March 4, 2000
Santa Barbara, Calif. - On a night when UC Santa Barbara men's basketball celebrated its three senior players, it took the efforts of a trio of underclassmen to lead the Gauchos to a come-from-behind 58-53 victory over the University of Pacific Tigers Saturday night at the Thunderdome.
When Pacific's Clay McKnight hit a three-point basket with 3:57 remaining in the game, UCSB trailed by eight at 51-43. The Gauchos proceeded to outscore the Tigers 15-2 the rest of the way to post the win. Freshman swingman Mark Hull scored eight points, junior forward Adama Ndiaye tallied four points and a vital blocked shot and junior guard LaRon Bryant drained a three-pointer to give UCSB its 58-53 advantage.
Following McKnight's three-pointer, Ndiaye hit a pair of free throws with 3:32 left in the game to narrow the gap to 51-45. After a steal, Bryant took a pass in the right corner, backed-up to three-point territory and hit a 20-footer to pull the Gauchos to within three at 51-48. After a couple of missed shots and change of possessions, Hull drove to the basket and was fouled by UOP's Barry Marvel. With 1:21 remaining, he went to the free throw line for the double bonus and connected on both attempts, closing the gap to one point at 51-50.
After Hull made his two free throws, UCSB called timeout. The Gauchos pressed out of the timeout and it was broken by the Tigers. UOP forward Mike Hahn broke free for a layup but was fouled by Ndiaye. Hahn hit a pair of free throws to extend his team's advantage to 53-50. That was the last scoring the Tigers would do.
After Hahn canned his pair of free throws, it was Hull's turn to steal the spotlight. With 1:05 left in the contest, he calmly took a pass in the far right corner and drilled a three-point shot to tie the score at 53-53. It was the first time since the 10:44 mark of the second half that the Gauchos did not trail in the game.
Following Hull's three-pointer, the Gauchos received a pair of breaks. With 0:55 left in the game, Bryant fouled Tiger guard Nathan Davis. Davis went to the line for one-plus-one and missed the first free throw. Ndiaye came down with the rebound and got the ball to senior guard Larry Bell. Bell dribbled inside the top of the key, but with 0:41 remaining, he turned into defender Peter Heizer, who stole the ball. Bell fouled Heizer with 0:39 to go.
Heizer stepped to the free throw line and like his teammate Davis, he too missed the front end of the one-and-one. Ndiaye came down the board and the Gauchos called timeout. Following the timeout, UCSB again got the ball to Bell. This time, UCSB ran a picture-perfect backdoor play. Bell hit Hull on a backdoor cut on the right side of the key. Hull layed the ball in and was fouled by Tiger forward Bill Walton. Hull made the free throw to put the Gauchos up 56-53 with 0:23 remaining in the game.
The game, however, was not over. Following a timeout, Pacific worked the ball to McKnight, who finished with a team-high 15 points on 5-of-9 from three-point territory. He missed a three-point attempt with nine seconds remaining and the ball went out of bounds, off a Gaucho. Pacific inbounded and Barry Marvel launched a three-pointer from the left corner but but it was blocked by Ndiaye, who caught the ball following the block and was fouled by UOP's Davis. Ndiaye went to the free throw line with 0:03 left and hit a pair of free throws to give UCSB its final margin, 58-53.
In the game, the Gauchos were paced by Ndiaye who had 16 points (making 5-of-7 shots from the field), 12 rebounds, four blocked shots and an assists. It was is fifth double-double of the season. Hull finished with 16 points, five rebounds and one blocked shots. Hull made 5-of-6 shots from the field, including 3-for-3 from three-point range. Bell only scored two points, but he finished with a game-high nine assists.
Santa Barbara entered the game ranked 15th in the nation in field goal percentage defense and they limited Pacific to 18-of-48 from the floor, 37.5%. In addition, the Gauchos outrebounded the Tigers by five, 36-31. Finally, by making 5-of-16 shots from three-point range, the Gauchos broke the school record for three-point baskets in a single season with 165. The previous record of 164 was set in 1994-95.
UCSB completes its regular season with an overall record of 14-13 and a Big West mark of 10-6. They finish second in the Big West's Western Division and they will play the University of Nevada in the first round of the Big West Tournament on Thursday night in Reno. The Gauchos opened the regular season with records of 0-4 and 2-7, but they closed by going 14-9 and 12-6. In league play, they opened by going 0-3 and finished by going 10-3.