March 4, 2004

Fullove's Three-Pointer in Closing Seconds Caps Comeback as Gauchos Edge UC Irvine, 56-55

March 4, 2004

Box Score

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Senior guard Branduinn Fullove's three-point basket with 11 seconds to go in the game gave UC Santa Barbara a 56-55 win over visiting UC Irvine in a Big West game Thursday night.

The win guarantees the Gauchos (15-11 overall, 9-8 in the Big West) of at least a fourth-place finish in the league standings and a bye in the first round of next week's Big West Tournament in Anaheim.

Anteater forward Stanislav Zuzak hit a three-pointer at the halftime buzzer to give his team a comfortable 33-22 lead at the break. UCSB, however, scored 11 consecutive points to open the second half and tie the score. Jacoby Atako made a three-pointer to start the run and narrow the gap to eight, 33-25. Forward Cameron Goettsche, who finished with game-highs of 16 points and 11 rebounds, then made a three-pointer at the 17:47 mark to make it 33-28. A three-pointer by Fullove cut the gap to two, 33-31, with 17:00 remaining and then an Atako to Goettsche alley-oop dunk tied the score at 33 apiece.

After a Jeff Gloger three-pointer gave UCI a 36-33 edge, Fullove hit another three-pointer to once again tie the game. The lead see-sawed for the remainder of the game. Guard Ross Schraeder had 12 points for the Anteaters, all on three-point baskets, including one at the 3:28 mark to give his team a 52-49 lead.

Goettsche responded to Schraeder's three-pointer with another slam dunk off of an assist from Fullove with 3:01 remaining. After a UCI timeout, Anteater center Adam Parada was whistled for a travel and the Gauchos took advantage as they got the ball into the post. UCI's Matt Okoro fouled Gaucho forward Casey Cook and Cook hit a pair of free throws to give UCSB a 53-52 lead with 2:03 to go in the game.

Following another Irvine timeout, Parada was fouled by Josh Davis on a reach-in. The seven-footer hit two free throws to put the Anteaters back up by one, 54-53 with 1:38 left. After a UCSB turnover, Parada was fouled by UCSB's Bryan Whitehead, but this time Parada missed the first free throw before making the second.

With UCI leading 55-53, the Gauchos committed another turnover, just their tenth of the game, but with 37 seconds left, Parada missed a jump shot and the rebound went out of bounds off of an Anteater player. UCSB called timeout to set up a final play.

After working the ball around, Santa Barbara guard Joe See took the ball in front of his team's bench and went around a screen, drawing a pair of defenders. See found Fullove open above the three-point arc on the right side and he hit the senior captain with a pass. Fullove set-up and calmly drilled the 23-footer.

UCSB called its final timeout to set-up defensively. The Anteaters quickly moved the ball up the court. Zuzak hit Schraeder with a pass at the baseline. Schraeder tried to shoot a 15-footer, but he was closely defended by the Gauchos' Davis. Goettsche rebounded the miss as the final buzzer sounded.

"I like the match-up of Davis on Schraeder," said UCSB head coach Bob Williams. "I thought Josh played him very well and that's why he was in the game. Schraeder had hurt us from the perimeter and Josh is one of our best defenders. He really came through."

Williams also praised the play of Goettsche, who, while playing with a fractured right thumb, had the second double-double of his career.

"This was Cameron's best game," Williams assessed. "I look not only at his points (16) and rebounds (11), but at his three blocked shots and the committment he showed on the defensive end of the court. He really inspired us."

Although UCSB shot just 35.4% for the game, they made 6-of-11 three-point attempts in the second half. The Gauchos also held UCI (11-16 overall, 6-11 in the Big West) to just 5-of-20 shooting in the second half. The Anteaters did make 9-of-17 shots from three-point range for the game, 52.9%.

Fullove finished with ten points, including the final three. It marked the sixth-straight game in which he scored in double-figures, his longest streak of the season. UCSB also made 15 of its final 17 free throws in the win.

While the win guarantees the Gauchos of at least a fourth-place finish in the Big West, they still have a chance to finish in third-place. UCSB needs Utah State to win at Idaho on Friday night and then the Gauchos need to win their regular season finale against Long Beach State on Saturday night.

UCSB hosts Long Beach State on Saturday night at 7:00 p.m. in the Thunderdome. The game will mark the final home appearance for five Gaucho seniors, Branduinn Fullove, Nick Jones, Jacoby Atako, Bryan Whitehead and injured Bray Skultety.