There was a definite “win-win” feeling on both sides of the Thunderdome after the UCSB Gauchos needed a big push in the last 15 minutes to top Westmont College by a score of 82-61 in a men’s basketball game last Friday night.
T.J. Lipold made a triumphant, fist-pumping gesture to the Westmont fans when his three-point basket early in the second half gave the Warriors a 39-33 lead. By then, the visitors from the small college in the Montecito hills had proved they were a worthy opponent of the big-time Gauchos, even if they did not understand the imposition of time-outs for no apparent reason.
“I asked the ref who called time-out,” said Jordan Sachs. “He said it was the media. I didn’t know what that meant.” What it meant was that the NCAA prescribes time-outs every four minutes in Division 1 games to ensure that sponsors get guaranteed radio and TV slots. Westmont plays all its other games in lower divisions and the NAIA, where there is a quaint notion that time-outs are called by the participating teams for tactical reasons.
Bob Williams chose not to call time-out when his Gauchos fell behind by six points. The coach’s message was: “You figure it out.” He was pleased with their response. They shook off negative feelings and forcefully changed the flow of the game. Soon it was Kyle Boswell raising his fist after he buried a three-pointer to put UCSB ahead, 51-45. Moments later, Gaucho star Orlando Johnson scraped a loose ball out of a pile of players under the Westmont basket and fed freshman T.J. Taylor, whose acrobatic layup at the other end would have gotten a “10” from Len Goodman.
Johnson wound up with his usual 20 points, many of them coming from his relentless assault on the boards; he pulled down 10 rebounds at the offensive end. James Nunnally, UCSB’s other preseason All-Big West selection, scored 16. The most promising development for the Gauchos was Boswell’s 15 second-half points. Williams said the energetic sophomore will provide the Gauchos a needed scoring threat off the bench.
The high scorer in the game was Sachs, a 6’6” Westmont junior whose mild appearance belied the poise and skill with which he played the game. He dunked on the Gauchos and scorched the nets from outside en route to 25 points. “I tried to put on a brave face,” Sachs said. The somewhat modest crowd of 2,619 was big enough to impress him. “I couldn’t find my girlfriend,” Sachs said.
“We were Warriors tonight,” Westmont coach John Moore said proudly. While UCSB put the result in the win column — the Gauchos are off to a 3-0 start — the game was an exhibition on the Warriors’ schedule. They played a home game in cozy Murchison Gym the very next night, trouncing St. Thomas of Florida, 89-62. It was Moore’s 358th victory as Westmont’s head coach, surpassing the record of 357 by his mentor and predecessor, Chet Kammerer.
Both UCSB and Westmont have compelling matchups in the next week. San Diego State, which almost made it to last season’s NCAA Final Four, will visit the Thunderdome on Saturday night, November 26. Westmont will open its Golden State Athletic Conference schedule on Tuesday, November 29, against Azusa Pacific, the NAIA’s No. 9-ranked team.
WOMEN ON A ROLL: After being named head coach of the UCSB women’s basketball team, Carlene Mitchell was dealt two staggering personal blows in her native Arkansas — the sudden death of her mother in July, and the plane crash that killed her mentor and friend, Oklahoma State coach Kurt Budke, last Thursday — but Mitchell’s courtside demeanor has remained firm, steady, and composed. The Gaucho women came out firing in their first two home games, rolling to a 35-7 lead over St. Mary’s and 31-10 over Loyola Marymount. They sputtered down the stretch against St. Mary’s but held on to win, 61-52. They were more confident against LMU, as Emilie Johnson hit four second-half three-pointers in a 66-49 victory. Mitchell’s Gauchos (2-2) will try to stay undefeated at the Thunderdome tonight (Wed., Nov. 23) when they take on the Washington Huskies.
Westmont’s women ran their record to 5-0 with a 76-71 victory over Lubbock Christian. The Warriors have power in the paint with a pair of 6’2” players, Lisa Peterson and Tugce Canitez, a member of the Turkish national team. Canitez created a stir when she poured in 33 points against USC in an exhibition game. Azusa Pacific’s women will bring the No. 1 NAIA preseason ranking into Murchison Gym next Tuesday for a 5:30 p.m. game preceding the men’s contest.
ON TO OMAHA: A hardy crowd of 1,311 turned out in the wake of a day-long rainstorm Sunday evening to watch UCSB men’s soccer team defeat Providence 3-2 in the Gauchos’ final home match of the year. They move on to the third round of the NCAA men’s tournament on Sunday, November 27, against second-seeded Creighton at Omaha, Nebraska.