March 12, 2009
ANAHEIM, Calif. - Five UC Santa Barbara players scored in double-figures on Thursday night as the fourth-seeded Gauchos knocked-off Cal State Fullerton 73-64 in the quarterfinals of the 2009 Big West Tournament in Anaheim, Calif. The Titans were the defending tournament champions. The Gauchos will play top-seeded Cal State Northridge at 5:30 p.m. on Friday night. The game will be televised on ESPNU.
Freshman James Nunnally led UCSB with 15 points, making all three of his field goal attempts and all eight free throw attempts, while senior Chris Devine added 14 and freshman Will Brew, Jr., had 13. Brew scored all 13 of his points in final 14 minutes, making all five of his field goal attempts over that span, including three three-point baskets.
"We got such great contributions from so many different players," said UCSB head coach Bob Williams. "Our guys really stepped-up all night. I said it the other night after our last game and I'll say it again, I am really proud of this group."
Santa Barbara trailed by as many as five points in the first half. With 4:21 to play a free throw by Aaron Thompson gave Fullerton a 20-17 lead, but the Gauchos scored the final nine points of the second half to claim a 26-20 lead at the break.
"That was a key stretch," Williams said. "We could have gone either way in those final minutes, but we came with a whole different group of five and they really sparked us."
UCSB led for much of the second half, but the Titans fought back to take the lead on a number of occasions, the last time coming at 56-55 with 4:57 left. There were 11 ties in the game, six in the second half.
UCSB (16-14 overall) has equaled its longest winning streak of the season at four in a row. The Gauchos have also won eight of nine. As a team, they shot 50.0% overall and 63.2% in the second half. In addition, they made 20-of-23 from the free throw line in the second half.
Fullerton (15-17 overall) was paced by Big West Player of the Year Josh Akognon who had 23 points, including 18 in the second half. He made 6-of-16 shots, including 4-of-10 from beyond the three-point arc, one night after setting a tournament record by scoring 37 points in a win over UC Riverside.
The Gauchos will play Cal State Northridge, the No. 1 seeded team on Friday night at 5:30 p.m. at the Anaheim Convention Center. Plenty of good seats remain available for the semifinal game. No. 3 Pacific will play No. 2 Long Beach State in the second game.
In addition, the game will be televised on ESNPU. ESPNU is available on channel 264 on Cox Digital Cable in Santa Barbara, on Direct TV channel 614, and Dish Network channel 148. Check with your local cable provider for your channel number.