Somogyi says block this way

FRESNO – The game may not have busted any brackets, but UCSB 64-60 road win over Fresno State on Saturday night extended the Gauchos’ longest winning streak of the season to five games.

Orlando Johnson scored a game-high 23 points and Greg Somogyi set a school record with eight blocked shots as UCSB (16-8) came through down the stretch to defeat the Bulldogs (13-15) on Saturday night at the Save Mart Center in Fresno. Although not televised, the game was part of the ESPNU Bracket Busters series.


“A win like this can really keep our momentum going,” said UCSB head coach Bob Williams. “In the big picture, that’s what this does. We have had a good thing going and winning on the road, in a tough place to play, means a lot.”

The win is not only gives Santa Barbara five straight wins, but eight out of nine, and 11 out of 13. It was also the fourth straight road win for UCSB.

The Gauchos jumped out to a big lead in the first half. On top 7-6 just over four minutes into the game, they went on a 14-0 to take a 21-6 lead. Johnson capped the run with a 3-point basket, giving him seven of the 14 points. James Powell also had a 3-pointer and Somogyi a pair of dunks for the other seven points.

The Bulldogs responded with a 14-2 run of their own to close within 23-20 with 5:39 left in the first half. Mike Ladd made a 3-pointer and a pair of 2-point jumpers during the sequence, but UCSB pushed the lead back to 30-22 before settling for a 32-28 halftime lead.

Over the first 15 minutes of the second half, Fresno State narrowed the Santa Barbara lead to one four times, but the Bulldogs were kept at bay until Ladd’s 3-pointer with 4:32 to play tied the score at 55-55.

It was the first and last tie of the game.

A free throw by Will Brew, a defensive stop, and then a short jumper by James Nunnally put UCSB back up by three, 58-55. The lead was bumped to 60-55 when Johnson hit a 10-foot turnaround after an offensive foul by Greg Smith gave the ball back to the Gauchos.

A tip-in by Smith and a hanging jumper by Brandon Sperling cut the edge to 60-59 with 2:27 remaining. The teams traded missed shots for the next two minutes. When Paul George missed a jumper with 18 seconds left, Johnson came down with the rebound and UCSB called a timeout.

The Gauchos got the ball into Powell who was fouled with 13.8 seconds to play. Powell made two free throws to extend the lead to three, 62-59.

The Bulldogs got the ball in and with just more than seven seconds to play, Jordan Weiner intentionally fouled Ladd. Ladd missed the first free throw but made the second and the lead was down to two, 62-60.

UCSB threw the inbounds pass away and Fresno State immediately called a timeout. Out of the timeout, the Bulldogs got the ball to their leading scorer, George, who launched a 3-point attempt with two seconds to play. The ball glanced off the rim to Johnson, who was intentionally fouled with 0.4 seconds left. He made both free throws and the game was over.

“We had a lot of players come through tonight,” Williams said. “Obviously Orlando made big shots when we needed them, but James (Powell) made two huge free throws and Somogyi really changed the game, again.”

Somogyi’s eight blocked shots were two more than the previous record of six, held by Eric McArthur, Glenn Turner, Cameron Goettsche, Richard Anderson, and Robbie Robinson.

Powell added 10 points and three assists to Johnson’s 23 points. Johnson also had four rebounds. Somogyi had seven points, four rebounds, and one assist as well as his eight blocks. Nunnally struggled offensively, finishing with eight points on 3-of-12 overall and 0-for-5 from 3-point range, but he led UCSB with seven rebounds.

The Gauchos shot 45.1% overall and limited Fresno State to 32.7% from the field. The Bulldogs stayed in the game at the free throw line, making 20-of-35 while UCSB made 13-of-19.

The Gauchos, who are in first place in the Big West with a 10-3 record, returns to league action on Wednesday, Feb. 24 when they host Cal State Northridge at 7:00 p.m. in the Thunderdome.