Feb. 11, 2001
Santa Barbara, Calif. -
On Saturday, the UC Santa Barbara men's basketball team piled up an impressive 22 point second half lead over visiting Cal Poly, and then held on to defeat the Mustangs, 95-88 in a Big West Conference game at the Thunderdome.
Sophomore swingman Mark Hull scored a career-high 31 points, including 20 in a row over a five minute span bridging the first and second halves, to lead UCSB to its fifth straight win. Hull's 31 point effort was the most points scored by a Gaucho player since the 1998-99 season, and it bested his previous career-high by eight points.
"Mark was outstanding tonight," said Gaucho head coach Bob Williams. "He really stepped up and played at the top of his game. He has been so good all year that we sometimes take him for granted, but tonight he was really special."
With 5:47 remaining in the game, Mustang guard Mike Burris knifed through the lane and made a layup to cut UCSB's lead to 75-73. Jones responded with a layup of his own to make it 77-73. Cal Poly's David Henry then hit a pair of free throws with 5:00 to go, making it a two-point game for the last time, 77-75. Atako was then fouled by Burris on the inbounds play, and he hit both free throws to extend the advantage to 79-75.
After the Mustangs missed a shot, the Gauchos came down and, with time running out on the shot clock, Atako pulled up just inside the free throw line and nailed a 15-foot jumper, extending the lead to 81-75. UCSB then forced Cal Poly into a turnover and Jones took a pass and drove the left side, making a spectacular layup. In addition to the basket, Jones was fouled by Burris and he hit the free throw to extend the lead to 84-75.
Following a media timeout, Burris hit a three-pointer and then a layup to cut the Gaucho advantage to 84-80 with 2:36 remaining. Atako then made one of two free throws to give UCSB a five point lead. The Gauchos then forced Cal Poly's Chris Bjorklund to miss a short jumper and Jones came down and hit another layup to expand the lead to make it 87-80 Gauchos with 1:35 remaining.
Santa Barbara made 8-of-10 free throws in the final 1:15 to secure the win.
Hull led the way with 31 points, five rebounds and a pair of steals. Jones finished with 15 points and four rebounds. Atako had a career-high 11 points to go with four assists and three rebounds. Another freshman, Branduinn Fullove, had 14 points (on 4-of-5 from the field), five assists and two rebounds. Mike Vukovich, who fouled out in 15 minutes, had nine points, five rebounds and three blocked shots. Cal Poly was paced by a pair of freshmen as Jamaal Scott had 21 points and Varnie Dennis wound up with 15 points and eight rebounds.
For the game, the Gauchos made 29-of-43 shots from the field, 67.4, the fourth best mark in school history and the best since November of 1989. UCSB, however, committed 19 turnovers and allowed Cal Poly to grab 22 offensive rebounds. The Mustangs were limited to 37.7%, but they attempted 26 more shots than the Gauchos.
UCSB has now won five games in a row and they are alone in third place in the Big West with a 7-4 league mark. Overall, the Gauchos improve to 10-11. Cal Poly is now 8-13 overall and 2-8 in the Big West.
Santa Barbara returns to the court on Thursday, February 15 when they host defending Big West Champion Utah State in a 7:00 p.m. game at the Thunderdome.