December 30, 2006

Gauchos Top Cal State Fullerton in Early-Season Big West Showdown, 84-76

Dec. 30, 2006

Box Score

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Chris Devine scored 25 points and Alex Harris added 16 Saturday night to lead UC Santa Barbara to a 84-76 Big West Conference victory over Cal State Fullerton.

The Gauchos improved to 10-3 overall and 2-0 in the Big West. The Titans got 25 points from Scott Cutley but fell to 10-3 and 1-1 and saw their 5-game winning streak ended.

Alex Harris scored 16 points and Ivan Elliott had 13 and each had 9 rebounds for the Gauchos. UCSB freshman point guard Justin Joyner also had a career-high 10 assists. Frank Robinson had 13 points and Justin Burns added 12 for the Titans, who had beaten the Gauchos five times in a row.

UCSB jumped out to an early 20-11 lead and held the advantage for all but a few seconds of the game, twice by 17 points. Fullerton caught up at 53-53 with 10:09 to play on a Marcus Crenshaw 3-pointer, but Devine hit a bucket and Cecil Brown made a 3-point play to trigger a 14-4 Gauchos' run and the Titans could get no closer than 6 points the rest of the game despite UCSB missing several free throws in the final two minutes.

Bobby Brown had one of his poorest shooting nights as a Titan, making only 2 of 12 3-point tries and 4 of 17 overall on his way to 10 points. As a team, Fullerton, which was averaging 11.6 3-pointers made during its 5-game win streak, made only 5 of 20 and three of those came in desperation in the final minutes.

"This was one of the best efforts we've had this season," commented UCSB head coach Bob Williams. "That was a good team that we beat tonight. I thought we did a very good job on the defensive end. We stayed in a 2-3 zone for much of the time and for the most part I thought it was effective. Fullerton is a very well coached team and will win a lot of games this year and that makes this win even better."

"Santa Barbara did a terrific job of defending us," said Fullerton head coach Bob Burton. "They made sure Bobby Brown didn't get good shots. It showed our other kids that they have to step up and make shots. No one has defended us to that extent."

UCSB scored almost at will inside in the early going, much as Cal Poly had done two nights earlier. Meanwhile, none of the Titans other than Cutley could make a basket until Ray Reed hit a jumper with 8:25 to go in the first half.

The 10-3 start for the Gauchos the best since they opened the 1988-89 season with a 12-1 record through 13 games. The win was also UCSB's fourth straight at home after it began the season 1-2 at the Thunderdome.

Santa Barbara will resume action on Thursday, Jan. 4, when it travels to Long Beach State for a 7:00 p.m. Big West game game at the Pyramid.

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