March 3, 2007
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Alex Harris capped his Big West Conference scoring championship with 25 points on Saturday to lead UC Santa Barbara to its third straight basketball win, 75-59 over visiting Cal State Northridge, in its regular-season finale.
The Gauchos (18-10, 9-5 Big West Conference) finished in a three-way tie for second place in league play but will go into next week's conference tournament in Anaheim as the No. 4 seed. UCSB will receive a first round bye in the tourney and will play its first game on Thursday night.
"I am proud of the way this team finished the regular season," said Gaucho head coach Bob Williams. "To finish in a tie for second is a very nice accomplishment.
The Matadors (14-16, 5-9) fell behind by as many 18 points before rallying to within 59-51 behind Calvin Chitwood's 21 points. But Harris, who will enter the post-season with a 21.0-point average, halted Northridge's run with a 3-pointer while scoring nine points in the final 5:46.
Senior Cecil Brown, playing his final game at the Thunderdome, scored eight straight points to give UCSB a 12-7 lead early in the first half. He finished with 15 points and he tied his career-high with six assists while Chris Devine added 16 points for the Gauchos, who shot 52.1 percent. Glenn Turner, also playing his final home game, had six points, seven rebounds and three blocked shots.
Thomas Shewmake had 14 points and nine rebounds for Northridge, which shot just 33.9 percent.
"In the last three games, I think we have really taken our game up a notch on the defensive end," Williams said. "I feel good about going into the tournament the way we are playing."
The 18 wins equals the second highest total that a Williams-led UCSB team has recorded.