Men's Basketball Comeback Is Not Enough As They Drop Season Opener At Pepperdine, 64-53

A late second-half run was not enough for UC Santa Barbara as the Gauchos dropped their 2000-01 men's basketball opener, 64-53 at Pepperdine.

After trailing only 22-18 at half, UCSB guard LaRon Bryant hit a three-point shot from deep in the corner with 19:23 remaining in the game to narrow the Wave margin to 22-21, but the Gauchos went scoreless for the next five minutes and when Pepperdine's Kelvin Gibbs hit a short jumper with 15:48 to go, it completed an 11-0 run and suddenly the Waves were up by 12 at 33-21. A 15-foot jump shot by Gaucho freshman Branduinn Fullove halted Pepperdine's run and made the score 33-23 with 15:14 left. The Waves then ran off five more in a row to stretch the lead to 15 at 38-23.

Pepperdine built its lead to 19 points at 47-28 and they still led by 19 at 53-34 when Gibbs drained another jumper with 7:59 remaining. That was when the Gauchos caught fire. Fullove made another jump shot, forward Mark Hull hit a short jumper, guard B.J. Ward made a pair of free throws and then, with 6:16 to go in the game, freshman Nick Jones canned a three-pointer from the top of the key to complete a 9-0 run and cut the Pepperdine lead to 53-43.

Gibbs slowed the UCSB run by hitting one-of-two free throws with 6:13 left, but two free throws by Fullove and a short jumper by Ward narrowed the Wave lead to 54-47. This time the Gaucho run was slowed when All-American candidate Brandon Armstrong hit one-of-two free throws with 4:03 to go. With 3:44 remaining, Hull hit a pair of free throws to cut the Wave advantage to 55-49. about a minute later, Hull went to the line again, missing the first and then making the second to narrow the margin to 55-50.

With just over two minutes remaining, the Gauchos suffered their biggest setback of the game. Trailing by six at 56-50, they forced a missed shot by Pepperdine. Two UCSB players went up for the rebound, senior Juliano Jordani came down the board to start a fastbreak, but Fullove came down on his teammates foot, spraining his right ankle. The Gauchos did not convert on the two-on-one breakaway and Fullove was carried off the floor, unable to put any weight on his right foot. From that point, it was a Pepperdine free throw show as they took nine charity attempts in the final 1:59, ultimately winning by 11, 64-53.

Both team struggled with their offense. UCSB shot only 34.0% from the floor and, due in great part to the Pepperdine's trapping defense, they were forced into 24 turnovers, 16 in the first half. The Waves, meanwhile, shot 41.8% for the game, but a solid 58.3% in the second half. The Gauchos were paced by Fullove who hit 4-of-8 shots, including his only three-point attempt and all four of his free throws to finish with 13 points. Bryant hit 3-of-5 shots from beyond the three-point line and finished with 11 points. Senior forward Juliano Jordani, playing a career-high 32 minutes, attempted only four shots and scored four points, but he paced UCSB with ten rebounds. Gibbs led Pepperdine with 18 points and 12 rebounds. Armstrong scored 13 points, but he was limited to a mere 4-for-16 shooting from the field.

The Gauchos, who were playing without injured senior forward Adama Ndiaye (fractured finger on his left hand) are now 0-1 and they will play their home opener on Tuesday night at the Thunderdome. The game against USF is scheduled to tipoff at 7:00 p.m.