MBK: Gauchos can’t find a way past Irvine

UCSB's Alan Williams scored 24 points and grabbed 15 rebounds in Friday's Big West semifinal.

UCSB’s Alan Williams scored 24 points and grabbed 15 rebounds in Friday’s Big West semifinal.

 

An open look from Alan Williams didn’t fall at the end of regulation and UC Irvine took advantage in overtime to advance past UCSB at the Big West Tournament on Friday in a 72-63 decision.

The Anteaters had new life in overtime and began the extra period on a 7-0 run. UCSB trailed 66-61 and had possession with just over a minute to go but failed to score and were forced to start fouling.

Williams’ potential game-winner came inside the paint from 12 feet and hit the back of the rim.

BOX SCORE

“I make that shot 9 out of 10 times, that’s the one time I miss it. I work on it all the time, it just didn’t fall,” Williams said.

Williams scored 24 points and pulled down 15 rebounds. The senior is UCSB’s all-time rebounder and an all-time Gaucho great but was stopped short of ever experiencing the NCAA Tournament.

“This was something that was really important to me and my teammates, it’s a shame that you can’t win them all, in my case I didn’t win one,” Williams said. “But I can’t sulk.I have no doubt in my mind these guys will be right back in the thick of things next year. Nothing would make me happier to see the guys I’ve fought with for so long make it to the tournament.”

UCSB head coach Bob Williams will miss his leading scorer, rebounder, and shot blocker from the past three seasons.

“You had to be there on senior night to hear the list that was read off to hear all the accomplishments that he’s accumulated,” Coach Williams said. “He came in as a freshman and before we were halfway through December, he was a fan favorite. Al was the favorite… the reason is he plays the game with great charisma, great energy. He’s a double-double machine. He did everything he could do. Our guys did everything they could do. I’m the one that didn’t do what I needed to do.”

Alan Williams became the second player in school history to eclipse 1,700 points, finishing the game with 1,714. He now has 1,115 rebounds, tying him for second on the Big West Conference’s all-time list.

UC Irvine’s defense, anchored by 7’6″ center Mamadou Ndiaye, held the Gauchos to 32.3 percent shooting from the field in the game. Ndiaye finished with 18 points, five rebounds and four blocks. Will Davis had 18 points and 15 rebounds.

“I am really proud of my team for that win,” said Irvine head coach Russell Turner. “I think we showed great character, that is what we should show, because that is what we have. I want to congratulate Santa Barbara on a terrific season. We feel really good about competing against them and pulling out a tough win.”

Ndiaye’s presence in the middle forced UCSB to take the three-pointer but the Gauchos connected on just 3 of 19.

“We didn’t have a very good shooting night from the three,” Bob Williams said. “When you play against their zone you’re going to get looks from three and you’re going to have to be able to knock some down.”

John Green was UCSB’s second-leading scorer with 14 points but Green fouled out as did starting guard Gabe Vincent. Neither player was available in overtime.

UC Irvine (20-12) and Hawaii will play on Saturday in the tournament championship game with the winner receiving an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament that begins next Thursday.

Comments

  1. GeeWillikersWally says

    Isn’t this the second year in a row that Coach Williams has accepted the blame for inept coaching resulting in early ousters from the tournament? He recruits great kids who are good student athletes, but how are you going to win with two starting guards who can’t shoot the ball? This stuff of being a middle of the road team in a weak conference is hard to take as a ticket buying, team supporting fan.

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