December 18, 2009

Gauchos Go Ice Cold, Lose at Montana State, 76-64

Dec. 18, 2009

Box Score

BOZEMAN, Mont. - The temperature outside of Montana State's Worthington Arena was well below freezing on Friday night. Inside, after a hot start, visiting UC Santa Barbara itself went ice cold in a 76-64 loss to the Bobcats. The loss was UCSB's third in a row.

The Gauchos (4-3), who started the game by making 7-of-13 their field goal attempts, took a 23-16 lead over the Bobcats (6-4) on a free throw by Will Brew with 7:18 to play in the first half.

But that's when the struggles began. UCSB was outscored 18-6 and trailed 34-29 at halftime. After the solid start, the Gauchos made just 5-of-16 shots to end the half.

The start of the second half was all Bobcat forward Branden Johnson.

Montana State's senior converted a four-point play and a three-pointer in the first 3:40 of the second. He then made a third three-pointer at the 15:11 mark and at that point he had outscored UCSB 10-3 to open the second half, givng his team a 44-32 lead.

"They (Montana State) really came out shooting in the ball in the second half," said UCSB head coach Bob Williams. "I thought we did a nice job on them for most of the first half, but we gave them some open looks in the second and they took advantage. Their big guys can really shoot and they showed it tonight."

Branden Johnson's 10-point spurt helped the Bobcats sandwich halftime with a 22-7 run. As the Bobcat offense heated up, the Gauchos continued to struggle. Montana State held UCSB to 34% shooting in the game's final 32 minutes, and limited leading scorer Orlando Johnson to 12 points. In fact, after Orlando Johnson scored his team's first seven and then didn't score again until late in the game.

After Branden Johnson's third three-pointer in the second half, the Gauchos chipped away at the Bobcat's lead. A three-pointer by Sam Phippen followed by a tip-in and a layup by James Nunnally drew UCSB within five. But the Bobcats' Johnson answered with a three-pointer 16 seconds later to stem the tide, and Erik Rush scored six points in a 13-5 run as Montana State seized control of the game.

Nunnally came off the bench to lead the Gauchos with 13 points. He made 6-of-10 shots and added six rebounds. Orlando Johnson was next with 12 points. Serna had nine points and nine rebounds and James Powell added nine points on three three-point baskets. Freshman Lucas Devenny had seven points and a career-high five rebounds.

Montana State's Erik Rush led all players with 17 points, Branden Johnson posted a double-double with 15 points and 10 boards, and Danny Piepoli came within a point of his career-high by scoring 14 points with two assists to lead MSU.

Montana State shot 52% in the second half, limiting UCSB to 38%. The Gauchos also had their problems from the free throw line, making just 11-of-22, 50%.

UCSB will return to action on Monday, Dec. 21 when it travels to Arizona State for a 5:30 p.m. (PST) game against the Sun Devils.

All men's basketball games are broadcast live on AM 1490 KIST and available for free online via audio streaming. Fans from all over the world can also hear the Gauchos' online by clicking here.

While the Gauchos will remain on the road for the next five games, they will return home on Friday, Jan. 8, 2010, for an 8:00 p.m. game against UC Davis. Tickets for that game and all UCSB men's and women's basketball games are available. 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.