Santa Barbara Nearly Blows Big Lead but Stops Irvine

Times Staff Writer

UC Santa Barbara, which led by as many as 17 points in the second half, ended up having to play beat the clock Monday night to hang on for an 81-78 victory over UC Irvine in a Pacific Coast Athletic Assn. basketball opener for both teams.

The Anteaters, playing before 3,005 in the Bren Center, outscored Santa Barbara, 15-4, in a 4 1/2-minute stretch and trailed by only 71-65 with 6:14 remaining when Kevin Floyd hit a six-foot bank shot. They continued to cut the deficit, closing to 79-78, when Wayne Engelstad hit two free throws with 50 seconds left.

Santa Barbara Coach Jerry Pimm called time out and set up a special play for a special player, senior guard Brian Shaw. The Gauchos worked the 45-second shot clock down to less than 10 seconds and then Shaw worked his way through the lane--and a series of picks--and popped out on the baseline. Carrick DeHart passed him the ball, and Shaw hit a nine-foot turnaround jumper as time ran out on the shot clock.

A couple more seconds passed as Irvine tried frantically to call a timeout. After much debate, the officials decided there were two seconds left in the game when Irvine called time out. Engelstad's long inbound pass went through the hands of Mike Doktorczyk, however, and the favored Gauchos (9-1) came away with their best start in 48 years. Irvine is 5-5.

"We're giving clinics in how to lose leads," said Pimm, whose team has led in the second half of every game this season. "You have to give Irvine credit. They came back strong. And we helped them with a couple of turnovers on our end."

Shaw, who finished with 22 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals, made 9 of 13 from the field. The Gauchos shot 56% from the floor but fell well short of the 95 points a game Irvine was allowing in nonconference play.

The Anteaters, who began the season as if they were bent on setting the record for most points allowed in every arena in which they played, seem to have discovered a half-court offense.

"We thought our post guys could take it to their post guys," Irvine Coach Bill Mulligan said. "It turned out that it worked the other way. We didn't lose this one in the last minute. We lost it in the first 30 when we played lousy."

Santa Barbara's talent-rich perimeter, with three guards starting, totaled 52 points. DeHart, last season's conference freshman of the year, had 14, and the other starter, Brian Johnson, had 10. Reserve Carlton Davenport added 6.

Mulligan expected that, but thought his senior post men--Engelstad and Frank Woods--would have big nights. Engelstad, who had just five points at halftime, got his game going to finish with 20. But he had eight turnovers. And Woods, who fouled out with 8:26 left in the game, had 14 points and 4 turnovers.

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