ANAHEIM, Calif. – Ar'mond Davis scored 19 points, Amadou Sow had 16 points and 11 rebounds, and No. 2 seeded UC Santa Barbara overcame a late six-point deficit to win its quarterfinal game at the Big West Tournament, 71-68 over CSUN on Thursday afternoon at Honda Center.
UCSB (22-9 overall) trailed the Matadors (13-20) 63-57 when Terrell Gomez scored on a fast break layup with 5:06 left in the game, but a three-pointer by JaQuori McLaughlin cut the lead in half, 63-60.
A floater by Gomez from the elbow extended the lead back to 65-60, but Davis answered with a three-pointer to pull the Gauchos within 65-63 with 3:51 to play. Davis then stole the ball from the Matadors' Lamine Diane and went the distance for a layup, tying the score at 65 with 3:20 to play.
"Ar'mond came up big all night," said Gauchos' head coach Joe Pasternack. "The big three, the steal and the layup, they were all huge for us."
The team's traded misses and turnovers. CSUN's turnover, a bad pass by Gomez, was forced by Davis at the 1:54 mark.
"We knew that some of their passes out to the perimeter could get a little lazy," Davis said. "I was kind of anticipating it."
UCSB got the ball into the hands of Max Heidegger who drove into the lane and was fouled by Cameron Gottfried. He made both free throws to give the lead back to his team, 67-65.
Diane, who finished with game-highs of 22 points and 17 rebounds, got the ball on CSUN's offensive end but his shot was blocked by Robinson Idehen. Devearl Ramsey rebounded the block for the Gauchos and got the ball to Sow, who was fouled by Mahamadou Kaba-Camara with 57 seconds left in the game. He made 1-of-2 free throws to push the lead to 68-65.
After Gomez missed a three-point attempt on the other end, McLaughlin rebounded for the Gauchos and once more got the ball to Sow, who was fouled by Diane and again made 1-of-2 free throws to complete a 9-0 run and give Santa Barbara 69-65 lead with 34 seconds remaining.
Rodney Henderson, Jr., hit a long three with 20 seconds left, cutting the lead to 69-68. UCSB got the ball into Heidegger who was intentionally fouled. He made both free throws with 16 seconds left to give the Gauchos a 71-68 lead.
"We want Max at the free throw line in a close game," Davis said. "He is so confident from the line"
CSUN had one more chance but a long three by Gomez with three seconds left missed and was rebounded by Davis who heaved the ball skyward as time ran out.
UCSB's 9-0 run late in the game was critical, but it also had a 19-0 stretch in the first half that transformed a 14-7 deficit into a 26-14 advantage and helped them claim a 42-34 halftime lead.
McLaughlin added 12 points for the Gauchos and it was his defense on Gomez that also proved key. Gomez, who averages over 20 points per game, had 12 in the first half but just four in the second half to finish with 16. Henderson, Jr., had 15 for CSUN.
UCSB made 7-of-14 three-point attempts and outrebounded the Matadors, 38-35. While Diane had 17 boards to lead his team, Sow had 11 for the Gauchos. Ramsey grabbed six, while Davis, McLaughlin and Heidegger each had five.
Santa Barbara has won five of its last six games and will play Cal State Fullerton, an overtime winner over UC Davis on Thursday in a 9:00 p.m. semifinal game at Honda Center in Anaheim on Friday.