Powell, Devine muscle Gauchos to exhibition win

UCSB men’s basketball coach Bob Williams said he is looking for 30-to-35 points a game this season from projected leading scorers Chris Devine and James Powell.

In Saturday’s exhibition at the Thunderdome, the pair hit the mark with 34 and the Gauchos chalked up a 70-52 victory over Division II’s Cal State Dominguez Hills.

“It felt good to get back out on the floor. To see the fans all cheering and being able to play against somebody else other than ourselves,” said Powell. The junior guard led the team with 20 points on 6-for-9 shooting and four steals.

The Gauchos’ eagerness showed as they raced out to a 17-2 lead, with Devine and Powell scoring 12 during the run.

“We need James and Chris to be the two guys to carry the load,” said Williams, who stressed that also means being facilitators.

“There will be nights where they don’t, where people really say we’re going to shut these two down and then we’re going to need guys to hit open shots around them.”

The Gauchos were doing just that in the first half, knocking down 48 percent of their shots as a team. In the second, Dominguez started a full-court press, which slowed down UCSB considerably at first.

The Gauchos managed to score only two points in the first five minutes of the half, but caught fire for an eight-minute span that put the game well out of reach. The Gauchos extended a ten-point lead at 43-33 into a 65-40 blowout in that time.

The victory was marred by turnovers with the Gauchos committing 24 of them. But the defense made up for it with 17 steals and forced 27 turnovers from Dominguez.

Several Gauchos made their debuts on Saturday, most notably 7-foot-3 freshman Greg Somogyi.

“He can play,” Devine said of the Hungarian national. “A guy that size, usually you say ‘oh, he’s a project.’ I don’t think he’s neccessarily a project because he’s very good.”

Newbie Jaime Serna, a 6’7″, 235-pound freshman from Santa Margarita High, also got high marks for his play as did San Jose product James Nunnally.

“I thought they all showed pretty well for freshman,” said Williams. “Everybody has to be really impressed with Jamie and Somogyi. You just look at Jaime and Greg and say ‘oh my goodness, what a great future we have with those two.'”

Junior forward Jesse Byrd, a transfer from San Francisco, started for the Gauchos, scoring five points in 16 minutes.

“Really the game is to see how the young guys are going to play, how the team is going to play together, those kinds of things,” Devine said. “On that front, I thought we were ok. The young guys played well.”

Jerrell Smith had a team-high 14 points for the Toros. Rodney Yearby also reached double figures with 10 and added a game-high 13 rebounds.

Practice games done, UCSB opens the regular season with a three-game homestand starting Friday against Cal State Los Angeles. Former Big West rival Utah State visits on Nov. 17 before the Gauchos host the No. 1 North Carolina Tar Heels on Nov. 21.

Box Score from Saturday’s game