Gauchos Smother Titans To Tie-Up Seventh Seed
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -- Alan Williams finished with a double-double of 20 points and 14 rebounds, pacing three teammates in double figures on Thursday night and lifting host UC Santa Barbara to a, 66-50, Big West Conference men's basketball victory over Cal State Fullerton at The Thunderdome.
Senior Kwame Vaughn shared game-high honors with 20 points while playing all 40 minutes and Alex Harris, who also played nearly the entire game, finished with 11 points and eight rebounds for the Titans (14-16, 6-11), who fell into a tie with the Gauchos (10-19, 6-11) for the No. 7 seed in next week's Big West Tournament.
Fullerton now needs a win over Cal Poly on Saturday and a loss by Santa Barbara against UC Riverside in the regular season finale in order to gain the upper hand and not leave its seeding fate up to tiebreakers. If the Titans and Gauchos remain tied after Saturday, Fullerton would need the Mustangs to finish ahead of both Pacific and UC Irvine in the league standings to earn the higher seed.
For Vaughn, it was his 12th 20-point game of the season -- the second-highest total in the Big West this year -- was enough to move him into 19th place on the school's all-time scoring list with 1,031 career points, six points shy of teammate D.J. Seeley for the No. 18 spot. Harris finished in double figures for the sixth-consecutive game as the Titans went without two of its top three scorers due to injury for the second-straight game.
The Titans shot just .354 from the field for the night to the Gauchos' 44 percent overall and hit just 3-of-15 from three-point range for the game as Fullerton, which led by as many as four points in the first half and trailed by only a single point, 23-22, at the break, fell victim to a big second half by Santa Barbara, which used an 8-0 run early in the period to erase a one-point Titan advantage.
UCSB rebuilt its lead back to 10 points at 36-26 with 13:26 to play, but Fullerton continued to chip away, scoring eight of the next 10 points to make it a four-point contest and the Titans trailed by the same margin with nine minutes to go before the Gauchos made their final push, using a 13-3 burst late to go up 59-44 with 2:33 remaining and cruise from there.
Powered by Williams' 14 rebounds, UC Santa Barbara outrebounded Fullerton, 42-25, and dominated the points in the paint by a 40-14 margin. Michael Bryson (14), Taran Brown (11), and Kyle Boswell (10) also finished in double digits for the Gauchos.
The Titans' regular season comes to a close on Saturday night (March 9) at 7 p.m. in San Luis Obispo against the Mustangs before opening play at the Big West Tournament on Thursday (March 14) at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif.