As far as circumstances go, they don’t get much more extenuating for a basketball team than this.
Already down to just eight available players, UCSB Head Coach Bob Williams made the game-time decision to rest junior forward Cameron Goettsche and his ailing groin Thursday night before the Gauchos took to the court against Big West powerhouse Utah State (10-3 overall, 1-1 Big West).
With just seven players, and only one true big man, the chips were stacked against the Gauchos (4-7, 2-2 Big West). But when it comes down to it, the game only demands five players. The Gaucho guards and sophomore forward Glenn Turner hung tough at Utah State on the back of junior Joe See’s eight three pointers, but couldn’t keep up with the big men of Utah State and freshman Jaycee Carroll who knocked down eight of his own to lead the Aggies to an 80-70 victory.
“Well, there’s no moral victories,” Williams said. “But it’s definitely something we’re going to try and build on, and hopefully Joe See can keep this going for us.”
Carroll set the precedent for See, knocking down eight of his own from behind the arc before See really got going.
“He’s a really good freshman. He shoots the heck out of the ball, he gets rid of it really quick and gets to it quick, but he’s a better athlete than I thought he was,” Williams said of Carroll. “He has great court sense, and he’ll be a tremendous player, especially when you play with guys like [Nate] Harris and [Spencer] Nelson around him.”
Midway though the first half, UCSB appeared to be fated for another blowout, but the Gauchos cut a 28-14 deficit to 36-30 at the half.
The second half started the same way, with the Aggies reeling off an 8-0 run to start the half. Once Carroll was done bombing the Gauchos, it was See’s turn. A barrage of See three’s narrowed a 19-point gap to seven with under two minutes to play, but the three point storm would prove to be too late.
“I think this is just a tough place to play; it always has been, and it’s a place where we’ve come with healthy, good ball clubs and not been able to win,” Williams said of the Dee Glenn Smith Spectrum in Logan, Utah. “I thought we played hard – and obviously Joe See got hot and hit a lot of three’s, and that kind of kept us within striking distance.”
With just one player over 6’6″, UCSB was vulnerable on the glass, and the Aggies exploited this weakness with ease. Utah State out-rebounded UCSB 44-21, but Glenn Turner – UCSB’s lone big man – did all he could by tallying seven] boards, five blocks and eight points off the bench for the Gauchos.
“I thought Glenn had some progress tonight. I’m really pleased by the fact that he was able to stay out of foul trouble, get some rebounds and some blocks,” Williams said.
The Gauchos return to action Saturday when they travel to Moscow, Ida., to take on Idaho State at 7 p.m. Williams is uncertain whether Goettsche will be back for the crucial Big West matchup.