UCSB overcomes turnovers to top Cal State Northridge

Orlando Johnson scored 21 points, James Nunnally added 16 and Greg Somogyi had a career-high 10 rebounds as UC Santa Barbara overcame a 15-0 Cal State Northridge run en route to a 69-61 Big West win on Thursday night in Santa Barbara.

The Matadors (5-11 overall, 2-6 in the Big West) were led by Stephan Hicks with 18 points and Aqeel Quinn tallied 12. UCSB (9-6 overall, 4-1 in the Big West) had to overcome 18 turnovers, one short of a season high.

The Gauchos used a balanced scoring attack to build a 31-18 lead 1:36 left in the first half, but things went downhill from there.

Northridge ended the first half with a 4-0 run and opened the second by outscoring the Gauchos 11-0. The 15-0 surge helped the Matadors transform a 31-18 deficit into a 33-31 lead.

The second half began with three straight Gaucho turnovers which led to the first seven points of the 11-0 second half rally. Vinnie McGhee made a three-pointer while Stephan Hicks scored on a lay-up and a breakaway slam dunk to narrow the lead to 31-29.

After Northridge rebounded a missed three-point attempt by Kyle Boswell, Stephen Maxwell scored on a driving lay-up and was fouled by T.J. Taylor. Maxwell made the free throw and the Matadors had their first lead of the game, 32-31. Following another UCSB turnover, Hicks was fouled going to the basket and made one of two free throws to give his team 33-31 edge, completing the 15-0

“I thought we really went flat and played a little lazy with the ball after going ahead by 13 late in the first half,” said head coach Bob Williams. “Sometimes in this league, you’re not always going to play your best game and your just going to have to win some games like this. I’m happy we won and ultimately, that’s the bottom-line.”

A three-pointer by Keegan Hornbuckle stopped the Matador surge, kick-started a 28-7 Gaucho run that was capped by a resounding rebound and dunk by Somogyi to give UCSB a 57-40 lead with just over six minutes to play.

Santa Barbara never stretched the lead beyond 17 and Northridge rallied back within 65-58 with 1:06 left, but never got any closer.

Johnson scored 15 of his game-high 22 points in the second half, all after the Gauchos fell behind.

Santa Barbara had another outstanding defensive effort as Northridge was held to 33.3% shooting overall and 17.4% from three-point range. The Gauchos made 49.1% of their shots overall.

UCSB hosts Long Beach State on Saturday, Jan. 21 in a rematch of the last two Big West Tournament championship games, both won the Gauchos. The game, which will tip-off at 8:00 p.m. to accommodate ESPNU will be their last home contest ina while as they will play four straight and seven of eight on the road.