MBK: Big Al has a big game in his Thunderdome finale

UCSB's Zalmico Harmon gets to the rim, splitting Cal Poly defenders David Nwaba, left, and Joel Awich, right.

UCSB’s Zalmico Harmon gets to the rim, splitting Cal Poly defenders David Nwaba, left, and Joel Awich, right.


Senior Alan Williams played his final home game as a member of the UC Santa Barbara basketball team on Saturday afternoon and he went out in style.

Williams had 26 points, 19 rebounds and a pair of blocked shots to lead the Gauchos (18-12 overall, 11-5 in Big West) to a 64-56 win over Cal Poly (13-15, 6-10). It was UCSB closed out the regular season by winning five in a row and eight of its last nine.

The victory, coupled with UC Irvine’s loss at UC Davis, means that the Gauchos will be the No. 2 seed in the Big West Tournament and will face the Mustangs again on Thursday in the first round at Honda Center in Anaheim. The game time is scheduled to tip at 8:30 p.m.

On Saturday, UCSB took an early lead and pushed it to 12 at 30-18 on three free throws by its other senior, Zalmico Harmon, with 2:01 to play in the first half.

Cal Poly scored the final basket of the half to narrow the advantage to 30-20 and then opened the second half on a 16-6 surge to tie the score at 36 all on a jumper by Joel Awich with 13:18 remaining in the game. The teams traded baskets over the next several minutes and the Mustangs actually eked in front 45-43 when David Nwaba drove baseline and hit a 10-foot jumper. With 10:30 left.

The Gauchos responded with a 7-0 run. Williams hit a lean-in jumper, Eric Childress drained a three-pointer from above the top of the key and John Green scored on a reverse lay-in to make the score 50-45 with 7:37 on the clock.

Eric Childress looks for an open teammate.

Eric Childress looks to make a move on Cal Poly defender.

The Mustangs carved the lead back to one, 50-49 with 6:07 to play, on two free throws by Malik Love, but Green hit a three-pointer to push it back to 53-49 with just under six minutes left. Harmon made 1-of-2 free throws a minute later and the lead was back to 54-49.

Cal Poly cut UCSB’s lead to three points one more time, with 3:43 left, but never got closer. The Gauchos made 8-of-10 free throws down the stretch and Green took a lob pass from Harmon and threw down a thunderous dunk with just over a minute to play, putting an exclamation point on the win.

“Alan was tremendous tonight,” said head coach Bob Williams. “He was grabbing everything. They (the Mustangs) didn’t get many second chances because he was so dominant on the boards. He is one of the great players in the history of this program and he went out the way he should have gone out. I’m so happy for him.”

Alan Williams, however, was focused on the bigger prize.

“It’s all about next week in Anaheim,” he said. “I’m proud of my accomplishments, but I am all about the (Big West) tournament.”

Williams was joined in double-figures by Green who scored 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting from the field. Harmon added nine points and three rebounds with all of his points coming from the free throw line. T.J. Taylor played 18 minutes an finished with six points, on 2-of-3 from three-point range, and four assists. Michael Bryson also had four assists.

Brian Bennett paced Cal Poly with 14 points and six rebounds. David Nwaba had 10 points.

As a team, the Gauchos hit 46.7% from the field overall and 50.0% from three-point range. Also, after hitting its first 10 free throws, UCSB finished 19-of-22, 86.4%. The Mustangs made just 37.9% of their shots overall and 23.5% from outside the three-point arc.

Santa Barbara will open Big West Tournament play on Thursday, March 12 when it plays the Mustangs once again. The game at Honda Center will tip-off at 8:30 p.m. and will be televised on Fox Sports Prime Ticket.


  1. Gaucho Alumni says

    Gauuuuuchos Gauuuchos. Great game and great crowd. Maybe because the 89-90 Gaucho team that beat UNLV and went to the NCAA tourney and was there and honored at halftime explains why the fans were so loud and rowdyy. Yesterday
    s game was like turning back the clock to the good old days when Caririck and Eric and Idris and Lucious and Coach Pimm were winning games and the Thunderdome was rocking!

    • GeeWillikersWally says

      Gaucho, this time last year Coach W was issuing mea culpas for the teams first round ouster from their conference tournament. A tournament many of us thought they would win. Flash forward a year and we have Coach issuing more comments stating that it is his fault they were ousted. We all know that he is just blowing smoke to give his boys cover. Let’s hope that the guards on next years team can shoot and that Bryson lives up to his potential, and somehow make up for the loss of Big Al.