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UC Santa Barbara Beats UC Irvine, 67-58


UC Santa Barbara Coach Jerry Pimm says none of the Gauchos have brought up last season's upset loss to UC Irvine in the Big West tournament recently.

For them, the 21-point loss that knocked them out of NCAA tournament contention is best forgotten.

Not so for Irvine. That game was the Anteaters' only real moment of glory in recent years. They remember, and they expected Santa Barbara to be out for revenge Monday night in the Bren Center.

The Gauchos (11-6 overall, 4-5 conference) might not have been bent on revenge, but they got it, defeating the Anteaters, 67-58, before 2,597 in the Bren Center.

It felt a lot better than going into the conference tournament as the top-seeded team, only to lose in the first round.

"It wasn't a happy ending to our season," Pimm recalled.

But with three senior starters gone and six losses already this season, Santa Barbara had more to think about than last year's disappointments.

The Gauchos trailed, 37-29, with 13 1/2 minutes to play, but pulled ahead, 44-43, when Paul Johnson found Ray Kelly open for a jump shot outside.

Irvine (3-12, 1-7) tied the score at 46, but never led again.

Santa Barbara pulled ahead by as many as seven, then held off the Anteaters by making 15 of its final 16 free throws.

Irvine led by 24-21 at halftime as both teams shot under 35%. Santa Barbara was ahead by 17-8 midway through the half, but Irvine scored the next 14 points. It was the sort of thing that usually happens to the Anteaters, not the other way around. They didn't make it easy on themselves, allowing a handful of offensive rebounds.

Johnson scored 18 points and Kelly had 17 for the Gauchos. Irvine was led by Keith Stewart's 16 and Jeff Von Lutzow's 15.

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