Feb. 17, 2000
Fullerton, Calif. - UC Santa Barbara's long journey to the .500 mark finally ended on Thursday night as the Gauchos won their fifth straight game, 82-67 over Cal State Fullerton, evening their overall record on the season at 11-11 and giving them a 7-4 mark in Big West play.
UCSB, which opened the season 0-4 and 4-10, have their longest winning streak since they won five in a row at the end of the 1992-93 season. In addition to the five game streak, they have won seven of their last eight since an 0-3 start to the Big West season. The victory also assured the Gauchos of a spot in the eight team Big West Tournament in Reno March 9-11.
After taking an early 12-8 lead, the Gauchos fell behind the Titans by as many as five points in the first half. When Fullerton's Brandon Campbell tipped in a missed shot with 2:31 remaining in the half, his team led 30-25. But UCSB outscored the Titans 7-2 to end the half and at the break the score was tied 32-32.
In the first half, the Gauchos lived by the outside shot. They were 7-of-14 from three-point range in the first 20 minutes and only 5-of-19 from two-point range. Erick Ashe hit five first half three-pointers and led the team with 15 points. Brandon Payton made 2-of-3 from three-point territory and had 11 at the break.
Santa Barbara jumped out of the gate quickly in the second half. After the teams traded baskets to make the score 34-34 with 19:25 remaining, Gaucho forward Adama Ndiaye took control. He scored 11 straight points for UCSB in a four and a half minute span of the second half. With 18:14 remaining in the game, Ndiaye took a perfect alley-oop pass from Larry Bell and slammed it home to give UCSB a 40-34 lead. A three-point basket by Mark Murphy and an inside bucket by Ike Harmon cut the lead back down to one at 40-39 with 16:49 left in the game.
Ndiaye responded to Harmon's basket by hitting an acrobatic layin and getting fouled by Brandon Campbell. He made the free throw and UCSB led 43-39 with 16:27 left. Ndiaye then hit another inside shot off of a rebound with 15:39 left, giving the Gauchos a 45-39 lead.
After a basket by Titan forward Dan Thompson cut the lead to 45-41, the Gauchos outscored Fullerton 12-0 to take a commanding 57-41 lead with 10:02 left in the game. In the 12-0 run, Payton scored eight points on a pair of three-point baskets and a layup and Ndiaye hit four free throws.
In the final ten minutes, the Gaucho lead never dropped below eight.
It was a career night for several UCSB players. Payton made 8-of-12 shots overall and 5-of-7 from three-point range to finish with a career-high 28 points, one point better than the 27 points he scored in a win at Cal Poly two weeks ago, the first win of UCSB's current five game streak. Ndiaye made 7-of-11 shots from the field and all four of his free throws to finish with a career-high 19, 15 of which came in the second half. Ashe scored 21 points, making 5-of-10 three-point shots, and he tied his career-high with five steals. Derrick Allen scored only three points, but he had a career-best 11 assists and only one turnover.
In the victory, UCSB had a season-low seven turnovers to go with their 22 assists. They shot 45.0% from the field overall, 55.6% in the second half. They also outrebounded the Titans, 38-36. Finally, the Gauchos hit 10-of-24 shots from three-point range, a solid 41.7%.
With the victory, UCSB is now 11-11 overall and 7-4 in Big West play. They are two games ahead of Pacific in the battle for second place in the Big West's Western Conference. UCSB trails first place Long Beach State by three games. As mentioned earlier, the win also guarantees the Gauchos a spot in Big West Tournament.
UCSB will remain in Orange County for a Saturday, February 19 encounter at UC Irvine beginning at 7:00 p.m.