UCSB Edges UC Irvine In A Thriller, Hosts Long Beach State To End Regular Season
March 5, 2004
Game No. 27
Saturday, March 6, 2004 at 7:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. Long Beach State 49ers
at UCSB's Thunderdome (6,000)
Radio: KTLK 1340 AM
Game No. 28
Thursday, March 11, 2004 at TBA
Big West Tournament - Quarterfinals
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. TBA
at the Anaheim Convention Center
Radio: KTLK 1340 AM
UC Santa Barbara got back on the winning track Thursday night with a 56-55 win over visiting UC Irvine. The victory over the Anteaters gives the Gauchos an overall record of 15-11 and a conference mark of 9-8. UCSB moved into a tie for third-place with the Idaho. Since most of you will be reading these notes on Saturday night, the Vandals hosted Utah State last night and we will inform you of the result at the UCSB-Long Beach State game.
Win Over Anteaters Gives UCSB First-Round Bye
Thursday night's narrow win over UC Irvine improved UCSB's league record to 9-8 and it moved the Gauchos into a tie with Idaho for third-place. Whether Santa Barbara finishes in third or fourth, it has clinched a bye in the first round of the Big West Tournament. If Idaho loses on Friday night, the Gauchos can finish in third with a win. If Idaho wins, UCSB will finish fourth, win or lose against Long Beach State. If the Vandals lose on Friday and the Gauchos lose on Saturday, then Idaho would finish third.
Four Seniors Play Final Home Game, Five Say Good-bye
In Saturday night's home finale against Long Beach State, four UCSB seniors will play their final home game and a fifth will also be saluted. Guards Branduinn Fullove, Jacoby Atako and Nick Jones, and forward Bryan Whitehead will play their final home games. Forward Bray Skultety, who injured his knee on February 14 and will not play again this season will also be saluted. Skultety, who was in his sixth year, will actually be saluted for the second time. He was recognized as a senior last year as well. Fullove, Atako and Jones have been a cornerstone of two postseason teams for the Gauchos and they are among the all-time leaders in several career statistical categories.
Gauchos Use Strong Second Half, Fullove Three-Pointer To Edge UCI, 56-55
UCSB trailed UC Irvine at halftime Thursday night, 33-22. The Gauchos, however, opened the second half with an 11-0 run to tie the score at 33-33. The lead seesawed for the rest of the game, but a Branduinn Fullove three-point basket with 11 seconds to go and a defensive stop with five second remaining, gave Santa Barbara the final lead, 56-55. The Gauchos were paced by sophomore forward Cameron Goettsche, who had a game-high 16 points, 11 rebounds and three blocked shots in the win. He had 12 of his 16 points in the second half, including a pair of key three-pointers and two momentum-swinging slam dunks. Fullove finished with a trio of three-point baskets and ten points. The 56 points were the fewest scored by UCSB in a win this season.
Possible Starters - Notes
G - Cecil Brown - Has averaged 12.0 points per game in the last three games.
G - Jacoby Atako - Has made seven three-point baskets in the last five games.
G - Branduinn Fullove - Has scored in double-figures in six straight games, a season-high.
F - Cameron Goettsche - Had second double-double of his career with 16 points, 11 rebounds vs. UCI.
F - Casey Cook - Has averaged 12.3 points in the last three games.
Possible Reserves - Notes
G - Nick Jones - Has played a total of 32 minutes in the last three games, scoring four points.
G - Joe See - Made a three-pointer vs. UCI on Thursday, his first in three games.
G - Josh Davis - Shooting 40.9% from three-point range and 40.6% from the free throw line.
G - Chrismen Oliver - Played 56 minutes in the last three games after playing 29 in the previous seven.
F - Bray Skultety - Reinjured his left knee in February 14 win over Cal Poly. Out for the season.
F - Bryan Whitehead - Has had three or more rebounds 22 times in 26 games.
F - Glenn Turner - Has hit his last five consecutive shots from the field.
F - David Kennedy - Has played in nine total games this season.
UCSB and Long Beach State have played 93 times with the 49ers holding a 44-49 advantage. In the Big West opener this season, on January 3, Long Beach came from 21 behind in the final 15 minutes to beat UCSB 63-62. The last time the teams met in Santa Barbara, February 27, 2003, the Gauchos posted a 70-46 win.
