In the opening round of the Big West Tournament, the UCSB men’s basketball team held off a skillful CSUN Matadors squad with a 71-68 win and will move on to live to see another day of the tournament.
Ar’mond Davis led Gaucho scorers with 19 points on 7-13 field goals while shooting 3-5 from deep with five rebounds with two steals and two blocks to put the win away in crunch time for UCSB.
All five Gaucho starters had five or more rebounds to account for 34 of the 38 rebounds that UCSB corralled in the matchup.
“At the end of the day, we’re 17-4, we out-rebound our opponents and we out-rebounded them today,” Head Coach Joe Pasternack explained postgame.
In the post, Amadou Sow posted 16 points and 11 rebounds for his fourth double-double of the season. Sow produced from the line for the majority of his points with a 7-8 clip on free throws.
With four field goals in the Thursday afternoon contest, Sow added onto his already record-breaking freshman point total and also became the leader in single-season field goals by a Gaucho freshman.
CSUN has relied on concentrated scoring all year, but the ‘Dors moved the ball around well with three players in double figures.
Big West Conference Player of the Year Lamine Diane scored 22 points but was held to just 36 percent on field goals in his first career playoff game. Diane added 17 rebounds, seven blocks and three steals in the loss.
The Matadors opened up on a 7-2 stretch as Diane bullied his way into the paint early, but the Gauchos powered back with an impressive run of their own.
UCSB capitalized on a 19-0 run to take a 28-14 lead with 8:45 left in the first as the ‘Chos distributed the ball well to take control with six UCSB players getting into the scoring action during the momentum.
First team Big West All-Conference honoree Terrell Gomez caught fire with eight of his 12 first half points in the final four-minute frame heading into the break to cut the lead to 42-34 after one.
The key for SB’s big first was scrapping Diane who had just eight at the break on 3-9 shooting. The freshman often tallies double digits in the blink of an eye, so keeping him honest through one was huge for UCSB’s confidence heading into the second.
“I thought our guys really positioned themselves well so wherever [Diane] went, he had a guy on each side of him,” Coach Pasternack said. “We’ve been dialed in for the past three days on clogging the gaps and I thought we gave him a hard time tonight.”
Diane woke up in the second for his monster night on the glass. Believe it or not, the 6-foot-7 forward’s 17 rebounds was just his fourth-best rebounding performance in his freshman campaign.
The bull riders took a 58-55 lead with 7:13 left in the second when Rodney Henderson Jr. delivered a double-take dagger from beyond the arc which seemingly shifted momentum once it sunk.
“We divide the game into 10 four-minute segments,” Pasternack added. “It’s not about the scoreboard, it’s about winning that war, and that’s what we were focused on doing.”
Northridge held the advantage until Ar’mond Davis roared back with a five-point tear of his own to tie it up at 65 a piece with just over three minutes left.
From there, it was a battle of the free throws as UCSB’s final six came from the stripe.
The Gauchos survive another day and will face Cal State Fullerton at 9 p.m. in the Honda Center on Friday, March 15 in the second round in a meeting between the Big West’s two and three seeds.