March 9, 2009
To view the video of Nunnally's game-winning shot vs. Long Beach State, click here
Video courtesy of Jon Dickstein
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - UC Santa Barbara freshman forward James Nunnally was named Big West Player of the Week after leading the Gauchos to a pair of wins last week, sending them into the league tournament as the fourth-seed. Nunnally's three-point basket at the buzzer on Saturday night against Long Beach State was the difference between UCSB receiving bye into the quarterfinals of the tournament or playing in the first round.
"James has really grown and progressed as a player over the last couple of months," commented head coach Bob Williams. "I was very impressed with his poise and desire to take big shots in recent games, especially against Long Beach. He has a bright, bright future."
In the win over the 49ers, Nunnally scored 20 points, grabbed four rebounds, had three assists, and two steals. He scored 17 of his 20 points in the second half and 15 in the final 6:34 as the Gauchos overcame an eight-point deficit. In addition to the game winning three-pointer, he tied the score on a floating lay-up with just over seven seconds remaining in the game. After a pair of free throws gave Long Beach a 75-73 lead, Nunnally took a handoff from Will Brew, Jr., and made the game-winner.
The victory over Long Beach, combined with UC Irvine's win over Cal State Fullerton, pulled the Gauchos into a fourth-place tie with the Anteaters and UC Riverside. Because of tiebreakers, UCSB earned the No. 4 seed while UCI is seeded fifth and UCR is sixth. The fourth seed receives a bye into the quarterfinals of the Big West Tournament while seeds 5-8 will play first round games on Wednesday night.
On Thursday night, in a 66-63 win over UC Riverside, the San Jose, Calif., native had 15 points, four rebounds, four assists, and one steal. He made all three of his three-point attempts and was 5-of-7 overall in the game.
In the two games combined, Nunnally averaged 17.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. He made 11-of-17 shots from the field, 64.7%, 6-for-9 from three-point range, 66.7%, and 7-of-8 from the free throw line, 87.5%.
For the year, Nunnally is averaging 7.6 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 1.1 assists per game. In the last five games, he has upped his numbers to 14.2 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 2.6 assists. Also, while he is shooting 45.6% overall for the season, he has made 58.9% of his shots in the last five.
Nunnally joins Chris Devine as the only UCSB players to earn the Big West Player of the Week award this season. Devine has won it two times, back-to-back weeks, on Feb. 16 and Feb. 23.
UCSB, winners of seven out of its last eight games, will play in the quarterfinals of the Big West Tournament on Thursday night at the Anaheim Convention Center. The Gauchos will take on the highest remaining seed from the first round games on Wednesday night. Tickets remain available for the tournament and can be purchased from the Ticket Office in the Intercollegiate Athletics Building on campus or by calling 805-893-UCSB.