots, designated specifically for the ticket office, are already available during weekday hours, which are 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.

For years, the Gauchos have been exciting crowds in the Thunderdome. Through the years, legends were made in the 'Dome. Now, five former UCSB standouts are being saluted as "Legends of the Dome." The first legendary womens volleyball star, Roberta Gehlke, was unveiled Oct. 19, 2009. The first men's basketball legend will be unveiled on Jan. 23 before a 7:00 p.m. game against Cal State Fullerton. Three other legends will be introduced this year. The second men,s hoops legend will be unveiled prior to UCSB,s 4:00 p.m. Feb. 13 game against Long Beach State. Women's basketball legends will be honored on Feb. 11 before a 7:00 p.m. game against UC Riverside, and on Feb. 27 before a 2:00 p.m. Blue-Green Rivalry Series game against Cal Poly.