Bizarre ending to regulation mars UCSB’s 79-70 OT loss at Riverside

Phil Martin scored 33 points and Robert Smith added 16, including two improbable free throws with less than 10 seconds to play in regulation to lead UC Riverside to a 79-70 overtime win over UC Santa Barbara on Thursday night in Riverside.

The game needed a bizarre ending of regulation to go to overtime.

After a Kyle Boswell three-pointer tied the score with 41 seconds left, the Gauchos (7-6 overall, 2-1 in the Big West) got a defensive stop. Following a timeout they got the ball to Orlando Johnson who drove the lane and was fouled. He made a pair of free throws to give UCSB a 63-61 lead with 9.9 seconds left. Ball out of bounds to the Highlanders (9-8 overall, 3-1 in the Big West).

That’s when things got took an odd turn.

Santa Barbara called another timeout to set its defense. The Highlanders got the ball into Smith who, under token pressure, brought the ball up the court. Johnson, who was retreating defensively, was called for a foul in the backcourt.

The Gaucho bench protested vehemently and the three officials met at center court. Initially, the crew changed the call and they began to give the ball to the Highlanders near half court for an inbounds pass.

Not so fast. After further discussion, the officiating crew decided it couldn’t change the call and Smith made his free throws, sending the game into the unanticipated overtime.

UCR dominated the overtime, outscoring UCSB 16-7, and coasted to the win.

The weird ending clouded what was an otherwise entertaining, although poor-shooting, game that saw 12 ties and 13 lead changes. The Gauchos shot 36.4% for the game while the Highlanders, after a blazing start, made just 37.7%. UCSB was particularly poor from beyond the three-point arc going 6-for-24, 25.0%.

UCSB was led by Johnson who had 23 points and James Nunnally who added 16. Freshman Alan Williams, making his second straight start, scored nine points, but added career-highs of 11 rebounds and five blocked shots.

UCSB returns home on Saturday, Jan. 14 for the first of three straight home games. The Gauchos will host UC Irvine in a game that will tipoff at 7:00 p.m.