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Tuesday, December 11 , 2018, 9:52 pm | Fair 53º

 
 
 
 
Sports: A Noozhawk Partnership with Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table, The Lab, and American Riviera Bank
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Gauchos’ 2nd-Half Outburst Sends Montana State Packing

Alex Harris and James Powell put up the points to break a halftime tie and lead UCSB to a 76-61 win.

Tied at the half and playing flat, UCSB  needed its ace, senior guard Alex Harris, to step forward. He did — right to the free-throw line where he drilled 15 of his game high 29 points. Playing without inside presence Chris Devine, the Gauchos needed rebounds as well, and again Harris complied with eight. The effort led UCSB to a 76-61 victory over Montana State  on Saturday at the Thunderdome.

The Gauchos’ offense was largely dormant in the first half and the rugged Bobcats clawed to a 30-30 draw at intermission. But when play resumed, Harrris drew fouls, James Powell  got hot (15 points), Ivan Elliot  (11 points) splashed from the distance, and Nedim Pajevic  (12 points) produced from midrange to stretch out a lead. UCSB’s signature defense was stifling all night, forcing 21 turnovers. The Gauchos had only 10 turnovers, and just three in the second half.

Dos Pueblos grad Phil Friesen played superbly in his return home, scoring 16 for Montana State in 31 minutes of action. Divaldo Mbunga, a native of Angola led the Bobcats with 17 points and a near pin on a hapless Gaucho who was taken to the floor, and kept there, after a scramble for a loose ball. No foul was called but players and ultimate fighting fans all seemed more enthused from then on.

Next Up for the Gauchos

UCSB hosts UNLV at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Thunderdome. The Gauchos and Runnin’ Rebels have not played at the Thunderdome since UNLV left the Big West Conference in 1996. 

 

Montana State outrebounded the Gauchos 38-30, an edge the Bobcats have been enjoying against opponents all season. But the relentless UCSB defensive pressure did its magic, producing a host of offensive opportunities. Two breakaway slam-dunk efforts, born of that great defense, bounced out of the rim, but did not deflate the Gauchos’ effort.

UCSB is now 5-1 on the season and sporting a three-game winning streak. Devine, who was home in his native Alaska to attend the funeral of a close friend, is expected back for UCSB’s game against UNLV on Tuesday.

UCSB will continue its homestand on Tuesday, Nov. 27, when it hosts UNLV in a 7:00 p.m. game at the Thunderdome. 

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