The UCSB Men's basketball team built a 26-point lead in the second half, before Cal. State-Northridge staged a furious rally that just fell short 74 - 69 in favor of the Gauchos (17 - 8, 11 - 3). Orlando Johnsonn led a balanced attack with 19 points, followed by James Powell's 17 points, including some clutch free throws to ice the game. Jaime Serna and James Nunnally chipped in 15 points each. Serna had six rebounds, followed by Nunnally's five boards, while Johnson had a team-high seven assists.
The Matadors (10 - 18, 5 - 8) were led by Kenny Daniels with 23 points, followed by Mark Hill with 12, and Willie Galick with 11. Daniels also had a game-high nine rebounds, while Vinnie McGhee dished out four assists.
The Gauchos built up the formidable lead with good shot selection and crisp passing on offense, while creating numerous Matador turnovers on defense. However, midway through the second half, the Matadors turned the tables on the Gauchos by utilizing a fullcourt press, causing numerous Gaucho turnovers while reducing the deficit to two points. James Powell closed the door on the rally by making key free throws as time expired.
The physical nature of the game caused both teams to play sloppy at times, as the Matadors committed 26 turnovers, and the Gauchos committing 24 of their own. A total of 28 personal fouls were called on the Matadors, with the Gauchos committing 27. But the win enabled the Gauchos to remain in first place in the Big West conference standings heading into Saturday's showdown with Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. The game will be played at Mott Gym on February 27 at 7 pm.