Nunnally's Buzzer-Beater Lifts Gauchos to Thrilling Win at Cal Poly, 71-70

Jan. 27, 2011

Box Score

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. -

James Nunnally made a running bank shot at the buzzer to cap a furious final minute and give UC Santa Barbara a thrilling 71-70 win at Cal Poly on Thursday night.

UCSB improves to 11-7 overall and 4-3 in the Big West. The Mustangs drop to 8-11 and 4-4.

Nunnally's game-winner was one of three huge shots in the final 21 seconds of a tightly played between the Blue-Green Rivalry Series opponents. With the score tied at 67-67, Orlando Johnson, who finished with a game-high 24 points, made what appeared to be a three-point basket with just over 20 seconds to play. The officiating crew called it a two-point basket and a sideline replay was inconclusive so Johnson settled for a two, giving UCSB a 69-67 lead.

Shawn Lewis responded in a big way for the Mustangs as he nailed a three-pointer from above the top of the key with 5.8 seconds left to give his team a 70-69 edge. Lewis finished with 20 points, including 14 in the second half.

Following their final timeout, the Gauchos got the ball in to Justin Joyner who started left but then switched and drove up the right side of the court. Johnson was blanketed by Cal Poly defenders, but Nunnally broke free and Joyner got him the ball at the free throw line extended on the right side. The junior drove in and made the hanging bank shot as time ran out.

Once again, the referees went to the courtside monitor. After watching the replay several times, it was determined that the ball was released before the red light glowed behind the backboard and the UCSB bench exploded in celebration.

"I just tried to take it to the rack and I hoped I would either get fouled or get a good shot off," Nunnally said. "I got a really good look and the defender backed-off a little bit. It was a big shot and I hope it gives us some momentum and helps us turn our season around."

"That was a huge shot by James, and also by Orlando," said UCSB head coach Bob Williams of his team's final two baskets. "We worked the team really hard this week and they earned this. I'm proud of them for being relentless and not giving up."

Nunnally's basket helped the Gauchos overcome an outstanding long distance shooting display by Cal Poly. The Mustangs, who entered the game shooting just 28.7% from outside the arc made 13-of-26 in the game, 50.0%. It was a season-high percentage and the most threes they have made this season.

"Give them credit," Williams said. "They made shots. (David) Hanson and Lewis were just outstanding for them and it made for a great game."

Hanson tied his teammate for team-high scoring honors with 20, 15 in the first half. He made 4-of-7 shots from three-point range, as did Lewis, and he started the game by making four of his first five. As a team, Cal Poly made 8-of-13 in the first half, including 7-of-9 to open the game.

UCSB trailed 11-10 with 14 minutes to play in the first half but a dunk by Greg Somogyi, a four-point play by Nunnally and a three-pointer by Orlando Johnson put the Gauchos on top, 19-11.

Cal Poly chipped away with its three-pointers to pull even at 26-26. Ultimately, there were six ties in the first half but the Gauchos escaped with a narrow 36-35 lead.

Chris O'Brien made one of his three three-point baskets to open the second half, giving the Mustangs a 38-36 lead. The lead see-sawed for the first eight minutes of the second half, but when Dylan Royer drilled a three with 11:46 to play, it gave Cal Poly a lead that it didn't relinquish until Nunnally made 1-of-2 free throws with 1:09 left in the game to tie the score at 67-67. Johnson's basket that initiated the exciting final 21 seconds gave the Gauchos their first lead of the final 11:46.

Nunnally scored 13 points to go along with Johnson's 24. He also had a team-high seven rebounds. Joyner had his best offensive game since the 2007-08 season as he made 4-of-5 shots, including 3-of-4 three-pointers, to finish with 12 points. Jon Pastorek had eight points and seven rebounds while Greg Somogyi made all four of his field goal attempts and finished with eight points.

UCSB returns to the Thunderdome on Saturday, Jan. 29 to host Cal State Northridge with tip-off slated for 7:00 p.m. To purchase tickets, please call (805) 893-UCSB, visit the Ticket Office located inside the Intercollegiate Athletics building on campus or buy online and print at home by clicking here.

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

Don't forget, fans can follow UCSB Athletics on twitter by going to twitter.com/UCSBgauchos and the men's basketball program at twitter.com/UCSBbasketball.

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