UCSB At Home
On February 19, UCSB had its five-game home winning streak snapped in a 61-58 loss to Pacific. The Gauchos returned to their winning ways on Thursday night with their win over UC Irvine. Santa Barbara is now 9-2 at the Thunderdome this season. In addition to the loss to Pacific, UCSB dropped a 74-67 game to Utah State. The wins have come against Pepperdine, Westmont, San Diego, Idaho, Cal State Northridge, UC Riverside, Cal State Fullerton, Cal Poly and UC Irvine. A win over Long Beach State in the regular season home finale would give the Gauchos a 10-2 record at the Thunderdome for the third year in a row. Last year, UCSB posted a 10-2 record at the Thunderdome. In 2001-02, the Gauchos also posted a 10-2 home record. The 10-2 mark that Santa Barbara has recorded each of the past two seasons is the best home mark for the program since the 1989-90 team went 11-2. Dating back to the end of the 2000-01 season, the Gauchos have gone 31-6 at home over the last 37 games.
The Williams File
Bob Williams is in his sixth season as the head coach at UC Santa Barbara. Last year, he guided the Gauchos to an 18-14 overall record and a 14-4 mark in Big West Conference play. The Big West mark earned Santa Barbara its first-ever regular season championship along with a postseason trip to the National Invitation Tournament. In addition, the success earned Williams his second Big West Coach of the Year award, his first coming after an impressive 1999 campaign. In 2001-02, Williams led UCSB to its first Big West Conference Tournament Championship ever and first NCAA Tournament appearance in 12 years. In his five-plus seasons in Santa Barbara, Williams' teams have posted an 95-76 overall record and a 64-34 record in Big West games. Prior to his arrival at UCSB, he spent eight years at UC Davis and in those eight years, his teams recorded 20 or more wins five times and a 158-76 record. In Williams' final season, the Aggies went 31-2, won the NCAA Division II National Championship and he was named NABC Division II Coach of the Year. Including two seasons at Menlo College, Williams has a record of 284-176 at four-year schools.
Skultety Re-injures Left Knee
Senior forward Bray Skultety re-injured his left knee in the second half of UCSB's February 14 game against Cal Poly. Skultety, who sat out the 2002-03 season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in the left knee, has suffered the same injury and will be lost to the team for the remainder of the 2003-04 season. The 6-foot-6 Skultety was granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA to take part in this season. He also missed the 1999-2000 season with an eye injury. When he was injured, Skultety had played in 21 games this season with averages of 3.5 points and 4.0 rebounds per game. He accumulated his stats despite playing just 12.1 minutes per outing.
The Underclass Makes Its Mark
Entering the 2003-04 season, it would have been easy to assume that UCSB would be dominated by its seniors. The Gauchos were expected to start four seniors and a fifth was expected to play a key role off the bench. Well, as the season winds down, the seniors are still making some key contributions, but it is the underclassmen who are fueling things. While senior Branduinn Fullove leads the team in scoring at 10.9 points per game, the next four spots are filled by one junior and three sophomores. On Thursday night, sophomore forward Cameron Goettsche record the second double-double of his career, leading the team in both scoring (16 points) and rebounds (11). In all, 38 of UCSB's 56 points in the win over UC Irvine were scored by non-seniors. In fact, in each of the last three games, a sophomore has led the Gauchos in scoring. Last Saturday, guard Cecil Brown had a career-high 17 and in a double-overtime win over Cal State Fullerton on February 26, it was a career-high 18 by Goettsche that led the way. On the year, the non-seniors have scored 1,033 of the Gauchos' 1,700 points, 60.8%.
Balance Of Power
Senior guard Branduinn Fullove leads UCSB in scoring at 10.9 points per game. Junior forward Casey Cook has scored 230 points in 23 games and you don't need a calculator to figure out that equals 10.0 points per game. Fullove's recent surge of six straight double-figure scoring efforts has put him solidly into double-figure territory. He will, however, need an even more impressive surge to edge past the magic 11.2 points per game mark. Why is 11.2 a magic mark? Well, it isn't really magical, but in 1993-94, former UCSB center Doug Muse led the team in scoring at 11.2 points per game, the lowest team-leading average in school history. In 2002-03, UCSB had three players who averaged 12.4 points per game or more. While UCSB has just two players averaging in double-figures, it does have seven players averaging 6.0 or more points per game and ten players averaging 3.5 or more per game. By contrast, last year's team had three players at or over 12.4 points per game, but nobody else on the team averaged more than 5.2 per outing.
