Dec. 5, 2007
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Alex Harris scored 22 points and UC Santa Barbara's defense forced Pepperdine into 25 turnovers and just 28.0% shooting in the first half, as the Gauchos won their sixth straight game, 68-57 on Wednesday night. The winning streak is the program's longest since the 1992-93 season.
The Waves (4-6) scored the first seven points of the game, but a 10-0 run put UCSB (8-1) in front for good. In fact, the Gauchos led by as many as 26 points on three occasions, the last coming at 60-34 with 9:11 to play. Pepperdine whittled the lead in the final minutes, but never pulled closer than the 11-point margin that ended the game.
After a slow start, Harris scored 13 of his points as the Gauchos outscored the Waves 32-12 in the final 17:30 of the first half to build an insurmountable 32-19 halftime lead.
Santa Barbara used a stifling defensive effort to pull away from Pepperdine. The Gauchos forced 14 turnovers in the first half and 25 for the game, the second highest defensive total this season. They also had a season-high 16 steals, equaling the third most in school history.
"I thought we were very, very good defensively tonight," said UCSB head coach Bob Williams. "We got into the passing lanes, doubled aggressively and I our fly-bys were outstanding. We only got credit for three blocked shots, but I thought we got our hands on more than that. They (Pepperdine) shot a lot of air balls and we can take a lot of the credit for that."
James Powell made 2-of-3 from beyond the three-point line and finished with 13 points. Chris Devine, who finished with 10 points and a team-high seven rebounds, was one of three Gauchos with three steals, joining Justin Joyner and D.J. Posley. Joyner had a season-high six assists while Posley scored a career-high seven points. Ivan Elliott had eight points, five rebounds, three assists, two blocked shots and a steal. He also drew praise from Williams for his effort.
"Ivan was tremendous tonight," said Williams. "His numbers don't show just how good of a game he played. He was active, efficient and really set the tone for us defensively."
The Waves were led by Malcolm Thomas who had 13 points and a game-high nine rebounds. Daniel Johnson had 11 points. Pepperdine was held more than 26 points below its season average of 83.3 points per game.
At 8-1, UCSB has equaled its best start since 1992-93, when it also went 8-1. The Gauchos host Utah Valley State on Friday night at 7:00 p.m. in the Thunderdome. It will be their final home game of the 2007 calendar year. They will play their final three games of December on the road.