Dec. 6, 2006
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Chris Devine scored 19 points, Alex Harris added 18 and UC Santa Barbara used a stifling defense to limit previously unbeaten Fresno State to 28.3% shooting and just 42 points, as the Gauchos won their second straight game, 70-42.
Fresno State (7-1) led by as many as four points early, but when senior Cecil Brown made a fall-away jumper with 9:26 left in the first half, UCSB (6-2) had the lead for good. Bulldog forward Hector Hernandez, who scored 13 points and tied for team-high scoring honors with guard Ja'Vance Coleman, made one of his three three-point shots with 2:07 remaining to whittle a six-point Gaucho lead to three, 27-24. However a pair of free throws by Devine and two free throws and three-point basket by Harris helped UCSB to close the half on a 7-0 run, giving it a 34-24 halftime cushion.
The Gauchos began the second half the same way they ended the first half. Forward Ivan Elliott scored on a put-back and a lay-up, and Devine made a baseline jumper to expand the lead to 16, 40-24, with 16:06 to go in the game. After Dominic McGuire made a short jumper and Quinton Hosley made a lay-up to narrow the gap to 40-28, UCSB went on a 19-4 run over the next five minutes to take a commanding 59-32 lead with 9:18 to go on the game. Fresno State never pulled closer than 21 the rest of the way. Santa Barbara's biggest lead of 30 points (68-38) came with 2:42 left.
"I thought our defense was the best it's been all year," said UCSB head coach Bob Williams. "We went into the game with a plan and the guys stuck with it. I actually thought offensively that we weren't that good, but as a team we put forth a great defensive effort."
Fresno State entered Wednesday's game averaging 80.3 points per game. The Bulldogs had not scored fewer than 73 points in any game this season. The 42 points and 28.3% field goal shooting were the best defensive efforts of the year for the Gauchos. In addition, UCSB, which has struggled with its rebounding all season, won the battle of the boards, 44-40.
Harris had a season-high eight rebounds to go with his 18 points. Freshman guard Justin Joyner finished with five points, but he also added seven rebounds, four assists and a steal. UCSB's other freshman guard, James Powell, missed all four of his field goal attempts, but finished with a career-high six assists. Elliott and Devine each contributed six rebounds.
"We have some time off for final exams now," Williams began, "and its good to go into that time on a win. We beat a very good team tonight and their were a lot of things we can build on."
After taking the next 10 days off for finals, the Gauchos will return to action on Sunday, Dec. 17, when they travel to the University of San Francisco for a 2:00 p.m. game. UCSB will return home on Tuesday, Dec. 19 for a 7:00 p.m. game against Vanguard University.