UC Santa Barbara has zero centers listed on its 1990-91 men’s basketball roster. It starts three guards and two forwards. But don’t be fooled into thinking the Gauchos do not have a formidable inside game.
They showed the University of San Diego just how well that inside game can be, defeating the Toreros, 72-63, in front of 5,513.
Forwards Gary Gray and Lucius Davis scored 20 and 17 points respectively, including combining for 20 of the Gauchos’ 26 points before former Torero John Sayers made a free throw with seven seconds left to end the scoring to give UCSB its fourth victory in a row over USD.
Of its 17 baskets in the second half, UCSB made seven of seven layups and six of nine shots in the key.
Meanwhile, USD managed just four points in the final five minutes after the game was tied, 59-59.
USD also committed 20 turnovers, had only nine assists and shot just 50% (nine of 18) from the free throw line.
Numbers like that do not normally beat a team the caliber of UCSB, which has had three 20-win seasons in a row and is 47-9 the past four seasons in the Thunderdome.
UCSB improved to 1-1. USD (5-2) failed for the second game in a row to give Hank Egan his 100th victory. The other was a 91-64 loss to No. 7 Indiana Saturday in the Indiana Classic.
Despite the numerous negative statistics, Egan still saw a number of positive things the Toreros did.
“Tonight, we battled like a team,” he said. “We missed some shots down the stretch, and we missed some free throws down the stretch, but we battled out there. Right down to the very end, I thought both teams had a chance to win this thing. It’s going to look like a nine-point loss, but it was nip-and-tuck all the way.”
Close throughout, neither team took more than a five-point lead until UCSB went up, 69-63, with 38 seconds left.
The puncuation mark was an uncontested two-handed reverse slam by Gray with 16 seconds left.
UCSB (1-1) was playing its first game in 13 days because of midterm examinations and only its second overall, and USD had just flown in from Indiana, where the Toreros participated in the Indiana Classic Friday and Saturday nights.
It showed. Neither team shot well, nor looked very crisp early on.
“I think we were a little tired, having played back-to-back days and then traveling all day Sunday,” USD forward Kelvin Woods said.
USD missed its first three shots, before Pat Holbert made a steal near midcourt and drove the rest of the way for an easy fingerroll layup. UCSB made its first shot, but then failed to score in its next eight trips down the court.
USD didn’t get in double digits until 9:50 remained in the half. When it did--on a Dondi Bell eight-foot hook shot from the right baseline--USD trailed just 11-10. Twelve seconds later, it took the lead on a Kelvin Woods layup.
The game was tied four times in the first half and neither team had much of a lead or particular roll to speak of. USD took its biggest lead, 17-13, on a Woods eight-foot jumper and a Michael Brown three-point shot from the right wing with 7:30 left.
Three times UCSB took three-point leads, including 28-25 just before half. Geoff Probst’s 22-foot three-pointer from the right wing with 38 seconds left tied the game. The Gauchos went to the locker room with a 30-28 lead after Gary Gray made fourth and fifth free throws of the half with four seconds left.
Lucius Davis, who had eight of the first 13 points for the Gauchos, finished the half with a team-high eight. Holbert also had eight to lead USD.
The most telling stats of the half for both teams were assists and turnovers. UCSB had just five assists and eight turnovers. USD was even worse with four assists and 11 turnovers.
Holbert finished with 16 points and Woods 11. Three other Toreros had seven points, including Dondi Bell, who also had a game-high 11 rebounds.
Ray Kelly, a former teammate of USD’s Wayman Strickland at Riordan High in San Francisco, played his first game for UCSB after sitting out last year and the first game this year after transferring from Texas Christian. Kelly(5-feet-11) had 10 points and a game-high six assists and provided a solid leadership at the point guard position.
“I think the little guy, Kelly, gave us some quickness out there that we needed,” UCSB Coach Jerry Pimm said. “He was a little winded for a few minutes, but the rest of the time he sparked us.”