Mark Hoffman, photos: Sam Zeller
The Colorado State Rams came to Alaska on a mission: to win the Great Alaska Shootout. And despite the best efforts of Alan Williams and the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos, the Rams mission was accomplished on Saturday night.
CSU escaped Alaska with a 65-63 victory in the first Great Alaska Shootout championship game, the first to be held on campus at the new Alaska Airlines Center. A rowdy and excited crowd was treated to an instant classic between the Rams and the Gauchos.
UCSB’s star center Alan Williams was as good as advertised as he followed up his 22 point, 20 rebound performance from last night with a monster 22 points, 12 boards and 4 blocks. Williams was chosen the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player in the losing effort.
In the first half, CSU center J.J. Avila went toe-to-toe with Williams and the big men each finished the half leading their team with 11 points. But in a shocking twist, Avila managed 4 quick fouls in the opening minutes of the second half and had to head to the bench with just over 12 minutes to go.
The rest of the Rams picked up the slack, however, and the game remained neck-and-neck up until the final minute. Facing a 63-60 deficit with 19 seconds to go, UCSB got the ball to John Green who buried a three to tie it up, much to the delight of the raucous crowd.
But, unfortunately for the Gauchos, Michael Bryson was whistled for a reaching foul on the ensuing play as CSU guard Gian Clavell dribbled wildly past the half court line. Clavell sank the free throws with 6 seconds remaining and a last-ditch three from Williams went long as time expired.
Stanton Kidd was one of five Rams in double figures, finishing with 14 points. Avila, Clavell, and John Gillon all had 13 and Daniel Bejarano added 10 for the 2014 Great Alaska Shootout champions.