The UCSB men’s basketball team continued to struggle on the road Saturday, finding itself on the losing end of a 68-59 decision at Fullerton (10-7 overall, 5-4 in the Big West).
The loss was the Gauchos’ (7-11 overall, 4-6 Big West) ninth straight away from the friendly confines of the Thunderdome and their third in a row overall.
Ralphy Holmes of Fullerton applied the biggest dagger to the Gauchos’ hopes, scoring 20 points and grabbing eight boards to help bring Fullerton into a fourth-place tie with Idaho in the Big West while UCSB dropped back into seventh place.
“I think really the key to their team is Ralphy Holmes and Yaphett King,” UCSB Head Coach Bob Williams said. “Those two guys and the versatility they have defensively and offensively make them really a difficult matchup.”
King tallied 14 points in the victory over UCSB, which returned freshman Chris Moore to the lineup after a bout with academic ineligibility to give Williams a ninth player and another big body. Still, even with Moore and sophomore David Kennedy back in action to help junior Cameron Goettsche and sophomore Glenn Turner on the glass, the Gauchos were out-rebounded 44 to 35 and watched Fullerton grab 20 offensive rebounds.
I thought their offensive rebounding in the second half was the difference in the game,” Williams said. “They fought harder on the offensive board than we did on the defensive end.”
Freshman Alex Harris was one of the few positives for UCSB, netting 16 points in the losing effort. Because 12 of those points came in the first half, Williams thought Harris left a lot to be desired.
“I thought [Harris] was good, especially in the first half,” Williams said. “I liked how he played tonight. I thought he had good intensity, but he wears down. As Al fatigues he kind of runs out of gas a little bit.”
Goettsche and junior Joe See each collected 12 points, and even though the Gauchos out-shot Fullerton 44 percent to 35 percent and last year’s Big West Freshman of the Year Bobby Brown played just seven minutes, they could not manage to keep the game close in the second half. Over one seven-minute span in the final half, Fullerton went on a 15-0 run that UCSB never recovered from.
The loss was the first for Santa Barbara at Fullerton in eight years and the first at Fullerton in Williams’ career at UCSB.