December 29, 2007

UCSB Does it With Defense in 58-51 Win at Eastern Washington

Dec. 29, 2007

Box Score

CHENEY, Wash. - UC Santa Barbara turned to an old friend in Saturday night's 58-51 win at Eastern Washington. The old friend, defense, didn't let UCSB down as it improved to 11-2 to complete the non-conference schedule.

The Gauchos struggled all night on the offensive end, but held the Eagles (6-9) to 32.2% shooting overall and 27.6% in the second half en route to their ninth win in the last 10 games.

Senior guard Alex Harris scored 18 points, and senior forward Ivan Elliott added 11 points and a season-high nine rebounds to pace the Gauchos. Forward Kellen Williams paced Eastern Washington with 23 points and 10 rebounds, while Trey Gross added 11 points, including a pair of three-pointers late in the second half that made the game close.

UCSB, which had been on fire from beyond the three-point line, made a season-low 3-for-15 from outside the arc on Saturday night, 20.0%. Harris made two of the three but he needed five attempts to do so. One of his three-pointers came with 6:16 to play in the game and it extended the Gaucho lead to nine, 52-43.

After Harris' final three-pointer, the Eagles never got closer than 54-50. The Gauchos made four of six free throws in the final 3:24 to put the game away.

Santa Barbara finished the game at 47.8% from the field overall, but in addition to struggling from three-point range, also struggled at the free throw line, hitting just 11-of-19, 57.9%. The Gauchos and Eagles each finished with 16 turnovers, but UCSB had just five in the second half while Eastern Washington had 11.

"This was one of those games where we just had to slug it out," said Gaucho head coach Bob Williams. "It wasn't pretty, but to come up here and get a win was good. We can now go into league play with a little momentum, but we also realize we have a lot of work to do."

UCSB will open Big West play on Thursday, Jan. 3, when it hosts the defending conference champion, Long Beach State, in a 7:00 p.m. game.