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Saturday, November 22, 2003



[ RAINBOW BASKETBALL ]


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RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Hawaii's Paul Jesinskis and UCSB's Bryan Whitehead fought for a rebound in the second half of last night's season opener.


’Bows go down
at home

UC Santa Barbara hands
UH just its third home loss
in the last 34 games


A new-look Hawaii basketball team experienced what has become a rare occurrence in last night's season opener against UC Santa Barbara -- a loss at home.

The Rainbow Warriors dropped just their third game in their last 34 at the Stan Sheriff Center as the Gauchos spoiled UH's regular-season debut with a 57-51 win.

Despite missing two starting guards, including the reigning Big West Player of the Year, UCSB erased a five-point deficit in the second half to pull out the victory in front of 4,473 fans.

"It was a defensive effort for us, we defended and rebounded well," UCSB coach Bob Williams said. "I don't think either of us is a well-oiled machine offensively. That sort of thing happens early in the season."

Sophomore Cecil Brown, one of the replacements in the starting lineup, scored 11 of his 13 points in the second half for the Gauchos to lead the comeback. Point guard Jacoby Atako added 13 points and forward Casey Cook led all scorers with 16 points and grabbed 12 rebounds.

"He was a man out there, an emotional leader," Williams said of Cook.

The Rainbows went cold late in the second half and lost a season opener for the first time since the 2000-01 season. They will have little time to rub away the sting of the loss as they prepare for the EA Sports Maui Invitational, which opens Monday.

Both teams shot 39.6 percent from the field (21 of 53), but it was Hawaii that misfired when it mattered most. The Rainbows went 0-for-9 from the field in a seven-minute span in which UCSB turned a 44-41 deficit into a 51-44 lead.

"We just couldn't hit a shot," UH forward Julian Sensley said. "Defensively we could have picked it up some, but on the offensive end we were just missing open shots that we normally hit."

"We were getting open, we just couldn't knock shots down, that's pretty much it," point guard Jason Carter said.

Phil Martin led UH with 12 points, while Sensley added 10 points and seven rebounds.

The Gauchos, the preseason favorite to win the Big West, opened their season with a win despite missing two senior leaders in guards Branduinn Fullove and Nick Jones. But Brown and Josh Davis bothered the UH shooters with their aggressive play on defense.

Michael Kuebler, who led UH with 18 points in Monday's exhibition win over Brigham Young Hawaii, was held to five points on 2-for-9 shooting.

"They took him out of everything and had a hand in his face all night long," UH coach Riley Wallace said.

Wallace used his bench liberally in the first half and got balanced production from his team as Hawaii took a 25-20 lead into halftime.

In a sign of things to come, the Rainbows missed their first six shots and scored their first points when Cameron Goettsche was called for goaltending on a shot by Paul Jesinskis. UH put its first shot through the hoop on a layup by Martin at the 14:29 mark.

UCSB's 5-0 lead in the first three minutes was the biggest separation either team would get in the half. The Gauchos led 20-18 late in the half, when UH freshman Bobby Nash scored his first collegiate points on a 3-pointer from the right wing to give the Rainbows the lead.

The teams traded the lead five times in the first nine minutes of the second half.

Sensley hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key to give UH a 36-34 lead. He later swooped in to make a one-handed snag of an offensive rebound that the Rainbows converted into a layup by Vaidotas Peciukas.

UH opened up a 42-37 lead with 10:25 left, but UCSB fought back and reclaimed the advantage on a 3-pointer by Joe See that gave the Gauchos a 47-44 lead at the 7:22 mark.

A fallaway jumper by Brown gave UCSB its biggest lead of the game at 51-44 with 3:20 left.

The Rainbows then went cold from the field and trailed 53-46 before Sensley hit a turn-around jumper with 1:05 left.

UCSB then made all six of its free throws in the final 1:15 to keep UH at arm's length the rest of the way.

Off to Maui: The Rainbows leave for Maui this afternoon and open play in the 20th EA Sports Maui Invitational on Monday. They'll play Santa Clara in the first round and either Villanova or Chaminade in the second round on Tuesday.

Monday's game will be televised nationally on ESPN2.

Tickets for tournament games are available at the Lahaina Civic Center box office or by calling 677-DUNK.


UC Santa Barbara 57, Hawaii 51

GAUCHOS (1-0)

fg fga ft fta min reb a tp
Brown 6 17 0 0 35 4 2 13
Davis 0 8 0 0 30 1 1 0
Atako 3 6 7 9 31 4 1 13
Goettsche 1 2 1 2 17 3 2 3
Cook 6 11 4 4 31 12 1 16
See 3 5 0 0 19 1 0 8
Skultety 0 1 0 0 6 1 0 0
Oliver 0 0 0 0 6 0 0 0
Turner 1 1 0 0 6 3 1 2
Whitehead 1 2 0 2 19 4 0 2
Totals 21 53 12 17 200 36 8 57

WARRIORS (0-1)

fg fga ft fta min reb a tp
Martin 6 11 0 1 27 5 0 12
Carter 0 4 2 2 30 5 6 2
Kuebler 2 9 0 2 37 4 3 5
Jesinskis 1 2 0 0 12 0 0 2
Sensley 4 9 1 2 30 7 3 10
Sottos 0 0 0 0 3 0 1 0
Shimonovich 3 6 0 0 20 5 0 6
Lee 0 0 0 0 10 0 2 0
Peciukas 3 4 0 0 15 0 0 6
Nash 2 3 0 0 5 3 0 6
Blackett 0 5 2 2 11 1 1 2
Totals 21 53 5 9 200 31 16 51

Key--fg: field goals; fga: field goals attempted; ft: free throws; fta: free throws attempted; min: minutes; reb: rebounds; a: assists; tp: total points.
Halftime--UCSB 25, Hawaii 20.
3-point goals--UCSB 3-8 (See 2, Brown 1), Hawaii 4-17 (Nash 2, Sensley, Kuebler). Personal fouls--UCSB 15, Hawaii 14. Steals--UCSB 8 (Atako 3, Brown, Davis, Goettsche, Oliver, Whitehead), Hawaii 8 (Lee 3, Carter 2, Kuebler, Jesinskis, Peciukas). Blocked shots--UCSB 3 (Atako, Cook, Turner), Hawaii 3 (Blackett, Kuebler, Jesinskis). Turnovers--UCSB 14 (Atako 7, Davis 2, Cook 2, See 2, Oliver 1), Hawaii 16 (Carter 3, Martin 2, Kuebler 2, Jesinskis 2, Sensley 2, Lee 2, Peciukas 2, Blackett).
A--4,473.


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