Jan. 6, 2007
IRVINE, Calif. - UC Santa Barbara responded to its worst defeat of the season with one of its most important wins. Junior guard Alex Harris scored 23 points and junior forward Chris Devine had his fourth double-double of the season with 15 points and 11 rebounds, as the Gauchos (11-4 overall, 3-1 in the Big West) ended a brief two-game road losing streak with a 64-59 win at UC Irvine (7-9 overall, 1-1 in the Big West) on Saturday night, two nights after they were beaten by 36 points at Long Beach State.
Santa Barbara led by as many as eight points in the first half, but the Anteaters dialed long distance to get back into the game. UCI, which made 10-of-27 shots from three-point territory for the game, hit six in the first half to close the halftime gap to two, 32-30.
Anteater swingman Adam Templeton opened the second half with a three-pointer to give his team a 33-32 edge. The lead see-sawed for the next 10 minutes with neither team ever leading by more than four.
With 8:17 remaining in the game, senior guard Cecil Brown made a lay-up to give the Gauchos a 49-48 lead. Devine followed with back-to-back jump shots to push the advantage to 53-48 and UCSB never trailed again. Freshman guard James Powell, who finished with 10 points, made a key three-point basket with 1:50 remaining to give Santa Barbara its largest lead of the second half, 59-52. Powell also made a pair of free throws with 10 seconds left to ice the win.
"I thought we responded very well tonight," said UCSB head coach Bob Williams. "To get beat the way we did on Thursday and then to stay on the road and win, that was pretty important. I was very pleased with the way we played down the stretch. Al (Harris) and Chris (Devine really kept us in the game for the first 30 minutes or so and Cecil (Brown) and James (Powell) made all the big plays late. This was an important win."
While the Gauchos struggled from the free throw line for the game, they made just 11-of-19, 47.2%, they did make their final five, three by Powell and two by Brown, who also finished with 10 points.
UCSB shot 47.2% from the field against UCI, which leads the Big West Conference in field goal percentage defense. The Gauchos also won the battle of the boards by a 38-31 margin. Santa Barbara, which has been plagued by turnovers at times this season, had just 11 against the Anteaters, including just three in the second half. The loss was the first in six home games for UCI this season.
The Gauchos return to action on Saturday, Jan. 13, when they host UC Davis in a non-conference game at the Thunderdome.