Matadors Rally Past Gauchos, 75-69

Sam Beeler (Photo by Vince Agapito)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Stephen Maxwell had 27 points and 14 rebounds, and Stephan Hicks added 24 points to lead visiting Cal State Northridge to a come-from-behind 75-69 win over UC Santa Barbara on Thursday night.  

The win was the Matadors (10-10 overall, 1-7 in the Big West) first in Big West Conference play this season. UCSB (7-11 overall, 3-4 in the Big West) played the game without its leading scorer and rebounder, forward Alan Williams, who sat the game out with a leg injury. 

Northridge trailed by as many as eight points in the second half, and was still behind 59-52 with just over nine minutes to play, but the Gauchos turned the ball over on seven straight possessions, leading to a 13-0 run by the Matadors, giving them a 65-59 lead. Hicks had eight points and two steals during the rally, Maxwell had the other five points and a steal. 

"When we were up in the second half, we had too many possessions where we took quick shots and didn't really take advantage of our opportunities," said UCSB head coach Bob Williams.  "Then we went seven straight times down the court without even attempting a shot.  You just can't win when you do that." 

The Gauchos pulled to within two in the final minutes, but could never get the score even. 

"Give them credit," Williams said of the Matadors.  "They came in without a win in conference and then fell behind in the second half.  Bobby (Braswell) has worked very hard to keep his young team's heads up and that's one of the reasons they were able to come back." 

A couple other reasons were 19 offensive rebounds in the game and 13 second half turnovers by UCSB. 

The Gauchos trailed by as many as 11 points (21-10) in the first half before battling back to pull within 37-33 at halftime.  They then used a 23-9 advantage at the outset of the second half to seize a 56-48 lead with 11:04 left in the game, but then things fell apart.

Santa Barbara was led by freshman Taran Brown who had 16 points and eight rebounds.  Kyle Boswell scored 15 before fouling out and freshman Sam Beeler added a career-high 15, making all five of his field goal attempts.  The Matadors won the rebounding battle, 43-31, and outscored the Gauchos from the free throw line, 23-9. 

UCSB returns to action on Saturday, Jan. 26 when it hosts Hawai'i in a 4:00 p.m. game at the Thunderdome.  The game was originally scheduled for 7:00 p.m., but was moved to the earlier time to accommodate Fox Sports Prime Ticket, which will televise the game. 

Tickets for Saturday's game, and all Gaucho games, can be purchased by dropping by the Ticket Office in the Intercollegiate Athletics Building on campus, by calling 805-893-UCSB (8272) or online by clicking here.