Nov. 23, 2009
In the early going, the Gauchos (3-0) were led by Nunnally who scored 12 of his points in the first half. He hit consecutive three-pointers to open the game. Johnson scored 19 of his 25 in the second half, including six in the final 2:14.
"Both of those guys (Nunnally and Johnson) are capable of going off for 30 at any time," said UCSB head coach Bob Williams. "Tonight, Nun carried us in the first half and then O.J. got going. It's a really good combination."
UCSB jumped out to a quick 15-6 lead with 14:32 to play in the first half, but the Dons (2-2) scratched back to cut the lead to one on three separate occasions, the final being at 27-26 with 2:23 remaining in the first half. A lay-up by Will Brew near the end of the first half put the Gauchos up 33-28 at the break.
A 15-foot jumper by Nunnally opened the second half and pushed Santa Barbara's lead to seven, 35-28. A put-back by Johnson with 13:41 to play in the game gave the Gauchos their biggest lead to that point, 47-36, but San Francisco slowly narrowed the gap and when Dior Lowhorn made a lay-up with 8:34 left, the Dons were within five, 55-50. Lowhorn finished with a game-high 26 points.
The lead stayed between five and seven until San Francisco's Dontae Bryant made one of two free throws with 5:45 remaining to bring his team within four, 59-55.
That was as close as the Dons would get. A pair of free throws by the Gauchos' Sam Phippen, a three-pointer by Nunnally, and two more free throws by Johnson boosted the advantage to 66-55 with 4:01 to play. After UCSB forced the Dons into a turnover, the Gauchos committed two of their own on consecutive plays. USF took advantage with a pair of free throws from Bryant and a breakaway slam dunk by Lowhorn to pull within seven, 66-59.
On the next Santa Barbara possession, Johnson was fouled while making a hanging jump shot inside the key. He made the free throw to give UCSB a double-digit lead, 69-59 with 2:14 to play. San Francisco would continue to commit fouls, but the Gauchos made 7-of-8 free throws down the stretch to seal the victory.
Johnson added a game-high nine rebounds to go with his team-high 25 points. He also had a pair of steals and a spectacular second half block of an attempted USF lay-up. Nunnally had four rebounds and a pair of assists.
Jaimé Serna played his best game of the young season. He made 6-of-7 shots from the field to score 13 points. He also had seven rebounds, one blocked shot and a steal. Will Brew, Jr., had five points, but he also had a game-high six assists in his starting point guard spot. Regular starter Justin Joyner, who had been out with a sprained ankle, made his first appearance since the 2007-08 season, playing two minutes.
"I thought Will was really good in the first half and second half," Williams said. "He plays with such great energy all the time and I thought he really charged us in the second half."
Williams expects Joyner to expand his minutes in the coming games.
"His ankle is not 100-percent," Williams said. "It's also a conditioning thing. He will play a little more on Saturday (at Loyola Marymount) and then more in our games next week."
The Gauchos will play their first road game of 2009-10 on Saturday, Nov. 28 when they travel to Loyola Marymount for a 7:30 p.m. game against the Lions.
Prior to the game against LMU, Gaucho fans are encouraged to attend the Gaucho Huddle - "L.A. Style!" For $20, fans will receive a ticket to the game as well as a pre-game reception at the Custom Hotel. For more information click here.
Following the game at Loyola Marymount, UCSB will return home for a pair of games. The Gauchos host Santa Clara on Tuesday, Dec. 1 and San Diego State on Saturday, Dec. 5. Both games will tip-off at 7:00 p.m.
Single game tickets and great deals on season tickets and Family Packs are still available. For more information click here.
To purchase tickets, please call (805) 893-UCSB, visit the Ticket Office located inside the Intercollegiate Athletics building on campus or click here.
The Intercollegiate Athletics Ticket Office now has two parking spaces adjacent to the building and is now open on Saturdays, making it easier than ever for fans to purchase tickets. The ICA Ticket Office will be open from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm on Saturdays. The two parking spots, designated specifically for the ticket office, are already available during weekday hours, which are 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.