Feb. 11, 2006
LONG BEACH, Calif. - In seasons past, UC Santa Barbara would take a lead into the closing minutes and waning seconds at Long Beach State only to lose a heartbreaker at the buzzer.
This wasn't seasons past.
On the strength of clutch three-point baskets by Cecil Brown and Joe See and near-perfect free throw shooting in the final minute, the visiting Gauchos defeated the 49ers 81-78 at the Walter Pyramid on Saturday. The win gives UCSB its first three-game winning streak of the season.
The Gauchos (10-11 overall, 3-6 in the Big West), who used an 18-2 run in the first half to overcome a five-point deficit and take an 11 point lead, needed to rally again late. Leading 53-44 with 15:01 to go in the game, UCSB allowed its lead to evaporate as Long Beach (11-11 overall, 6-5 in the Big West) used a 10-0 spurt to claim a 54-53 edge with 13:08 remaining.
The lead changed hands nine times the rest of the way, but when Shawn Hawkins made a soaring lay-up and Jibril Hodges hit a pair of free throws, the 49ers were up 72-68 with 4:04 to go. The teams traded baskets and free throws over the next two minutes, giving Long Beach a 76-70 lead.
Clinging to a 76-72 edge after a pair of Alex Harris free throws, Long Beach had an opportunity to go-up six when Mark Dawson was fouled by Glenn Turner with 1:33 on the clock. Dawson, however, missed both free throws, the Gauchos rebounded and went to work.
See took the ball at the top of the three-point circle straight-away, found Brown open on his right just beyond the arc. Brown took a quick dribble and then hit a 21-footer to pull the Gauchos within one, 76-75.
On the defensive end, unbable to shake UCSB's Josh Davis, 49er guard Kevin Houston was whistled for a five-second call. The Gauchos took advantage of the turnover when See made a three-pointer from beyond the three-point line on the left side to give them a 78-76 lead with 48 seconds left in the game.
After a 49er timeout, UCSB forced another turnover with 30 seconds to go in the game. The Gauchos ran several second off the clock before Brown was fouled with 16 second to go. Brown missed the first of two free throws, but made the second to extend the edge to 79-76.
Rather than take a three-point shot, Houston drove the lane for Long Beach and went in for a lay-up. He was fouled by Turner and went to the free throw line where he hit a pair of free throws to narrow the gap to 79-78 with 10 second remaining on the clock.
UCSB's Michael Chambers was fouled with no time running off the clock. After the 49ers took another timeout, Chambers calmly stepped to the free throw line and made a pair of free throws to cap an 11-2 run and give the Gauchos an 81-78 lead.
Long Beach got two desperation shots to tie the score in the closing seconds. Aaron Nixon missed a long three-pointer from above the key, but the rebound was knocked out of bounds by UCSB with 2.7 second left. A final attempt by Houston went awry and the Gauchos had their first win in Long Beach since the 2000-01 season.
"That was a great win for this team," said UCSB head coach Bob Williams. "There are a lot of ghosts here for us, but tonight we did all the things we needed to do to win. Cecil (Brown) and Joe (See) made huge shots and I was so happy for Michael Chambers when he made the two free throws."
Williams also felt that the play of Davis and Alex Harris was pivotal.
"Josh (Davis) was outstanding defensively, bringing the ball up the court against pressure and rebounding," he assessed. "Alex (Harris) has been playing so well the last few games and tonight he played great again and it was important that he made all eight of his free throws."
Brown scored a team-high 23 points for UCSB, his second-highest scoring effort ever. Chris Devine produced the second double-double of his career and finished with 14 points, 11 rebounds and two steals. Harris had 13 points and just one turnover in 25 minutes. Davis, who scored just two points, had five rebounds, three assists and a pair of steals. See had seven points and a team-high four assists.
For Long Beach, Hodges made 6-of-9 three-point attempts and had a game-high 24 points. Houston added 14
UCSB returns to the Thunderdome on Wednesday, Feb. 15, for a 7:00 p.m. game against Central Coast rival Cal Poly.