Freshman guard Branduinn Fullove's 12-foot jump shot with 1.8 seconds to go in the game, gave UCSB the Big West victory. The bucket by the Simi Valley High School graduate gave him a career-high 23 points and it enabled the Gauchos to post their fourth straight league win and move into third place all alone. But it wasn't easy.
UCSB, which lost to the Vandals in Moscow, Idaho on January 20 by one point, led by as many as ten points in the second half. In fact, the Gauchos led by four at half and never trailed in the second half. Idaho's Brett Wise nailed a back-to-back jumpers, the second one coming with 1:23 left in the game to tie the score at 65-65, the first tie since late in the first half.
Following Wise's game-tying shot, the Gauchos called timeout. Sophomore Mark Hull, who finished with 13 points, missed a 15-footer, but Fullove made a spectacular left-handed tip-in from about six feet out in the center of the lane, giving UCSB a 67-65 lead. The Vandals then worked the ball to Bethuel Fletcher, who was fouled by Santa Barbara guard B.J. Ward about 25 feet away from the basket. He hit both free throws with 22 seconds remaining in the game, setting the stage for Fullove's last-second heroics.
In addition to his 23 points, Fullove led the Gauchos with seven rebounds, four assists and a blocked shot. Hull added 13 points, while Mike Vukovich and Nick Jones each had 11 points. Jones also had five rebounds.
As a team, UCSB made 26-of-49 shots from the field, 53.1%. Idaho hit only 22-of-53 shots, 41.5%. The Gauchos, however, had 17 turnovers.
On the year, Santa Barbara is now 9-11 overall and 6-4 in the Big West, one-half game ahead of Boise State (5-4), which defeated Cal State Fullerton on Thursday night. UCSB has now won a season-high four straight games.
The Gauchos will continue their homestand on Saturday night when they host Central Coast rival Cal Poly in a 7:00 p.m. game at the Thunderdome.