GAMES NOTES: With the regular season winding to a close the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos and the Cal State Northridge Matadors will meet up in a key Big West Conference battle at the Matadome on Saturday night.
Both of these teams are battling for the eighth and final spot in the Big West Tournament with just a few games left on the schedule.
UC Santa Barbara hasn't exactly helped itself down the stretch with losses in four straight and nine of its last 10 games. The Gauchos are now just 8-19 overall and 4-11 in league play which has them a half game up on the Matadors for that eighth seed. UCSB is just 2-13 away from home this season but will close out the regular season with consecutive home games against Cal State Fullerton and UC Riverside.
Cal State Northridge has also been making its quest for a postseason berth rather difficult with losses in five straight battles. The Matadors have a much better overall record (13-16) as compared to the Gauchos but at 4-12 still trail them for the final slot in the Big West Tournament. Cal State Northridge has been mediocre at the Matadome (5-6) where they will finish up the regular season next Thursday against Hawaii.
The Matadors grabbed a 75-69 victory when these teams met in late January. Stephen Maxwell posted a 27-point, 14-rebound double-double and Stephan Hicks poured in 24 points as the Matadors pulled closer in the all-time series which they trail, 29-16.
With less than nine minutes left the Gauchos held an eight-point advantage against Hawaii. However from there the Gauchos let the Rainbow Warriors rip off a 19-6 run to pull ahead for the win. UCSB shot just 39.5 percent from the floor in the contest but did knock in 12 shots from beyond the arc.
Kyle Boswell (13.2 ppg) had himself quite a game in the loss to Hawaii. The Gauchos' second leading scorer dumped in 27 points, while nailing five shots from 3-point range in the victory. Boswell had missed the previous two games and failed to score in double figures in the two games prior to that absence. The versatile Alan Williams (16.8 ppg, 10.2 rpg, 2.2 bpg) is the leading scorer and rebounder for the Gauchos as well as the top player on the glass in the conference. Williams is the only player in the league averaging a double- double on the season and his work in protecting the rim has also been strong. Taran Brown (11.5 ppg) shoots just 36.2 percent from the field but is the only other players on the team scoring more than 7.5 points per game.
Cal State Northridge was blow out 81-61 by Cal Poly in its bout on Thursday night. The Matadors shot nearly 25 percent less than the Mustangs, while being doubled up on points from beyond the arc (36-18). The Matadors were also outscored 21-10 in points off turnovers.
Struggling on the defensive end of the floor is nothing new for Cal State Northridge. The Matadors are letting teams hit on 46.8 percent of their shots from the field while scoring 74.2 points per game. That has taken away from the Matadors' own offensive successes as they are second in the Big West in both points (74.9 pg) and assists (15.2 pg) with each of those marks among the 35 best in the country. Hicks (16.4 ppg, 7.3 rpg) and Maxwell (14.7 ppg 8.1 rpg) are quite the duo both in scoring and rebounding. Josh Greene (13.3 pg, 3.7 apg) shoots just 37.4 percent from the floor, but leads the team in assists and is coming off a team-high 19 points against Cal Poly.
There is certainly talent on both sides in this matchup Boswell and Williams are a fearsome twosome for the Gauchos as are Hicks and Maxwell for the Matadors. Expect the Matadors' duo to get the upper hand this time around.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Cal State Northridge 76, UC Santa Barbara 70
03/02 10:34:15 ET
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