Nov. 24, 2001
In Saturday night's 69-49 UCSB road win at the University of San Francisco, Cook and Atako grew up.
Statistics don't tell the story for the second-year duo. Atako played 29 minutes and directed UCSB's efficient offense, while Cook, forced to play 22 minutes because of foul trouble, had eight rebounds and helped limit USF's talented Darrell Tucker to seven points.
"I can't say enough about Jacoby and Casey," head coach Bob Williams said. "Jacoby stepped-up to do a great job against their pressure and he ran the offense as well as he ever has. Casey was a man out there. He defended and rebounded as well as I've seen him. With Adama (Ndiaye) and Vuk (Mike Vukovich) getting in foul trouble early, he and (Bryan) Whitehead really saved us."
Despite the frontcourt foul trouble, UCSB jumped out to a lead in the first half. Atako hit a three-pointer to open the game and the Gauchos led by as many as nine points early, but USF guard Shamell Stallworth hit a three-pointer with 7:11 to go in the half, pulling the Dons into a 21-21 tie. With 5:37 remaining, Tucker made a lay-up, capping a 13-0 run and giving USF its biggest lead of the game, 26-21.
The Gauchos responded with a 15-0 run of their own. At the 3:58 mark, junior wing Mark Hull drained a three-pointer to cut the USF lead to 26-24. With 3:40 remaining, sophomore guard Branduinn Fullove drew an offensive foul and hit a pair of free throws to tie the score at 26 apiece. After a Don miss, the Gauchos reclaimed the lead on a three-pointer by sophomore guard Nick Jones. Jones wasn't finished, after Fullove rebounded another Don miss, UCSB worked the ball up the court. Whitehead took a pass near the free throw line, drove into the lane and spotted Jones open in the corner. Jones took the pass and drained another three-pointer, making it 32-26 UCSB. Two-pointers by Fullove and Hull gave the Gauchos a 15-0 outburst and a 36-26 lead. Tucker made one of two free throws to narrow the gap to 36-27 at half.
"I thought the way we responded at the end of the first half was huge," Williams recalled. "When they went on their run, we could have folded, but we didn't. So many players were a part of our run, and that was great to see."
Both teams started out slow in the second half, but it was UCSB that drew first blood when Fullove hit a short baseline jumper with 17:39 to go, giving his team an 11-point lead. Atako then made a 15-footer from the right side, giving the Gauchos a 13-point advantage.
With 16:15 to go in the game, Stallworth hit another three-pointer for USF, cutting the Gaucho lead to nine, 42-33. That marked the last time the UCSB lead would dip below double-digits.
The Gauchos did it with defense in the second half, holding the Dons to just six points in the decisive first eight minutes.
UCSB had four players in double-figures. Fullove led the way with 22 points and seven rebounds. After missing his first free throw of the game, Fullove hit his final ten. Mark Hull had 15 points and five rebounds, making 7-of-10 shots from the field. Atako finished with 11 points, the third highest total of his career. He also had a team-high five assists. Jones had ten points, making both of his three-point attempts. Cook had five points and a team-high eight rebounds. Ndiaye, limited to 17 minutes because of foul trouble, had five points, four rebounds and a blocked shot. Vukovich was scoreless in 13 foul-plagued minutes.
As a team, the Gauchos shot 44.4% from the floor, including an impressive 6-of-9 (66.7%) from three-point range. USF, meanwhile, was limited to 26.4% from the field. UCSB also won the battle of the boards, outrebounding the Dons 43-28.
With the victory, the Gauchos improve to 2-0 for the first time since the 1994-95 season. USF drops to 1-2 on the year, with its other loss coming by eight-points to nationally-ranked Seton Hall.
UCSB's roadtrip does not get easier as the Gauchos travel to USC on Monday night for a 7:30 p.m. game at the Sports Arena against the 23rd-ranked Trojans.