Gauchos Use Second Half Surge to Top CSUN, 74-61

Michael Bryson (Photo by Tony Mastres)
Michael Bryson (Photo by Tony Mastres)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – UC Santa Barbara started the second half with a 14-0 run to turn a 32-31 halftime deficit into a 45-32 lead en route to a 74-61 win over visiting Cal State Northridge on Saturday afternoon.

With the win, the Gauchos (8-10 overall, 2-3 in the Big West) ended a two-game losing streak while the Matadors (7-13, 2-4) have now dropped three of their last four contests. 

"This was crucial for us," said UCSB head coach Bob Williams. "We had to take care of business at home this time. We've lost a few here this year and it was very important for us to protect our home court tonight." 

Michael Bryson, who finished with a team-high 19 points, started the 14-0 run with a three-point basket and finished it with a mid-range jumper. In between Bryson's baskets Sam Beeler had a lay-up and a dunk, Gabe Vincent had a dunk and Maxwell Kupchak hit a three-pointer.

"I thought Maxwell's three to extend the lead from eight to 11 was huge," Williams said. "After giving up the lead in the first half the start of the second half was very important and it was good to be able to look at the scoreboard and see a double-digit." 

The Gauchos led 27-17 with 7:50 left in the first half before going cold. Northridge finished the half on a 15-4 surge to take the 32-31 lead at the break. 

The Matadors did their best to get back into the game in the second half as well. After Santa Barbara pushed the advantage to 15 on a three-pointer by John Green with 13:47 to play, CSUN started to whittle away. When Kendall Smith knocked down a pair of free throws with 7:36 on the clock the score was 59-54. Smith finished with a game-high 20 points. 

UCSB, however, ran off 10 straight points, the final three on a three-pointer by Eric Childress, to claim an insurmountable 69-54 edge with just over three minutes to play.

"I was very happy at the way we finished tonight," Williams said "Obviously finishing games has been an issue so I was proud of the way our guys ended it tonight."

Vincent and Beeler added 16 and 12 points respectively. Beeler was a perfect 6-for-6 from the field while Vincent added five rebounds and five assists. Childress had five points to go along with a career-high nine assists. As a team, UCSB outshot CSUN 47.5% to 41.3% and also won the rebound battle 40-28. 

Bryson, who added six rebounds to his 19 points, now has 1,355 career points and on Saturday moved past Scott Fisher and into 12th on the school's all-time list.

The Gauchos will hit the road for a pair of games next weekend. They travel to Long Beach State on Thursday, Jan. 28 for a 7:30 p.m. game at the Walter Pyramid and then on Saturday, Jan. 30, they play at UC Irvine at 7:00 p.m.