Jerry Pimm, the UC Santa Barbara coach, spent the better part of this week extolling the virtues of Cal State Fullerton's defense to his team and the local media. He went so far as to call the Titan defense "the best in the conference."
Pimm's Gauchos got a first-hand look at the Titan defense Thursday night in the Events Center and they didn't score a field goal in the last 14 1/2 minutes of the game against it.
Ah, the difference the "D" makes.
This time, though, UCSB still managed to win rather easily, scoring a 52-39 Pacific Coast Athletic Assn. victory by making 23 of 30 second-half free throws.
The funny thing about a good defense is that, unless you shut out the other team, you have to have a semblance of an offense to go with it. And these days, the Titans don't.
Fullerton (3-5 in PCAA play and 10-10 overall) had only three players score Thursday night. Forward Henry Turner had 17 points, forward Kerry Boagni had 13 and center Herman Webster had 9.
Guards Eugene Jackson and Alexander Hamilton, who are replacing the injured Kevin Henderson and Richard Morton, were a combined 0 for 6 from the field and both fouled out. Henderson and Morton have a combined scoring average of 34.
UCSB (3-5, 8-9) had 22 more free throws than Fullerton, but Titan Coach George McQuarn didn't think the officiating was a factor. "They beat us on the boards (UCSB outrebounded Fullerton, 32-16) and they played harder on the offensive end than we did," McQuarn said. "But the big difference is that we just couldn't score and it certainly didn't have anything to do with what Santa Barbara did. They just sat there in a zone."
The Titans' inability to score at all and UCSB's inability to score from anywhere but the free-throw line made for a very boring game.
Guard Conner Henry, who did not score in the first 11 minutes of the game, finished with 20 points, hitting 6 of 13 from the floor (including both of this three-point attempts) and all 6 of his free throws, to lead the Gauchos. Scott Fisher added 16 points, sinking 4 of 5 from the field and 8 of 9 from the free-throw line.