Take Me To Your Leader(s)
Along with the scoring balance has come several scoring leaders. Cameron Goettsche paced the way in Thursday's win over UC Irvine. The Gauchos have had seven different players lead the team in scoring this season and six of those players have led the way at least twice. Branduinn Fullove, Casey Cook, Cameron Goettsche, Cecil Brown, Joe See, Jacoby Atako and Nick Jones have led the way in scoring and only Atako has led just once. Last season, in 32 games, UCSB had four players lead the team in scoring and one of those, Brown, led one time.
UCSB Snaps Rebounding Slump
For much of the season, UCSB was one of the top rebounding teams in the Big West Conference. Through 18 games overall, nine of which were Big West games, the Gauchos had outrebounded 14 opponents. Entering Thursday's game against UC Irvine, however, Santa Barbara had been outrebounded in four straight games and six out of seven. The four-game stretch of rebounding deficits came, no coincidentally, after the season-ending knee injury to the team's best rebounder, Bray Skultety. Against the Anteaters, led by a Cameron Goettsche's career-high-tying 11, the Gauchos won the battle of the boards for the first time in five games, 36-30. In addition to Goettsche's 11 boards, Cecil Brown tied his season-high with five. UCSB still holds a +3.7 edge in rebounding for the season, but in the last eight games, including Thursday night, the Gauchos have been outrebounded by an average of -2.2 per game.
Holiday Declared! Gauchos Hit Free Throws!
From small acorns grow giant oaks. Something like that. Either way, UCSB made 75.0% of its free throws in Thursday night's win over UC Irvine, hitting 15-of-20. Most impressively, after missing their first three, the Gauchos made 15-of-17, 88.2%, over the final 30 minutes. You know things were going well when Glenn Turner, who had missed his first seven attempts on the season, makes his first. The 75.0% was UCSB's highest percentage in six games. In fact, the Gauchos have now made 70.0% or better in three straight games, their longest streak of 70.0% or better since they opened Big West play with four straight games above the mark. On the year, Santa Barbara is now making 65.3% overall and 66.8% in Big West games.
Close Calls Become The Norm
Close games are becoming the norm for UCSB. The Gauchos' one-point win over UC Irvine on Thursday was the third straight game and the fourth in the last five decided by three points or less. UCSB is 2-2 in those four game, defeating Cal State Fullerton (98-95) in double-overtime as well as the Anteaters (56-55). The Gauchos lost to Pacific (61-58) and UC Riverside (63-60) in the last four. On the year, UCSB has played eight games decided by three or fewer points, going 4-4 in those eight. The Gauchos are 2-1 in games decided by three or fewer points at home. Narrowing it down even further, UCSB is 2-1 in games decided by exactly one point. The Gauchos have defeated UCLA (61-60) and UC Irvine (56-55), while losing at Long Beach State (63-62).
UCSB has had seven regular players miss at least one game this season due to suspension (Nick Jones), injuries (Branduinn Fullove, Casey Cook, Cecil Brown, Bray Skultety and Glenn Turner) or illness (Josh Davis).
Senior guard Branduinn Fullove has seized the team-lead in scoring at 10.9 points per game. Fullove has scored in double-figures in six straight games, his longest such streak of the season. In the last six, he has averaged 13.2 points per game. In the last six games, he has made 23-of-47 shots from the field, 48.9%, and 8-of-19 from three-point range, 42.1%. Since scoring one point in a January 24 loss at Pacific, Fullove has played ten games and averaged 12.3 points per game and made 46.0% of his field goal attempts. Also, after struggling to get to the free throw line for much of the season, he has gone to the line 34 times in the last five games, easily his highest five-game total of the season. Fullove has now made 20 three-point baskets on the season. Not only did he make a season-high three three-point baskets on Thursday night, it was his three-pointer with 11 seconds left that gave the Gauchos their winning margin. Fullove enters Saturday's game against Long Beach State with a career total of 1,395 points, a figure that ranks him sixth on UCSB's all-time list. He needs five points to pass York Gross and move into fifth-place all-time. Fullove had a season-high six assists last on February 26 at Cal State Fullerton and has had two or more in nine of the last 11 games. He has a career total of 269 assists, ninth in school history. Fullove has made a career total of 159 three-point baskets, fifth on UCSB's all-time list. He needs four to move into fourth all-time. He scored a season-high 23 points on December 21 in a win over Alabama State.
Junior forward Casey Cook is second on the team in scoring at exactly 10.0 points per game. He has scored eight or more points in each of the last seven games, scoring in double-figures three times in that span. When he had eight points on Thursday night against UC Irvine, it snapped a streak of two consecutive double-figure outings for Cook, his first back-to-back double-figure games since the start of league. Not since December 17 and 20 against UCLA and Kansas had he scored ten or more in consecutive games. Cook is slowly but surely returning to the form he showed before tearing a right quadriceps muscle and sitting-out three games. After playing fewer than 20 minutes in the first four games after his return, he has played 21 or more in each of the last six games, going for 30 or more twice, including Thursday night. In the last six games, Cook has averaged 26.7 minutes, 10.3 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. In his first four games back, he averaged 16.6 minutes, 7.0 points and 4.2 rebounds per game. He has now played 25 or more in five straight. In addition to ranking second on the team in scoring, Cook also ranks second in rebounding at 4.8 per game. Although he made just 1-of-6 field goal attempts against UC Irvine, he is still tied for the team-lead in field goal percentage among regulars at 49.4%. Also, like last season, Cook is surging from the free throw line as the season winds to an end. He made all six of his attempts on Thursday and he has now made 17 in a row over the last three games. In fact, in the last three he is 17-of-18, 94.4%, and in the last five he has 22-of-24, 91.7%. Cook has scored in double-figures 11 times this year, nine times on the road. He has scored a career-high 16 points three times this season, once each against Hawaii, Kansas and Southeast Missouri State. In the game at Hawaii, he also collected a career-high 12 rebounds in posting the first double-double of his career.
Senior guard Nick Jones continued his struggles on Thursday night. He played 11 minutes, hit 1-of-4 from the field overall, missing both of his three-point attempts, and scoring four points. In the last three games, Jones has played a total of just 32 minutes and scored just four points. He is now averaging 6.2 points per game on the season, shooting 35.5% from the field and 31.7% from three-point territory. Jones had gone scoreless in the previous two games, marking the first time in his four years that he had failed to score a point in consecutive games. While he has played a total of 32 minutes in the last three games, Jones played 3 minutes or more 12 times during his junior season. He has yet to play more than 35 minutes in a game this season. In his last ten games, he has scored ten or more once and he has averaged 3.9 points per game. He has been scoreless three times in the last ten. Jones missed the first eight games of the year as he served a suspension for competing in a summer league in Mexico that was not sanctioned by the NCAA. He tallied 12 points in his first game back, December 21 against Alabama State, but has done so just three times since. Notoriously one of the best two-point shooters on the Gaucho roster, his problems from inside the three-point arc have been particularly acute in recent games. Jones has hit just 8-of-29 two-point shots in the last nine games, 27.6%. Overall, he has really had his offensive problems in home games. All four of his double-figure efforts have come on the road and he has scored just 28 points in his eight home games, 3.5 per game. He has made just 9-of-37 field goal attempts at the Thunderdome, 24.3%. Despite his struggles, Jones has now scored 1,086 career points, 17th in school history.
While he scored just four points on Thursday, sophomore guard Cecil Brown tied his season-high with five rebounds and he had a pair of assists in the win over UC Irvine. Brown is now fourth on the team in scoring at 7.9 points per game. Prior to Thursday, he had scored 15 or more in consecutive games, going for a career-high 17 on February 26 at Cal State Fullerton and then 15 a week ago at UC Riverside. The game at Riverside marked the first time this season that UCSB had lost a game in which Brown scored ten or more points. He is emerging as one of the most consistent players on the team. Although he continues to nurse a sore left ankle, Brown has played 23 or more minutes in each of the last three games, including a career-high 44 in the double-overtime win at Cal State Fullerton. He ranks second on the team with 24 three-point baskets and in two games prior to Thursday night, he had made a total of seven. He has scored in double-figures ten times, including three times in the last six games. Finally, while much of the rest of the team has had its problems with turnovers, Brown has been one of the team's most sure-handed players. He has 26 turnovers in 564 minutes, one every 21.7 minutes of action.
Senior guard Jacoby Atako scored just three points in Thursday night's win over UC Irvine, but it was his three-point basket that opened the second half and propelled the Gauchos on a 11-0 game-tying run that set the table for the last-second heroics of Branduinn Fullove. Atako is playing some of his best basketball of the season over the last five games. The senior, who returned to the starting lineup against the Anteaters, is averaging 6.0 points , 2.4 assists, 2.4 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game overall, but in the last five games, he is averaging 8.6 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.6 steals per game. In addition, while he is shooting a career-best 47.1% from the field and 42.0% from beyond the three-point arc, Atako has made 14-of-26 overall, 53.6%, and 7-of-14 from three-point distance, 50.0%, in the last five. With three assists on Thursday, he now has a career total of 373 assists and 126 steals, figures that rank him seventh and third on UCSB's all-time lists. Atako needs three assists to pass Brian Shaw and move into sixth-place all-time.
