Gauchos Fall to Sizzling CSUN, 74-63

Zalmico Harmon (Photo by Shane Roper)
Zalmico Harmon (Photo by Shane Roper)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Devonte Elliott had 23 points and 12 rebounds to lead red-hot Cal State Northridge to a 74-63 win over UC Santa Barbara on Thursday night.

The Matadors (5-13 overall, 1-2 in Big West) shot a blistering 56.1% from the field overall and made 7-of-10 from three-point range, 70.0%. In addition, they hit 21-of-22 free throws, 95.5%. The Gauchos (8-8, 1-1), meanwhile, made just 41.0% of their shots and were outrebounded 34-23.

"Give them credit, they shot the ball really well tonight," said UCSB head coach Bob Williams. "They are a very good team inside so we went with a zone and they made their shots. When you play a zone you want to make a team beat you from the outside and that's what they did."

CSUN led by as many as nine points in the first half, but the Gauchos cut it to three at the break, 35-32, when Gabe Vincent hit a three-pointer for the last score of the half. The freshman tied his career-high with 15 points before fouling out with about four minutes left in the game.

The teams played back-and-forth early in the second half and UCSB took its first lead of the game on a three-point play by John Green with 15:33 to play. The teams traded baskets for the next few minutes and, trailing 45-44, the Gauchos took their last lead of the game, 46-45, on a leaning jumper by Zalmico Harmon with 11:43 left in the game.

At that point, the Matadors went on a 15-2 run to take a commanding 60-48 lead on a pair of free throws by Aaron Parks with 6:16 on the clock. Ajon Efferson, who finished with nine points, hit a pair of threes during the rally. Stephan Hicks, who had 17, made a three and a pair of free throws.

Santa Barbara rallied to within 66-61 with 3:33 left and Alan Williams had a chance to make it even closer, but missed the front end of a one-and-one free throw situation. Williams, who was a game-time decision as he battled flu-like symptons, finished with a season-low five points and seven rebounds. The seven boards gives him 1,005 for his career. He is the first Gaucho to hit the 1,000 rebound mark and just the sixth player in Big West history to collect 1,000 rebounds and 1,000 points in his career.

CSUN pushed the lead to 13 before settling for the 74-63 win.

Harmon had 11 points and six assists for UCSB. Michael Bryson had eight points and Green added seven.

The Gauchos will travel to Long Beach State on Saturday, Jan. 17 for a 4:00 p.m. game against the 49ers. The game will be aired live on ESPN3.