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Gauchos gang up on UCI

BASKETBALL: Fells is lone Anteater in double figures as UCSB comes away with 64-59 Big West win, UCI's first home loss.

January 07, 2007|By Barry Faulkner

IRVINE — The UC Santa Barbara men's basketball team played as if it had a two-day score to settle.

Meanwhile, UC Irvine played as if it would settle for primarily letting one man score.

The result Saturday night was a 64-59 Big West Conference win for the Gauchos, before 2,128 at the Bren Events Center.

UCI (7-9, 1-1 in conference) lost for the first time in six home games this season, primarily because no one stepped up to provide a scoring complement to 6-foot-7 junior center Darren Fells.

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Fells, the Anteaters' lone preseason first-team all-conference selection who continues to come off the bench, made five of nine field-goal tries and nine of 10 foul shots to produce 20 points in 34 minutes. In addition to his scoring output, which tied a career high and nearly matched the 27 points produced by the combined starting five, he led the Anteaters with seven rebounds.

But no other UCI player scored in double figures and the rest of the Anteaters shot a paltry 30.4% from the field (14 of 46).

UCSB (11-4, 3-1), on the other hand, had four players in double digits, led by junior guard Alex Harris with 23.

Harris had some redemption of his own in mind Saturday, after scoring a season-low 10 in the Gauchos' 101-65 thrashing by Long Beach State on Thursday. It was UCSB's most lopsided loss since 1979.

Harris, who has scored in double figures in all 15 games and has twice been conference Player of the Week, had 12 points with slightly more than nine minutes elapsed and had 16 at halftime.

But as he faded down the stretch (scoreless in the final 11:58), his teammates came forth to provide support.

Senior Cecil Brown scored eight of his 10 points in the final 9:51, including a three-pointer that gave UCSB a 47-46 lead with 9:51. Brown's three-pointer, his first conversion in four tries from beyond the arc, was near the front end of an 11-2 Gauchos run that put the visitors in control.

Chris Devine scored six of his 15 points in the final half, while James Powell netted six points in the final 109 seconds, including a three-pointer that gave UCSB a 57-52 edge with 1:49 left. Powell finished with 10.

Though Santa Barbara missed four of its next seven free throws, UCI could not connect from the field, until Adam Templeton buried a three ball with 11 seconds left to draw UCI within 62-59.

Templeton's three-pointer, on the third shot of that Anteaters' possession, was the only field goal in the final 6:01 for the hosts.

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