Boswell’s three-pointer puts Gauchos ahead for good

Kyle Boswell made a three-point basket from deep in the right corner with 29 seconds to play and Orlando Johnson made a pair of clutch free throw with 14 seconds remaining as UC Santa Barbara pulled-out a hard-fought 56-53 win at Pacific on Saturday night.

The Gauchos (11-7 overall, 6-2 in the Big West) had to overcome a 33.3% shooting performance and an outstanding performance by the Tigers’ (7-13 overall, 3-5 in the Big West) Lorenzo McCloud, who scored all of his game-high 20 points in the second half.

“I like the fact that Bos hits a huge three after missing his previous three or four,” Willaims said. “You’ve got to like that Orlando made all of his free throws down the stretch, that Jaimé (Serna) came up big again and that we gutted-out a big win on the road.”

Serna, who scored 18 points on 9-of-10 shooting in a win at UC Davis on Thursday, finished with 15 points and a career-high 12 rebounds. The senior had 13 of his points and seven of his rebounds in the second half. He made 7-of-8 free throws for the game, all in the final 20 minutes. Serna fouled out with 2:14 remaining in the game.

UCSB claimed its biggest lead of the game at 38-25 when Boswell made his first three-pointer of the game with 11:54 to play in the game, but led by McCloud, Pacific scratched back. When Trevin Harris made a pair of free throws with 7:44 to play, the lead was down to four, 42-38.

But the Gauchos kept fending off the Tigers and when Serna tipped-in a missed leaner by Keegan Hornbuckle, they led 48-42 with 3:50 to play.

McCloud matched Serna’s tip-in and went one better, draining a three-pointer from the top of the key with 3:41 to play to make it 48-45. Then, it was Serna’s turn again as he was hammered as he turned into the lane for a shot. He made a pair of free throws to push the advantage back to 50-45 with 2:30 to play.

Pacific wouldn’t go away. Harris made one out of two free throws after he induced Serna’s fifth foul at the 2:14 mark. The lead was down to 50-46. A missed three attempt by Boswell was followed by a driving McCloud lay-up and it was 50-48 with 1:30 remaining.

On the other end, Johnson was fouled by Markus Duran and made one of two free throws to push the Santa Barbara lead to three, 51-48, with 1:08 left. Just 14 second later, the Tigers made the Gauchos pay for the miss when Travis Fulton calmly hit a 22-foot three-pointer from the left side, tying the score at 51-apiece.

That’s when Boswell spun his magic.

UCSB swung the ball around the perimeter. It went to Johnson in the left corner but he was immediately double-teamed. He quickly passed the ball to Nate Garth who kept the ball moving to James Nunnally. Nunnally was double-teamed as well and found Boswell deep in the right corner. The sophomore from Huntington Beach calmly launched the biggest three-pointer of his career and it fell through, giving the Gauchos back a 54-51 lead with 29 seconds to play.

After a timeout, Pacific wisely put the ball in McCloud’s hands and the junior from Los Angeles drove all the way up the court and into the lane where he was on a lay-up attempt by Christian Peterson. McCloud, who finished 7-of-8 from the free throw line, made both on this trip and made it a 54-53 game with 18 seconds left.

The ball was inbounded to Nunnally who had it knocked out of bounds with 16 seconds to play. Following their final timeout, the Gauchos got it into Johnson, who was fouled with just over 14 seconds left on the clock. He calmly knocked-down both free throw attempts to push the margin back to three, 56-53.

Santa Barbara played fullcourt defense on Pacific’s final possession and McCloud was forced to attempt a long, off-balanced three-pointer as the buzzer sounded to end the game. Needless to say, it missed.

“This was a gritty win,” Williams said. “You’ll take one like that on the road. We’ve had some very tough games here and walked away without a win. This is a much better feeling.”

Neither team shot the ball well, but the Tigers, who finished at 31.3% for the game, were particularly bad in the first half when they went 5-of-26, 19.2%. The Gauchos made 35.7% in the first half but just 30.4% in the second. UCSB won the rebounding battle by a 41-31 margin and made 16 of its 18 free throws, 88.9%.

Johnson finished with 13 points, 10 of which came in the first half. Nunnally had 11 points and seven rebounds. Freshman Alan Williams, limited to 18 minutes because of foul trouble, had just four points, but he added nine rebounds. Boswell finished with eight points.

UCSB will remain on the road for two more games. On Thursday, Feb. 2, the Gauchos travel to the San Fernando Valley to play Cal State Northridge in a 7:00 p.m. game at the Matadome. On Saturday, Feb. 4, they will play a 6:00 p.m. game at Cal State Fullerton. The game against the Titans will be televised on ESPNU.