The UCSB men’s basketball team cooked Pepperdine 65-62 on a sizzling three-point game-winning dagger by junior forward Casey Cook. The Gauchos, rallying from four down with 1:33 to play, won their season opener on Wednesday evening in the Thunderdome to improve their season record to 2-2.
Sophomore forward Cameron Goettsche cut the Waves’ lead to two on a sweet lay-up after senior guard Jacoby Atako released a nifty dump to the streaking Goettsche. Moments later, Pepperdine freshman guard Shaun Davis tried to drive on Atako, but the 2002-03 Big West Defensive Player of the Year forced Davis to throw up an awkward attempt towards the hoop. Sophomore guard Joe See scrambled for the loose ball and pushed the UCSB offense up the court. Finding a hole in the lane, See seized the opening and tossed up a runner. A trailing Goettsche slammed home the miss, electrifying the crowd and tying up the game at 62-62 with just 37 seconds remaining. Pepperdine junior guard Terrance Johnson took the ball and headed toward the basket but his shot hit the front rim, spurting the ball to Goettsche. After calling a time out with 12 second to go, Santa Barbara took to the court with the last possession and a chance to win the game. Junior guard Chrismen Oliver inbounded the ball to See with four seconds to go and the first-year transfer from Oregon State found a wide-open Cook at the top of the three-point arc. Cook buried the game winner with a half-second showing on the clock and an ensuing court-long outlet pass deflection meant a Santa Barbara victory.
“It was a do or die situation,” Cook said of the final shot. “I just saw [See] driving, he passed the ball and it felt good out of my hands.”
Up by nine with 18:54 to play in the game, the Gauchos slowly squandered the lead and the Waves went up 50-49 on a free throw by Johnson. Santa Barbara hung tough and waited until the final second to reclaim the lead.
“I like the progress that was made competing,” UCSB Head Coach Bob Williams said. “I thought Cameron came up big [with the dunk] but none of that was as important as getting three straight defensive stops at the end. I’m proud of his rebounds.”
Pepperdine (1-4) has lost three games in the last 30 seconds of the game over the last five days. The Waves dropped a 84-82 heartbreaker at Oklahoma State on Nov. 29 and then a 78-74 defeat at the hands of Big West foe Cal State Fullerton at Firestone Fieldhouse in Malibu on Monday night. Pepperdine Head Coach Paul Westphal had four players post double-digit scoring efforts against UCSB, but the Waves were out-shot 44.8 to 38.1 percent from the field.
“We played well enough to win but didn’t make our shots. [The Gauchos] played well enough to win and did,” Westphal, the former 1993 NBA finalist as head coach of the Phoenix Suns, said. “It was a hard fought game for 40 minutes. The last shot was highly contested and [Cook] just made it.”
Santa Barbara hosts Westmont on Dec. 10 and the University of San Diego on Dec. 13 before traveling to Pauley Pavilion to face UCLA on Dec. 17. The Gauchos will also face #1 Kansas in the Wolf Pack Classic in Reno, Nev. on Dec. 20.