After walloping Cal Poly by 19 points Saturday, the Gauchos return to the friendly confines of the Thunderdome tonight at 7 for a date with Big West foe Northridge.
In a statement win against the Mustangs at Mott Gym, the Gauchos (9-5, 3-2 in the Big West) resurrected a once stoic offense into an impressive shooting clinic and smothered the boards on defense.
Welcome back, Santa Barbara.
Although UCSB will still miss its leading scorer and rebounder, junior forward Casey Cook, who sat out the Cal Poly game with a partially torn right quadricep, the Gauchos have some able bodies down in the post to front CSUN. Sophomore forward Cameron Goettsche has scored in double-digits in his last four outings, including a team-high 15 points against Cal Poly. Senior forwards Bryan Whitehead and Bray Skultety have played outstanding defense and have stepped up their offensive production.
“We have enough depth with Casey out of the lineup to play well down [in the post],” UCSB Assistant Coach Marty Wilson said. “[Cook]’s our best scoring big guy so you want him in there and we will miss him.”
Cook will be cleared to play for Saturday’s game against Pacific in Stockton.
Sophomore guard Cecil Brown, who scored 11 first-half points before re-aggravating an ankle injury sustained in the UCLA game, is expected to play tonight.
“[The injury] will probably nag him off and on for the rest of the season,” Wilson said. “When he steps on someone’s foot, it doesn’t allow it to heel all the way.”
The Matadors (6-8, 2-4 in the Big West) will be without three of their contributing reserves for the game tonight against Santa Barbara. Juniors guard Joseph Frazier and forward Chris Davis, the third (12.1 ppg) and fourth (11.1 ppg) leading scorers on the team respectively, and freshman forward Andre Foy have been suspended indefinitely for unspecified team rule violations. The Gauchos are not underestimating their challenge tonight, however.
“Let’s just take care of business, clean up our plate and let everything else fall into place,” Wilson said.
The Gauchos are 4-0 against Northridge in the Matador’s first two years in the Big West. The Matador’s are riding a two-game losing streak, including a 83-57 smashing by Utah State in Logan, Utah noon Jan. 17.