Junior guard Orlando Johnson scored a career-high 39 points and junior forward James Nunnally added 23 of his own in the UCSB men’s basketball team’s 93-86 overtime win over UC Davis at the Thunderdome on Saturday night.
[media-credit id=20281 align=”alignright” width=”136″][/media-credit]The Aggies’ Mark Payne, a 6’8” point guard, scored a career-high 33 points for Davis, which fell to 3-7 in the Big West. UCSB moves to a Big West mark of 5-5 with the win, which was the 400th of Head Coach Bob Williams’ career.
“We contested much better tonight, defended much better tonight,” Williams said. “But we still couldn’t [get past] that first half.”
The Aggies scored 45 points and shot 70.8 percent from the field in the first half. They had a 12-point lead with 3:07 left in the first, but the Gauchos went on a 14-4 run to close out the half down by only two.
“[It] was a little bit of a new thing for me,” Williams said. “[I’m] not used to teams giving up 70 percent, not used to people scoring 45 on us. But what I love is [our] response.”
Down by nine points with just under four minutes remaining in regulation, UCSB went on a 13-4 run heading into overtime, triggered by two free throws and a contested layup by Johnson.
At 78-73 with 1:30 to play, senior forward Jon Pastorek was fouled in the backcourt. He split the free throws, but junior guard Christian Peterson — who played in the four spot against Davis — grabbed the offensive board. After calling a timeout, the Gauchos drew up another play for Johnson, who was fouled on the layup attempt. He made both free throws to bring the Aggies’ lead down to three.
“Christian was big for us in this ball game tonight,” Johnson said. “Three offensive rebounds [and] he’s only 6’2”. He really just played his heart out. When we get that consistent effort from everybody, we can show what kind of team we could be.”
Near the end of regulation, Williams began substituting Johnson and Nunnally out on the Gauchos’ defensive possessions in order to keep his two best players rested. Still, the small Gaucho backcourt of senior guards Justin Joyner and Jordan Weiner forced a traveling violation against the Aggies with 47.2 seconds left in regulation.
“Jordan and [Joyner], those two are just ballhawks,” Johnson said. “They really helped me and James [pressure the] wings and create turnovers.”
With the Gauchos down 78-76, Johnson hit another contested layup to tie the game with 37.8 seconds to play. After another Gaucho timeout, Williams substituted Nunnally and Johnson out again on defense, calling for a full-court press. The Aggies’ Eddie Miller drew the foul on the ground in the front court with 33.4 seconds to play, but missed the first free throw of a one-and-one and Weiner grabbed the rebound. With 17 seconds on the clock, Nunnally hit a pull-up bank shot in the lane to give UCSB an 80-78 lead.
“I just wanted to get to the rim,” Nunnally said. “I knew I was either going to get fouled or going to make it.”
In the ensuing possession, Payne drove down the court and made a jumper from inside the free-throw line, tying the game at 80 with 5.7 seconds left. In the last possession of regulation, Weiner found himself open for a sideline three-pointer but the shot fell short, sending the game to overtime.
With the score tied 86-86 in overtime, Johnson hit two more free throws to give the Gauchos the lead. At 89-86, the Aggies called a timeout and drew up a play for Payne, who drove into the lane for a shot that Johnson swatted away.
“I [saw] him coming and he looked like he was going off balance, [so I knew] I’m not taking a charge right here, I’m going for the block,” Johnson said. “I felt like Greg Somogyi.”
UCSB heads to UC Riverside this Thursday to take on the Highlanders and to UC Irvine this Saturday in a matchup against the Anteaters.