SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Leland King II tied his season-high with 25 points and added a career-high 17 rebounds to lead UC Santa Barbara to its sixth consecutive win, 75-51 over visiting Cal State Northridge on Saturday night.
The Gauchos (18-5 overall, 7-2 Big West), who set a school record by going 11-0 at home to open the season, remain tied with UC Davis, a double-overtime winner over Long Beach State on Saturday evening, for first-place in the Big West Conference. UCSB was playing without its starting center, Jalen Canty, who has been suspended indefinitely for a violation of team rules.
The Matadors (5-17, 2-7) were close at 49-43 with 10:42 to play before a decisive 19-1 run by UCSB blew the game open in the second half.
Back-to-back baskets by King opened the rally. A thunderous slam dunk on a follow by Ami Lakoju, back-to-back jumpers by Marcus Jackson, and then consecutive three-point baskets by King, Max Heidegger and Marcus Jackson closed the stretch. CSUN's only point during the rally was a free throw by Jonathan Guevara.
"That run was all because of our defense," said head coach Joe Pasternack. "We did a great job defensively tonight, especially in the second half, and that was the difference."
Northridge finished the game making just 19-of-58 field goal attempts, 32.8%. It was the lowest percentage shot by a Gaucho opponent this season.
"We take pride in our defense," Lakoju said. "We understand that we have to pick up the slack and try to help make a difference with Jalen out."
Lakoju did make a difference. He had his best game of the season wit 10 points, eight rebounds and a career-high three blocked shots. He hit 4-of-6 shots from the field.
"Ami was really good tonight," Paternack said. "He stepped-up and did what we needed him to do. I'm really proud of him."
Another player who answered the bell in Canty's absence was Jarriesse Blackmon, who finished with eight points, six rebounds and two blocked shots in 18 minutes. Christian Terrell was scoreless in his 24 minutes, but he had six assists, four rebounds, two steals and no turnovers.
"I thought that our bench was pretty special tonight," Pasternack said. "Ami was great, and then you get Jarriesse and Christian doing what they did. You know, we have 18 assists and just 10 turnovers. Brandon Davis and Christian (Terrell) have eight assists and no turnovers. That's a big deal. That's what we want."
King's 25-points tied his most as a Gaucho, but three others were in double-figures. Heidegger had 14, including 4-of-7 from three-point range, Marcus Jackson added 12, to go along with four assists and six rebounds.
UCSB finished at 46.2% for the game as compared to the 32.8% mark by CSUN. The Gauchos also dominated the boards with a 49-32 advantage.
In a one-game week, the Gauchos will travel to UC Davis on Thursday, Feb. 8 for a 7:00 p.m. game. They will also travel to Long Beach State on Thursday, Feb. 15 before returning home to host UC Davis in a 2:00 p.m. game on Saturday, Feb. 17.