The UCSB men’s basketball team stayed in sole possession of first place this weekend, winning at Cal State Northridge 67-58 on Saturday night.
Branduinn Fullove, back from a concussion he sustained at Pacific on Thursday night, came off the bench to score a game-high 19 points along with six rebounds to pace the Gauchos in the victory. Mark Hull contributed 13 points and Nick Jones added 11 as UCSB won their fourth game in a row.
After conceding an opening three-point basket to the Matadors, Santa Barbara went on a 16-6 run, capped off by a Fullove jumper from the left elbow. Northridge responded with a 12-1 run, to take a 21-17 lead with 4:33 to go in the half.
The Gauchos rallied back behind the offensive prowess of freshman guard Josh Davis and Fullove. Davis ended the Matador rally when he was fouled making a layup at 4:12. Davis hit the ensuing free throw as the Gauchos crept to within one. A Fullove three put the Gauchos back ahead with 2:07 to go in the first half. Northridge and Santa Barbara traded baskets as they went into the half tied at 27.
Fullove, Hull and freshman guard Cecil Brown led Santa Barbara out of the break. Hull, who scored only two points in the first half, started the scoring in the second half with a turnaround jumper just outside the key. After a Matador basket, Fullove made two baskets and Brown added baseline basket, giving the Gauchos a six-point lead at 35-29. The Matadors would cut it to 35-34 on sophomore guard Joseph Frazier’s layup at the 14:08 mark, but a Hull three-pointer from 25 feet out put UCSB up by four and ended the Matador threat.
CSUN got within two points of the Gauchos one more time in the second half, but would get no closer. Santa Barbara held leads as big as 12 points down the stretch, before finally settling for a nine point win.
Sophomore forwards Ian Boylan and Chris Davis both led the Matadors in scoring with 14 points and Davis also added a game high 10 rebounds. Northridge held the advantage in rebounding 37-32, but was out-shot in the game 47.7 percent to 37.3, to go along with a porous 50 percent shooting from the free throw line. Northridge is now the third-straight opponent the Gauchos have held to under 40 percent shooting from the field. After defeating CSUN 77-59 at the Thunderdome on Jan. 16, the Gauchos completed the season sweep on Saturday night. The Matadors now drop to 10-12 overall and 4-8 in the Big West.
The Gauchos (13-10, 10-3 in the Big West) have now won eight of their last nine games, and are a season-high three games above .500. UCSB remains a full game ahead of Irvine and Utah State as they head to Cal Poly this Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at Mott Gymnasium.
– Nexus staff report