After going scoreless last Saturday at UC Riverside, sophomore guard Joe See scored five points, including his first three-point basket in three games, as UCSB beat UC Irvine on Thursday. In addition, it was See who assisted on Fullove's game-winning three-point basket. Interestingly, while he is the Gauchos' top three-point specialist, See has had outstanding assists on two thrilling game-winning three-pointers by other UCSB players this year. In addition to his assist of Fullove's triple on Thursday, he also assisted on Casey Cook's game-winning three-pointer with less than a second remaining against Pepperdine in December. See is averaging 7.4 points per game, fifth on the team, and his 43 three-point baskets are first on the team, 19 more than Cecil Brown. See has made at least one three-point basket in 20 of 26 games. In fact, he has hit two or more three-pointers 12 times, three or more seven times and a carer-high five twice, against Cal State Fullerton and Utah State. When he nailed five three-pointers against Cal State Fullerton on January 31, he scored a career-high 21 points. On February 14 against Cal Poly, See logged a career-high seven assists.
Despite playing with a fractured left thumb, Cameron Goettsche had his best game of the season on Thursday night against UC Irvine. Goettsche posted his second double-double of the year with a game-high 16 points and 11 rebounds. The 11 rebounds tied his career-high and the 16 points was his third-highest mark of the year. He also had a double-double on February 14 against Cal Poly, going for 12 points and 11 rebounds. On February 26, in the double-overtime win over Cal State Fullerton, Goettsche had a career-high 18 points. He is now third on the team in scoring at 8.3 points per game and he leads the Gauchos in rebounding at 5.6 per outing. Goettsche also tied his career-high with a pair of three-pointers against UCI and he set a personal best with three blocked shots. After going without a three-point bucket in 16 straight games, he has now hit three in the last three games. Goettsche paces the team with 13 blocked shots and he is second with 24 steals. Goettsche has now scored in double-figures 11 times this year, including ten times in 17 Big West games. He is shooting 53.9% in league play and since he opened the season by making 10-of-31 shots through four games, Goettsche has made 69-of-129, 53.5%, over the last 23 contests..
Sophomore guard Josh Davis had a nice outing off the bench on Thursday night. He played ten minutes and had four points, three rebounds and three assists. Davis was 2-for-3 from the field and in the last three games he has made 7-of-13 shots, 53.8%. He also has seven rebounds in just 21 minutes over the last two games. In UCSB's February 26 double-overtime win over Cal State Fullerton, Davis came off the bench to score 12 points, hitting 5-of-7 shots, before fouling out. His 12-point total at Fullerton was his second-highest total of the season (he had 13 at UCLA) and the third-best total of his career. One area where Davis continues to struggle is from the free throw line. On Thursday he missed both of his attempts and is now 13-of-32, 40.6%. Davis is actually shooting better from three-point range, 40.9%, than from the free throw line.
Senior forward Bryan Whitehead is averaging 3.7 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. He has scored a total of just four points in the last four games, a span of 61 minutes. He is third on the team in rebounding and he has had three or more rebounds in 23 of 26 games. Whitehead had a season-high nine rebounds on January 29 against UC Riverside. Whitehead is one of two UCSB regulars to have more rebounds (118) than points (97).
Senior forward Bray Skultety suffered an injury to his left knee in a February 14 win over Cal Poly. He will miss the remainder of the season. He is one of the team's emotional leaders and statistically, he was the team's best rebounder, averaging 4.0 per game in just 12.1 minutes per outing. In addition, he was averaging 3.5 points per game and shooting 54.7% from the field, including 58.0% in his last 19 games.
Sophomore forward Glenn Turner has become a regular in UCSB's rotation. He played four minutes on Thursday night, scoring one point, on his first successful free throw attempt this season. Turner did not attempt a field goal. He has made his last five field goals in a row and is now shooting 60.0% on the year. In his last ten games, a span that totals 65 minutes, Turner has had five blocked shots and 20 rebounds.
After playing a total of 61 minutes in the first 14 Big West games an average of 4.4 per game, junior guard Chrismen Oliver played 52 in the last three, an average of 17.3 per game. Last Saturday at UC Riverside, he made the first start of his career. Oliver came off the bench on Thursday against UC Irvine, but he played nine minutes. Although he went without a three-pointer against the Anteaters, he has still made at least one in three of the last four games.