The UCSB men’s basketball team dropped their last road game of the regular season last night 57-62 to Northridge. The Gauchos (12-14, 5-8 Big West), who have posted a 3-10 road record this season, shot just 37.5 percent from the field and gave up 26 turnovers.
“We did not perform very well,” Head Coach Bob Williams said. “We didn’t meet the challenge, we didn’t respond to the pressure, and it shows in the final score.”
Santa Barbara had won their previous four games, all at home, and averaged just under 70 points per game during that stretch five points above their season average.
In the first half, UCSB played the game they expect to play, taking a 29-23 lead into the half after shooting 47.4 percent and nabbing 18 fast break points and nine off turnovers. In the second half, their shooting plummeted to 31 percent, and the Matadors (13-12, 9-4) took a 39-28 advantage in the second period to stretch out the win.
“The first half we were pretty good defensively,” Williams said. “[In] the second half our transition defense wasn’t good at all. They hurt us in transition; they hurt us in the second half in transition. We didn’t make shots, and then we didn’t get our rear ends back on defense.”
Conversely, the Gauchos had 11 more turnovers than their average, and their nine assists versus the Matadors were three under what they expect a night. All in all, their assists to turnovers ratio was an abysmal 0.35-to-1. Williams said that his team simply could not drop shots against the Northridge defense in the second period.
“We didn’t handle the zone well at all, our shot selection in the second half against the zone [was] very poor,” Williams said. “You’ve got to make shots. Assists come when guys make shots.”
Senior forward Chris Devine, who has led Santa Barbara by scoring at least 20 points in the last three games, went 3-5 on the night, and hit all three of his attempts inside the arc. Still, he was limited to only nine points on the night, and his five rebounds were negated by five turnovers. In total, five SB players had at least three turnovers in the match. Williams said that, despite shooting the ball marginally, his team was killed by losing the ball.
“Even at that [shooting] percentage, if you don’t turn the ball over 26 times, you still have a good shot at winning the game,” Williams said. “The mindset [of UCSB], the toughness, our confidence with the ball, every thing about mentality was not what we want to bring to the court. There’s no excuse to turn over the ball that many times.”
While UCSB hit 16 of their 20 free throws, fouls hurt them immensely, with Northridge converting 27 of their 37 chances. Williams said that, considering the Gauchos have not given up that many trips to the charity stripe this year, that stat line is probably the most telling in the game.
“The game went to the more aggressive team,” Williams said. “They drove the lane harder and attacked our defense with much more intensity. That’s really an indicative stat.”