Feb. 9, 2006
IRVINE, Calif. (AP) - Chris Devine scored 18 points, Cecil Brown had 14, including a pair of clutch jumpers in the final minutes, as UC Santa Barbara edged first-place UC Irvine 60-59 Thursday night in Irvine.
The Gauchos (9-11, 2-6 Big West Conference) have won two straight for the first time since the first two games of the season in November. Despite the loss UC Irvine (13-10, 9-2) remains in first place in the Big West.
The teams played a see-saw game with neither team ever leading by more than six points. UCSB led by one at half, 29-28, but when guard Aaron Fitzgerald made a three-point basket with 13:34 remaining, the Anteaters led 43-37.
Less than a minute after Fitzgerald gave UCI its biggest lead of the game, Brown responded for the Gauchos with a three-pointer of his own to pull his team to within three, 43-40. Following a steal by Devine, UCSB guard Josh Davis followed his own missed shot with a rebound and a short bank shot to make it 43-42.
A pair of free throws by Anteater reserve Dustin Price made it 45-42 with 10:40 left. Devine made it 45-44 when he made a pair of charity shots. With 8:41 remaining in the game, it was Patrick Sanders' turn to go to the free throw line for two. Sanders, however, made the first and missed the second and Davis made another Gaucho lay-up on the offensive end to tie the score, 46 apiece.
UCSB made yet another solid defensive stand and Joe See rewarded the effort with his first three-point basket of the night to give the Gauchos a 49-46 advantage with 6:51 to go.
The teams traded missed shots, but Devine followed a Gaucho miss with an offensive rebound. He was fouled in the act of shooting and connected on two more free throws to make it 51-46 UCSB with 5:46 left on the clock.
Nic Campbell made a driving lay-up to pull Irvine to within three, but See did him one better with his second three-pointer of the game to give Santa Barbara its biggest lead, 54-48 with 3:47 left. Not to be outdone, Campbell hit a three-pointer to cut the gap to 54-51.
On the next possession, See was whistled for a charging foul and then on the other end, Davis fouled Fitzgerald. The Anteater point guard, who was scoreless in the first half but had a team-high 17 points for the game, made both free throws to bring his team to within one, 54-53 and set the stage for the first of Brown's two key shots.
With the shot clock inside five seconds, Brown looked as though he lost the dribble as he drove across the key near the free throw line. Instead of losing the dribble, however, the senior gathered himself and calmly took a 15-foot fall-away that hit nothing but the bottom of the net with 2:12 to play.
Fitzgerald made another pair of free throws for UCI to makde the score 56-55 Gauchos with just 1:54 to play and after a defensive stand by the Anteaters, Darren Fells scored on a lay-up to give his team its final lead at 57-56 with 1:08 left.
Brown again responded for UCSB. He took a pass near the top of the key, drove into the center of the lane, just past the free throw line, went up for a jumper, double-pumped as a UCI defender flew by, and hit another shot to give the Gauchos a 58-57 lead with just 43 seconds remaining.
After a missed 3-point attempt by Fitzgerald, the Gauchos' Alex Harris was fouled with 24 seconds to play. Harris missed the front end of the one-and-one, but Glenn Turner grabbed the offensive rebound and banked in a bucket to give Santa Barbara a 60-57 lead. Turner had a career-high 12 rebounds, but the basket was his first and only one of the night.
Fitzgerald streaked down the court in traffic and scored with 12 seconds remaining to cut the Gauchos' lead to 60-59.
He got the ball back with 11 seconds to play after UCSB's Michael Chambers missed a free throw, but the Anteaters had no time-outs and Fitzgerald, swarmed by defenders, including Davis, Brown and Chambers, couldn't get a pass or shot off before the final buzzer had sounded.
UCSB will travel to Long Beach State on Saturday, Feb. 11, for a 5:35 p.m. game at the Walter Pyramid. The Gauchos will be looking to win their third straight game, something they have not achieved this year.