In a historic year for the Big West Conference, during which it placed two teams in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament for the first time since 1993, the closest the UCSB men’s basketball team could get to the Big Dance was the glass of a television screen.
After a first-round win over Long Beach, the Gauchos took an early exit from the 2005 Big West Tournament, getting ousted by Fullerton 66-55 in the second round March 10, at the Anaheim Convention Center.
The Titans allowed UCSB to lead for eight minutes early on in the first half before taking control of the game. The Gauchos’ four-point advantage with 10:52 remaining in the first frame would be their last lead of the half and of the game.
A 17-6 Fullerton run to end the first half, led by senior forward Ralphy Holmes, put the Gauchos at an 11-point disadvantage, 35-24 at the break. Holmes, who took the conference-scoring title and second-team All-Conference honors, notched 14 of his game-high 20 points in the first half.
“This was a great win for us,” Fullerton Head Coach Bob Burton said. “We haven’t had a lot of victories in [the Big West] Tournament.”
Fullerton took advantage of Gaucho turnovers in the first half, scoring 14 points off of nine turnovers. Despite keeping up with the Titans on the boards, Santa Barbara allowed 13-second chance points in the first half.
In the second half, the Gauchos were able to match Fullerton, with guards senior Chrismen Oliver and junior Josh Davis scoring 11 and eight, respectively, in the second 20 minutes. UCSB got within six points on a jumper from Oliver to cut the lead to 46-40 with 13:49 remaining.
“Our zone just kind of wore on them a little and they didn’t get any second-chance points for about five minutes,” UCSB Head Coach Bob Williams said. “We hit a few shots and at that time I actually felt pretty good about where we were.”
From there, the Gauchos went cold, shooting just 32 percent in the second half. On the other end, sophomore guard Bobby Brown, junior forward Jamaal Brown and senior forward Yaphett King combined for 20 of the Titans’ 31 second-half points, while Jamaal Brown and Holmes worked the glass to earn 11 boards apiece.
The Gauchos earned their 55-49 first-round win over Long Beach with a late comeback. Trailing by 12 midway through the second half, UCSB got a boost from junior guard Joe See, who scored 14 of his game-high 19 points in the last 12 minutes. Sophomore forward Glenn Turner posted nine boards and 11 points, while Oliver added 13 points and four steals for Santa Barbara.