Nov. 24, 2007
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Alex Harris scored 29 points and James Powell added 15 to lead UC Santa Barbara to a 76-61 men's basketball win over Montana State on Saturday night. The duo combined for 33 points in the second half to break open a 30-30 tie and send UCSB to its third straight win.
The Gauchos (5-1) led 55-53 with 8:58 to play, but outscored the Bobcats (2-3) 21-8 the rest of the way. Powell started the game-ending run with a three-pointer and finished with 13 points in the second half. Harris scored UCSB's first 14 points of the second half, including eight from the free throw line, to help the Gauchos break the 30-30 halftime tie. In all, the senior guard had 20 points in the second half.
"At the start of the second half, Alex kind of put us on his back and carried us," said UCSB head coach Bob Williams. "I think it became contagious because then other guys started getting involved. James (Powell) made some clutch shots, Nedim (Pajevic) hit some of those high-arch jumpers and made some great passes, and Ivan (Elliott) hit a big three-pointer. We really needed to gut this one out."
UCSB played the game without Chris Devine, its second leading scorer, who was attending the funeral of a close friend in his native Alaska.
Pajevic finished with 12 points, five rebounds and three assists, while Elliott added 11 points, including 3-of-4 from beyond the three-point arc, seven rebounds and a pair of blocked shots. Harris had a team-high eight rebounds and made 15-of-18 free throw attempts, all in the second half.
UCSB forced Montana State into 21 turnovers, including 12 in the second half. The Gauchos had 10, just three after halftime. While Santa Barbara was outrebounded 38-30, it outshot the Bobcats 41.8% to 37.5%.
Divaldo Mbunga had 17 ponts and nine rebounds for the Bobcats and he gave Montana State its final lead of the game, 29-27, on a lay-up with 42 second to play in the first half. Phil Friesen, a native of nearby Goleta, Calif., scored 16 points for the Bobcats.
UCSB will continue its homestand on Tuesday, Nov. 27, when it hosts UNLV in a 7:00 p.m. game at the Thunderdome. The Gauchos and Runnin' Rebels have not played at the Thunderdome since UNLV left the Big West Conference in 1996.