Dec. 28, 2004
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -
UC Santa Barbara used a stifling defense and a 23-5 spurt midway through the second half, to open Big West Conference play with a 54-47 win over visiting Long Beach State.
Senior forward Casey Cook paced the Gauchos (3-5 overall, 1-0 in Big West) with a game-high 15 points, but it was Long Beach's inability to make shots that ultimately decided the game. The 49ers (2-8 overall, 0-1 in Big West) shot just 30.0% for the game, hitting just 18-of-60 field goal attempts. They struggled even worse from three-point range, missing 17 of 18 for a dismal 9.1%.
UCSB led 23-18 at halftime, but allowed a 5-0 49er run to open the second half, tying the score at 23-23. A Josh Davis lay-up gave the Gauchos a 25-23 lead with 16:05 to go in the game, but Long Beach State tied it at 25-25 on a short jumper by Travon Free.
Davis used a steal and a breakaway slam dunk to again break the tie and give UCSB a 27-25 lead with 13:51 remaining. The basket by Davis also triggered Gaucho runs of 13-0 and 23-5 that pushed the lead to 48-30 with 4:50 left. Cook and reserve guard Michael Chambers each scored six points to lead the way during the rally. Cook's six points came on a series of nifty inside moves, while Chambers' came by way of two three-point baskets. Another reserve, freshman swingman Derek Rasp, tallied five, including a three-pointer, over the same span.
Long Beach State, however, did not quit. The 49ers took advantage of 24 offensive rebounds to cut into the UCSB lead. Shawn Hawkins nailed the only three-pointer of the game for Long Beach with 53 second to go, cutting the gap to 50-42. Following a Davis miss at the free throw line, LBSU's Jibril Hodges was fouled coming around a screen. Hodges made one of two free throws to make it 50-43 with 39 seconds left, but the lead never dropped below seven the rest of the way as UCSB made 4-of-6 free throws in the final half minute.
"I thought we did some good things, particularly at the defensive end," said UCSB head coach Bob Williams. "We still are not playing offense with a great deal of confidence, and I am concerned about the rebounding, but it was very nice to open conference play with a win. I also look at the box score and see that Casey (Cook) and Cameron (Goettsche) combined for 21 rebounds, and that's a good thing."
Goettsche, a junior forward, scored just four points in the game, but he led the Gauchos with 12 rebounds, four assists and a pair of blocked shots. Cook had nine rebounds and three assists to go with his 15 points. He was the only UCSB player to score in double-figures. Long Beach State was led by forward Cody Pearson who finished with 11 points. Travon Free had a game-high 19 rebounds to lead the 49ers who had a 49-31 rebounding edge.
Santa Barbara returns to action on Thursday, Dec. 30 AT 7:00 P.M., when it hosts UC Irvine in a Big West game. All fans who bring canned food, bottled water, or an article of clothing, will be admitted free. All items will go to aid the victims of this week's deadly tsunamis.