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Powell’s 7 Three-Pointers Paces Gauchos

Sophomore guard leads UCSB to 73-55 victory over Riverside.

James Powell made a career-high seven three-pointers in just eight attempts and scored 24 points to lead UCSB to a 73-55 victory over UC Riverside on Saturday night. Alex Harris and Ivan Elliott, playing their final home games as Gauchos, scored 18 and 16 points, respectively.

Powell got three of his three-pointers plus a three-point play in the first eight minutes to put UCSB (21-7 overall, 10-4 in the Big West Conference) ahead, 21-8. The Gauchos still led by 13, 25-12, with 6:55 to play in the first half, but a 14-3 run pulled the Highlanders (7-19 overall, 3-11 in league play) within two, 28-26. Harris hit a pair of free throws to stretch the advantage back to four, 30-26, with 33 seconds left.

UCR guard Sean Cunningham was fouled with seven seconds remaining in the first half, but after making the first of two free throws to make it 30-27, he missed the second. Justin Joyner rebounded the miss for UCSB, raced up court and banked in a three-pointer as the half ended to give his team a 33-27 halftime advantage.

UCSB held Riverside scoreless for the first 4:09 of the second half, taking a commanding 42-27 lead when Harris followed a three-point basket with a layup off of a perfect feed from Powell. The Highlanders never pulled closer than 13 the rest of the way, and the Gauchos led by a game-high 20 on three occasions.

“James was really on fire tonight,” UCSB head coach Bob Williams said. “I thought him coming out shooting as well as he did was huge. I think Alex was a little nervous to start. He had a lot of friends and family here for his last game, and he didn’t really settle in until the second half.”

With his 18 points, Harris moved past the 1,600-point mark with 1,613. He is just the second UCSB player to score 1,600 or more points in his career. In addition to his 18 points, he tied for game-high honors with four assists.

UCSB outshot Riverside, 53.1 percent to 41.5, and was 11-for-19 from the three-point line.

The Gauchos travel to Cal State Northridge for an important Big West game at 7 p.m. Thursday. UCSB is in third place in the league, one game back of the first-place Matadors and a half-game behind second-place Cal State Fullerton.

Bill Mahoney is UCSB‘s assistant athletics director.

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