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MBK: Big Al, Gauchos off to a good start

Junior Alan Williams picked-up where he left off last season, scoring 27 points and grabbing 17 rebounds leading UC Santa Barbara to a 76-50 win over visiting Hawaii-Pacific in the season opener for both teams Friday night.

Williams, who had 15 double-doubles as a sophomore, could have sat out the second half and still finished with one against the Sea Warriors (0-1). He had 20 points and 11 rebounds in just 14 first half minutes as the Gauchos (1-0) transformed an early 6-1 deficit into a 34-20 lead at the break.

“I think we saw again tonight just how good Alan can be,” said head coach Bob Williams. “He played with such great energy and the team feeds off of that.”

Williams didn’t have much company in the first half as his teammates combined for 5-of-18 from the field overall, 1-for-9 from three-point range and just 14 points.

The first five minutes of the second half were a different story as senior Kyle Boswell gave Williams a helping hand, making three three-pointers as the Gauchos opened the half on a 16-10 run to take a 50-30 lead.

Led by Malte Ziegenhagen who scored five of his team-high 14 points, the Sea Warriors used an 11-0 run to pull within 50-41 with 11:28 left in the game.

The rally ended when John Green made a pair of jumpers, Taran Brown hit a pair of free throws and a breakaway dunk, and Sam Beeler drained a pair of free throws, pushing the lead back to 60-41 wit 8:50 left in the game.

The Gaucho lead never dipped below 15 the rest of the way.

Michael Bryson (13) and Boswell (10) were also in double-figures for UCSB. Playing his first official game as the starting point guard for the Gauchos, junior Zalmico Harmon had a game-high seven assists. Brown finished with nine points and eight rebounds.

“Z (Harmon) was huge in his first game,” Coach Williams said. “Seven assists and no turnovers are great numbers. He’s been playing with a sore thumb on his right hand, but he is a warrior.”

As a team, the Gauchos made just 421% of their shots, but they limited Hawaii-Pacific to 33.3%. Santa Barbara was also limited to 5-of-20 from three-point range.

“We didn’t shoot the ball well,” Coach Williams said, “but I thought we played well. We played with good energy and effort. In fact, we didn’t shoot it well, but still wound up with 76 points, which is good.”