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UCSB Wins a Wild One in Long Beach

Gauchos' 70-68 overtime victory earns them top seed in Big West tournament.

During Bob Williams’ tenure as UCSB’s head coach, the Gauchos have lost four games at Long Beach State on last-second shots. Fittingly, Saturday’s UCSB-Long Beach game had a wild ending. In fact, it had two, and this time the Gauchos won.

Alex Harris scored 21 points, including a free throw following a 49ers technical foul with 0.3 seconds to play in overtime and the score tied, 68-68, to help the Gauchos to a 70-68 win. With the victory, UCSB broke its school record for wins in a season with 23. More important, it secured the No. 1 seed in next week’s Big West Conference Tournament, giving the Gauchos a bye into the semifinals.

This one needs some explaining.

With 1:26 remaining in overtime, trailing by two points, James Powell scored on a layup to tie the score, 68-68. On the next possession, Powell rebounded a 49ers miss. The Gauchos brought the ball up the court, but with 37.6 seconds left, Harris was whistled for an offensive foul, giving possession back to Long Beach.

The 49ers brought the ball into the frontcourt, ultimately calling a timeout with 18 seconds left. Out of the timeout, Long Beach point guard Maurice Clady got the ball to Cornel Williams on the left side of the lane. Williams went up for layup but Chris Devine went up with him and swatted the shot into the corner, where it was chased down by Brice Gallow.

The Gauchos trapped Gallow in the corner, but he called and was awarded a timeout — despite the shot clock reading 0 and the game clock 2.6 seconds. The 49ers were unable to get a shot off when they brought the ball in, and turned the ball over on a shot-clock violation with 1.8 seconds to play.

After a timeout, UCSB took the ball in deep in the corner. Justin Joyner heaved a three-quarter court pass to an open Devine, and after a quick dribble, he went up for a fairly open shot just inside the three-point line. Clady, however, fouled Devine with 0.3 seconds left on the clock, sending the Gauchos junior to the free-throw line for a pair.

Devine missed the first free throw and was preparing to take the second when the 49ers called a timeout they didn’t have. They were given the timeout, but were also issued a technical foul, which is where Harris comes in.

The UCSB senior went to the line and calmly made the first of two free throws, giving the Gauchos a 69-68 lead. He rimmed out the second shot. Devine then marched back to the charity stripe and tried to miss his attempt to force a rebound, running the remaining time off the clock. Instead, he banked the shot in, allowing Long Beach a final opportunity, but Greg Plater’s shot missed and the game was over.

The crazy overtime was actually the second wild ending.

Fueled by Donovan Morris, who scored a game-high 33 points, Long Beach overcame a seven-point deficit in the final 1:07 to tie the score and send it into overtime. Morris got the rally started by converting a four-point play. With 1:07 left, he took a pass after coming around a screen, and was fouled by Paul Roemer while making a three-point shot.

On the other end of the court, a pass went through Powell’s hands and out of bounds, giving the 49ers the ball, and with 25 seconds left, Morris drew the defenders and hit Williams with a pass. Williams made the layup to pull Long Beach to within one, 62-61. After a timeout, the Gauchos got the ball back to Powell, and he was fouled by Lauren Heard. He calmly made both free throws with 15 second remaining, giving UCSB a 64-61 lead.

But Morris wasn’t done as he nailed another three-pointer with nine seconds to play, tying the score, 64-64. After a timeout, UCSB got the ball to Harris, but the Gauchos senior’s shot went in and out and the game went into the bizarre overtime.

Morris still wasn’t done putting his imprint on the game. With 2:40 to play in the extra session, and the 49ers leading, 68-66, the junior was called for charging. It was his fifth foul and he became a spectator for the wild finish.

The victory was UCSB’s third straight overall, sixth straight in Big West play, and seventh straight on the road in league. It improves the Gauchos’ overall record to 23-7 and their Big West record to 12-4. The 49ers dropped to 6-24 overall, 3-13 in league.

In addition to Harris’ 21 points, Devine finished with 17, all in the second half and overtime. Ivan Elliott added 12, making all five of his field-goal attempts, and Powell had 10. Nedim Pajevic scored eight. Devine led the Gauchos with seven rebounds, and UCSB shot 51.1 percent from the field.

Williams added 14 points, and Plater had 10 for Long Beach.

The win gives UCSB a bye into the semifinal round at the Big West Tournament. The Gauchos, who finished in a tie for the conference crown, won out on tiebreakers. They will play their first game at 5:30 p.m. Friday at the Anaheim Convention Center. The tournament will open with first-round games Wednesday.


Bill Mahoney is UCSB‘s assistant athletics director.

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