The UCSB men’s basketball team finished up its regular season with a bang, exploding for 55 points in the final 25 minutes of its 82-76 overtime victory against Cal State Northridge (11-16 overall, 4-10 Big West) on Saturday.
After a dismal showing at Pacific on Thursday, the Gauchos (14-13 overall, 6-8 in the Big West) bounced back for their seventh win in the past 10 games and the fifth of six on the road.
“I just think they hung in there,” UCSB Head Coach Bob Williams said. “I admire the fact that the kids stayed in it. We went 1-10 from three-point range in the first half and 7-11 from there in the second half. That’s the comeback right there.”
After a first half that saw the Gauchos shoot just 34.6 percent from the field and Northridge go 8-11 from three-point range, the Matadors had a 35-27 lead. Lone senior guard Bakari Altheimer led Northridge with 12 points on 4-5 shooting from beyond the arc in the first half.
The Matadors started the second half on fire, going on a 19-9 run to build an 18-point lead with 11:21 remaining in the game. Looking to ignite the Gauchos, Williams brought in freshman guard Lance Hurdle and sophomore forwards Chris Moore and Chidi Ajufo. The three players joined senior guard Joe See and sophomore forward Chris Devine to start a 28-10 run that spanned the final 11 minutes of regulation play.
“The difference was when a couple starters got the opportunity to sit and watch for a couple of minutes, while Lance, Chidi and Chris played their butts off,” Williams said. “Those three really kept us alive and gave us some really good minutes. Their play kind of turned the tide of the game a little bit.”
The completion of a four-point play from sophomore guard Alex Harris with 3:58 left cut the Northridge lead down to six. When UCSB was down two points, with just 15 seconds remaining in the game, Harris snagged the offensive board on a miss and dished it to Devine to tie the game at 64.
In overtime, the Gauchos fed off the momentum they had built at the end of regulation play, hitting 13-14 from the charity stripe while forcing three Matador turnovers to close out the 82-76 win.
Devine scored a career high of 25 points and 14 rebounds on the match for his fourth double-double of the season. See led the Gauchos from outside, with 19 points on 5-8 shooting from beyond the arc. Senior forward Cameron Goettsche and Harris also joined Devine and See in double-digits with 18 and 10, respectively.
“[Devine] was the man wasn’t he?” Williams said. “His confidence level shooting the ball was pretty high tonight. We obviously needed him and I thought he stepped up big.”
The win clinched a fifth-place finish for the Gauchos and the #5 seed in this week’s Big West Tournament. Santa Barbara will kick off the tournament Wednesday against #8 UC Riverside at 6 p.m. at the Anaheim Convention Center.