January 24, 2013

UCSB Rolls Past Northridge, 56-37

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. – Cal State Northridge may have provided the DJ at the Matadome on Thursday night, but UC Santa Barbara brought the music as it defeated the Matadors, 56-37, keeping a 29-year old win streak in Northridge alive.

With the victory, UCSB improves to 7-11 on the season and to an even 3-3 in Big West Conference play. The win was the Gauchos' 12th straight over the Matadors and 14th-consecutive on the Matadors' home court. 

The Matadors fall to 10-8 overall and 4-3 in league games. The loss marked Northridge's third straight after it opened Big West play with four-straight wins.

After a frenetic start to the first half – which saw five lead changes – the Gauchos commanded the second stanza. The Matadors' 37 points mark the fewest by a UCSB opponent this season and their 20-point second-half output also goes down as the fewest points put up against the Gauchos in the final 20 minutes of a game so far this year.

The Gauchos were led by senior Sweets Underwood, who posted her sixth double-double of the year, tallying 17 points to go along with 11 rebounds. Fellow senior Kirsten Tilleman was not too far off from posting her own double-double; she finished the game with nine points and nine rebounds.

Juniors Nicole Nesbit and Melissa Zornig scored 12 and 10 points, respectively. The latter led the squad with four assists and four steals.

Northridge opened the game swinging as the Matadors scored their first six points on the fastbreak. A lay-up by Violet Alama with 12:53 on the clock pushed their lead to 11-6, but that was as far ahead the Matadors would go as UCSB proceeded to go on a 15-6 run to end the first half ahead, 21-17.

The Gauchos put their foot back on the gas in the second as they opened with an 18-5 run, which put them ahead at 39-22 with 10:35 on the clock. That advantage would build to as many as 20 points twice as UCSB cruised to the 56-37 victory.

The Gauchos' defense limited the Matadors to just 24.5% (13-for-53) shooting from the field during the game and Northridge made just 8-of-19 attempts (42.1%) from the charity stripe. More notably, UCSB was able to hold the Big West's best three-point shooting team to just 14.3%  (3-for-21) shooting from beyond the arc. The Matadors – who on average shoot 34.8% from the three-point range – made just 1-of-12 attempts in the first half.

Northridge's team-leader Ashlee Guay, who averages 13.5 points per game, was limited to just eight points while Marta Masoni – who on average comes up with 13.4 points per game – scored seven.

Offensively, UCSB shot 46.8% from the field (22-for-47) and made 10-of-13 (76.9%) of its free-throw attempts. UCSB out-rebounded the Matadors, 38-32 and had 28 defensive boards. 

The Gauchos will conclude their current three-game Big West road swing on Saturday when they travel to face new conference member Hawaii. The game, which is scheduled for 7 p.m. (9 p.m. Pacific Time) can be heard live on UCSBgauchos.com and viewed on BigWest.tv

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