Gauchos Outrebounded by CSUN Again, Fall 62-55 at Home

Onome Jemerigbe (Photo by Eric Isaacs)
Onome Jemerigbe (Photo by Eric Isaacs)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif – UCSB (11-12, 6-4) closed out the second of its three conference homestands on Thursday night, falling 62-55 to Cal State Northridge (12-11, 5-4). Just as they did in their first meeting on Jan. 25, the Matadors enjoyed a huge advantage on the glass, outrebounding the Gauchos 53-36 in the win.

We started and finished the game giving up offensive rebounds," head coach Bonnie Henrickson said. "We gave up offensive rebounds, we weren't great defensively, we turned the ball over. The discipline and the fight just isn't there for us right now."

Santa Barbara struggled with its shot, shooting a little 30 percent as a team for the second straight game. The home side did get another solid performance from point guard Drea Toler though, who grabbed six rebounds and had team-highs of 12 points, six assists and two steals.

"If we can't knock down a three, which we haven't for three games, somebody's got to be able to put it on the floor, get fouled and make a layup," Henrickson said. "Drive it downhill, put your shoulder in somebody's chest and make a play. We can't be standing around like we did tonight."

It was a tale of two halves for CSUN's star players, as junior guard Serafina Maulupe scored 17 of her game-high 22 points in the first half, while sophomore Channon Fluker recorded a double-double with 15 points and 13 rebounds over the final 20 minutes alone. Fluker finished with 17 points and tied a season-high with 20 rebounds overall.

After trailing for most of the first three quarters, the Gauchos found themselves facing their largest deficit of the game down 11 near the end of the third. Their defense helped keep them alive heading into the final stretch, as they held Northridge to just one field goal over the first five minutes of the fourth quarter.

Back-to-back triples from guards Coco Miller and Sarah Porter with less than six minutes cut the lead to 49-47, the closest they had been since the opening moments of the second period. Porter and Miller would finish with ten and seven points, respectively.

From there, it was all Fluker, as she scored 11 of the Matadors' last 13 points over the final 4:50. Northridge outscored the Gauchos 13-8 over that same stretch, with UCSB making just two of its last nine field goal attempts.

Redshirt junior Drew Edelman pulled down a team-high eight rebounds to go along with six points. Senior Onome Jemerigbe added six points and three assists, breaking her out of a tie for No. 5 all-time for assists in program history. Freshman Aliceah Hernandez also added eight points off the bench.

The Gauchos finished just 6-26 from three-point range, marking the 20th time in 23 games that they've made at least five. Out of those 23 games, their .231 three-point percentage was the lowest.

On the Northridge side, Maulupe's game-high 22 points on 8-20 shooting marked the fifth time this season that she's reached the 20-point mark. Her season-high came in the two teams' first meeting, when she once again led all players with 28 points.

Aside from their two standout performances, the Matador's also got great support from senior Emily Cole, who finished 4-4 from the field for ten points, and junior Tessa Boagni, who pulled down 13 rebounds.

It was the third straight game that the Gauchos had a slow start out of the gates, as they trailed 7-0 with 7:05 to go in the opening period. They answered back with an 11-0 run, capped off by two Hernandez jumpers, taking their first lead in the first quarter in the last three games.

Northridge answered with a 16-2 run, 12 points coming from Maulupe, to take its first double-digit lead of the game at 23-13. The Matadors would head into halftime leading 33-25.

UCSB will now head onto the road for four straight games, beginning with Hawai'i on Saturday.