Two nights after junior forward James Nunnally hit a floater at the buzzer to beat conference rival Cal Poly on the road, the UCSB men’s basketball team lost its second Big West home game of the season by a score of 70-69 to conference foe Cal State Northridge — but almost managed to come back from a five-point deficit with 13.2 seconds left.
[media-credit id=16616 align=”alignleft” width=”250″][/media-credit]“Games like these are just killing us, man,” junior guard Orlando Johnson said. “We weren’t there for 40 minutes tonight. [But we’ve] just got to keep on fighting.”
Johnson led all scorers with 28 points on the night, hitting 14 of his 15 free throw attempts. With the win, CSUN improved to 5-3 in conference play and UCSB dropped to 4-4 with an 11-8 overall record.
With his team down by five with 13.2 seconds remaining, UCSB senior guard Jordan Weiner hit a three-pointer from NBA range at the top of the perimeter to bring the score to 68-66. The team’s full-court pressure caused the Matadors’ Lenny Daniel to lose the ball on the baseline, giving UCSB possession with 11.1 seconds remaining.
After a Gaucho timeout, Northridge’s defense clogged the lane after the Gauchos’ inbound pass and Nunnally found himself open for a sideline three-pointer. Shooting 0-6 behind the arc on the night, Nunnally hesitated and drove to the basket in an attempt to draw the foul but settled for a baseline runner that rolled around the rim and missed. The Gauchos then grabbed the offensive rebound, giving themselves one more chance to score with 7.2 seconds remaining. Instead, the Matadors intercepted the inbounds pass and forced the Gauchos to foul.
CSUN’s Rashaun McLemore hit two free throws to put the Matadors up by four points, securing the win in spite of a buzzer-beating three pointer by Gaucho junior guard Orlando Johnson.
McLemore led the Matadors with 26. CSUN hit nine of its 20 shot attempts from behind the arc. Many of the three-point attempts were uncontested — a credit to the Matadors’ ball rotation but also indicative of the Gauchos’ troubles as of late covering perimeter-shooting teams within their zone defense. Although UCSB won the game on Thursday, Cal Poly still hit 13 of its 26 three-point attempts against the Gauchos.
UCSB continues its three-game homestand against Pacific on Feb. 3 at 8:30 p.m. In their last meeting, Pacific beat UCSB 57-54 in Stockton.