UC Santa Barbara made the transition from winning in Nevada Las Vegas' 18,500-capacity Thomas and Mack Center to playing Cal State Fullerton before a standing-room only crowd of 3,309 in Titan Gym Saturday night with ease.
The Gauchos, off to the best start in school history, trailed only once, at 2-0, and beat the Titans, 67-55.
Santa Barbara had upset Las Vegas, 62-60, Thursday night, becoming only the third team to beat the Rebels in Thomas and Mack in 51 games there.
This, of course, was not quite the same. Besides its lesser lore, Fullerton also has far less of a team. The Titans are now 4-9 overall and 0-4 in Pacific Coast Athletic Assn. games. Santa Barbara is now 11-1 and 3-0.
"We had to get our heads back into Fullerton in practice," Santa Barbara Coach Jerry Pimm said. "It's a given--you have to be happy to play good after that kind of a game. And we had to stop two of the better players on the West Coast in Richard Morton and Henry Turner."
The Gauchos didn't keep Morton and Turner from scoring, but Fullerton has had so little offense from any other players that it didn't matter that Turner finished with 24 and Morton with 23.
Fullerton managed to keep it closer than would have seemed likely early on.
Santa Barbara pulled out to a 12-point lead with about eight minutes to play in the first half, and it seemed as if it might be the beginning of a blowout.
But with the Gauchos leading, 24-12, Morton broke free for a 20-foot jump shot, cutting the lead to nine. Santa Barbara turned the ball over, and Morton got open again off the same play--a low double-screen designed to allow him to get open for the three-pointer. This one was good, too, and the lead was 24-18.
Fullerton, got the ball back when center Vincent Blow intercepted a pass off the Titans' half-court trap. On the other end, Henry Turner's 18-foot jump shot made it 24-20.
But then the Titans allowed Eric McArthur to score inside off an offensive rebound, making the lead six.
Less than a minute later, McArthur blocked a Fullerton shot, starting a fast break that ended in a layup by Brian Johnson and an eight-point lead for the Gauchos.
At least part of Fullerton's success in that stretch was due to the foul trouble of Brian Shaw, the Gauchos' best defender, who began the game guarding Morton. But after picking up his second foul just three minutes in the game, that job fell more often to Carrick DeHart, and Morton had more success. Had he had a better shooting night than 8 for 23, the Titans might have stayed closer. Morton did make four of nine from three-point range.
Santa Barbara led, 30-23, at halftime and increase the lead to as many as 15 in the second half. Fullerton never got closer than six, on the first basket of the second half.
The Titans had a bit of hope that Santa Barbara might be overconfident.
"We knew they had just beaten UNLV at the Thomas and Mack and were still celebrating the win. We gave it our best shot," Turner said. "We still are confident. . . . If you don't have confidence you have nothing."
DeHart scored 15 points, and four other Santa Barbara players were in double figures.
"Santa Barbara is really on a roll," Fullerton Coach George McQuarn said. "They have a lot different personality than we do right now. They are confident and feeling good about themselves."
Shaw scored only eight points and finished with four fouls, but it made little difference.
"When Shaw was out of the game, their other kids kept the game together," McQuarn said.