Nov. 9, 2007
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STANFORD, Calif. - The UC Santa Barbara men's basketball team has a major Bay Area presence on its roster and on Friday night, those players had a major impact in the Gauchos' 2007-08 season-opening win, a 92-71 victory over Northwestern State in the Basketball Travelers Classic at Stanford.
Senior guard Alex Harris, a native of Alameda, scored a game-high 27 points, and senior forward Ivan Elliot, a San Franciscan, tallied a career-high 17 to lead UCSB. Sophomore guard Paul Roemer (Martinez) came off the bench to score a career-high 10, and sophomore guard Justin Joyner (Antioch) had three points and five assists in the win.
An Elliott lay-up with 17:29 remaining in the first half gave the Gauchos an 11-9 lead. UCSB didn't trail again until a Trey Gilder dunk gave the Demons a 43-42 lead with 18:59 to play in the second half.
The lead see-sawed for the next few minutes, but a lay-up by senior forward Nedim Pajevic with 15:38 to play gave Santa Barbara a 50-49 edge and ignited an 11-0 run that put the game away. Elliott scored seven of the 11 points in the rally, including a long three-pointer.
"Ivan was really outstanding tonight," said UCSB head coach Bob Williams. "He was active and really gave us a lot of energy. This is what we've seen since the first day of practice in October and he just kept it going tonight."
Elliott made 8-of-10 shots from the field while adding three steals and three rebounds in the win.
Northwestern State narrowed the lead to 59-53 on another Gilder dunk with 12:11 to play, but never got any closer. The last time the Demons were as close as six was on a jumper by Colby Bargeman with 10:21 to play, but Harris countered that bucket with his first three-point basket of the night to give UCSB a 66-57 lead.
The three-pointer by Harris, a preseason Mid-Major All-American, started a 17-5 Gaucho surge that put the game out of reach at 82-62. Harris had 13 of the 17 points in the decisive run and the lead never fell below 18 the rest of the way.
"Alex scored his points kind of quietly tonight,"Williams said. "But you look at the box score and he finishes with 27. He was really big for us during that stretch in the second half when we put the game away."
After allowing Northwestern State to shoot 55.6% in the first half, the Gauchos limited the Demons to just 37.1% in the second half and 45.2% for the game. On the other hand, despite leading by a pair at half, 40-38, UCSB shot just 41.2% in the first 20 minutes. In the second half, the Gauchos turned it around, making 51.4% to finish at 46.4% for the game.
In all, five Santa Barbara players scored in double-figures. In addition to the Bay Area trio of Harris, Elliott and Roemer, junior forward Chris Devine added 13 points and Pajevic added 10. Devine gave his team a scare late in the first half when he went down hard on the offensive end, banging his knee on the floor. After hobbling to the bench and then briefly going to the locker room, he returned to the game and played much of the second half.
UCSB, which employed a hard trap in the frontcourt for much of the game, had 12 steals and forced Northwestern State into 28 turnovers. Elliott and junior guard D.J. Posley each had three of the steals for the Gauchos.
Santa Barbara also won the battle of the boards, 39-37, and eight players had at least three rebounds, led by guard James Powell and forward Beau Gibb who each had five. The Gauchos had 19 assists and, in addition to Joyner's team-leading five, Roemer and Powell each had four.
The win over Northwestern State was the first of three games in three days for UCSB. The Gauchos will play Harvard on Saturday in a game that will tip-off at 4:30 p.m. in Maples Pavilion. On Sunday, they will play Stanford in a 3:00 p.m. game.