Men's Basketball Plays UCLA Down To Wire, Losing 83-77

Men's Basketball Plays UCLA Down To Wire, Losing 83-77
A depleted UC Santa Barbara basketball team, playing without starting center Adama Ndiaye (broken finger) and top reserve guard Branduinn Fullove (sprained ankle), gave UCLA all it could handle on Wednesday night, leading by as many as four points in the second half, before losing on the road at Pauley Pavilion, 83-77.

The game did not start out well for the Gauchos as Bruin center Dan Gadzuric won the opening tap, directing the ball to point guard Earl Watson who hit guard Ray Young with a lob for a slam dunk, four seconds into the game. Twenty-three seconds later, it was Gadzuric's turn to throw one down as he gave the Bruins a 4-0 lead less than half a minute into the contest.

Gadzuric and the Bruins continued to roll early, and when sophomore forward Jason Kapono hit a short follow with 12:47 to go in the first half, they held an 11-point advantage at 21-10. But that's when things got interesting.

Freshman guard Jacoby Atako hit a 23-footer to narrow the margin to 21-13 with 12:16 remaining in the half. Another freshman guard, Nick Jones, followed Atako's three-pointer, with a short bank-shot. He was fouled on the shot and made the free throw to cut the Bruin lead to 21-16. Kapono got three back on a 22-footer to make it 24-16 at the 11:11 mark. Then, it was UCSB sophomore Mark Hull who took over.

With 10:22 to go, Hull drained a three-pointer from 21-feet out. After a Gadzuric lay-up, Hull spotted up again, this time from 22-feet on the left side and once more he canned a three-pointer, making the score 26-22 UCLA. The Bruins responded with a Billy Knight three-point bucket, making it 29-22, but Hull wasn't finished. With 8:40 to go, he hit another 22-footer and it was 29-25. The third three Hull gave him a trio of threes in less than two minutes.

UCSB forward Mike Vukovich hit a lay-up at the 8:12 mark, narrowing the UCLA lead to 29-27. The teams went scoreless for the next couple of minutes and then with 5:40 left, Young was fouled by Hull and he hit both free throws to make it 31-27. At that point, the Gauchos outscored the Bruins 6-0 to claim their first lead of the game. Vukovich hit Jones on a back-door lay-in, Jordani hit a 15-foot jumper and then Jones drilled a 17-footer to make it 33-31 UCSB. The Gauchos completed the first half with a three-point lead at 41-38.

The first 14 minutes of the second half were a see-saw affair with ten lead changes and five ties. Hull made two more three-point baskets over that span, guard LaRon Bryant made a pair and Atako hit one. The Gauchos had their final lead at 64-63 with 9:34 remaining in the game and at that point, UCLA went on a 19-7 run to take a commanding 82-71 lead with 26 seconds to go. UCSB used pressure defense a couple three-pointers in the final seconds to narrow the score to 83-77 as time ran out.

Hull finished the game with a career-high 23 points on 9-of-12 shooting, including 5-of-6 from three-point range. It was the second straight game in which the sophomore out of Hoover High School in Glendale scored a career-high. Jones added a career-best ten of his own and Jordani also tallied ten. UCSB received several other solid performances. The point guard combination of B.J. Ward and Jacoby Atako finished with six and eight points respectively. Ward and Atako each added six assists and combined, they had 12 assists and only two turnovers. Freshman forward Casey Cook had six points and five rebounds and Vukovich had eight points before fouling out for the fourth consecutive game. UCLA was led by Kapono who finished with 24 points. Gadzuric, who had 17 points in the first half, finished with 21 before fouling out.

The Gauchos are now 0-4 on the season. They return home on Saturday for a 7:00 p.m. game at the Thunderdome against Westmont College. The game will mark the beginning of a three-game homestand for UCSB. On Wednesday, December 6, they will host San Diego State at 7:00 p.m. and then on Saturday, December 9, they take on the USC Trojans in a 7:00 p.m. game.