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Big West Notebook

March 11, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments



Big West Conference Notebook

by Shaan Hassan

All as Planned in Final Week

During the last week of the regular season, few upsets took place which means whatever seeding teams entered the week with, chances are they left with it.

UC Santa Barbara (14-4) won both their games last week to solidify their number-one seed. The Gauchos edged Cal State Fullerton 63-60, March 6. Forward Branduinn Fullove led UCSB with 19 points, while guard Ralphy Holmes led Fullerton (8-10) with 15 points. UCSB also shot 50 percent from behind the arc. Two days later at Riverside (5-13), UCSB had a much easier time with a 70-55 triumph. Fullove again led with 18 points and nine rebounds. No player scored more than 15 for Riverside.

UCI’s lone game of the week came in blowout fashion as they mauled Long Beach State (4-14), 95-60, March 8. Playing in their last home games, forward Jordan Harris and guard Mike Hood combined for 37 points and center Adam Parada added 24 points and 13 rebounds for Irvine (13-5). Forward Tony Darden was the only 49er in double figures as he scored 27 points.

Utah State (12-6) began their successful week with a 69-58 win over CSUN (8-10), March 6. Forward Desmond Penigar and guard Ronnie Ross added 17 points apiece, while the Matadors were led by guard Ian Boylan’s 22 points. The Aggies then finished off a struggling Pacific club with a 75-70 victory, March 8. Guard Mark Brown led the Aggies with 15 points and guard Demetrius Jackson had 14 for Pacific (7-11).

Week Review

Pacific’s loss to Utah State ended a winless week for the Tigers as they fell to Idaho (9-9) two days prior, 60-55. Jackson had 17 points for Pacific and forward Justin Logan led the Vandals with 19 points.

After their three-point loss to UCSB, Fullerton rebounded with an 88-85 overtime win over Cal Poly SLO (10-8). Forward Anthony Bolton scored 24 points for the Titans and center Shane Schilling scored a game-high 32 points to go with seven rebounds for Cal Poly. Prior to that loss, Cal Poly demolished Riverside 86-67, March 6. Forward Varnie Dennis led Cal Poly with 21 points and forward John Galbreath scored 21 points for UCR.

To round off the week, CSUN clashed with Idaho to a double overtime victory of 86-78, March 8. Guard Curtis Slaughter led the Matadors with 26 points and eight rebounds and forward Dwayne Williams scored 28 for the Vandals.

Conference Tournament Preview

With the regular season over, all eight seeds have been decided and here they are: number one UCSB vs. number eight Pacific, number two UCI vs. seven CSUN, number three Utah State vs. number six Fullerton and number four Cal Poly vs. number five Idaho.

In the top half of the bracket, UCSB just edged UCI for the top spot, but shouldn’t have any trouble finishing off a disappointing Pacific team. Cal Poly finished the season strong and should be prepared to face UCSB in the second round. The Gauchos have experience from last year’s championship and will advance to the title game.

In the bottom half of the bracket, Utah State won’t have the comfy confines of Logan, Utah to help them and may struggle against Fullerton. But a win is still nearly certain. UCI will have a battle on their hands against CSUN, but UCI is battle-tested and should advance to face their conference foes, Utah State, in the semis. Three’s a crowd, and UCI has beaten Utah State twice already this season. The Aggies will get their first win.

UCSB and Utah State will then square off for the championship, which should be a gem to watch. UCSB lives and dies by the three-pointer, but that shot may not be there against Utah State’s defense. The Aggies will advance to the NCAA title game.

Big West Dishes Out the Rest

Among the many honors awarded by the conference yesterday, UCSB’s Fullove was named Conference Player of the Year. During the season, Fullove averaged 15.3 points, nearly four rebounds and two assists per game. He also shot 48 percent from the field and 42 percent from behind the arc.

Also, Riverside’s guard Nate Carter earned the Freshman of the Year award by scoring 16.4 points per game to lead UCR, while UCSB’s Head Coach Bob Williams was named Coach of the Year.

The conference also named its All-Big West First team with six members and those included were UCSB’s forward Mark Hull, Utah State’s Penigar, Cal Poly’s guard Varnie Dennis, UCI’s Harris and Fullerton’s Holmes in addition to Fullove.

Fullove’s awards also included Player of the Week honors as he averaged 18.5 points and shot nearly 60 percent for the week in UCSB’s two wins.

     

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