Second-seeded UCSB held on for a 71-68 win over Cal State Northridge in the quarterfinals of the Big West men’s basketball tournament on Thursday at the Honda Center in Anaheim.
Max Heidegger made two free throws with 16 seconds left to give the Gauchos a three-point lead. The Matadors got the ball to Terrell Gomez for a three pointer with three seconds to go, but he couldn’t convert and Ar’Mond Davis grabbed the rebound as time expired.
It’s the fourth straight tournament quarterfinal win for the Gauchos, who will play Cal State Fullerton in the semifinals on Friday at 9 p.m.
Davis led UCSB with 19 points on 7 of 13 shooting, including 3 of 5 on three-pointers. JaQuori McLaughlin had 12 points and freshman big man Amadou Sow recorded a double-double of 16 points and 11 rebounds.
Lamine Diane had 22 points and Gomez scored 16 for Northridge.
The Gauchos, which trailed 61-55 after a Diane second-chance layup with 5:59 to go, managed to win without making a field goal in the last 3:20. Their last basket was a driving layup by Davis after he forced turnover. That tied the score at 65-65.
“Ar’mond came up big all night,” said Gauchos’ head coach Joe Pasternack. “The big three, the steal and the layup, they were all huge for us.”
The team’s traded misses and turnovers. CSUN’s turnover, a bad pass by Gomez, was forced by Davis at the 1:54 mark.
“We knew that some of their passes out to the perimeter could get a little lazy,” Davis said. “I was kind of anticipating it.”
The Matadors fouled Heidegger with 1:37 left. He made both free throws for a 67-65 lead.
Idehen Robinson blocked Diane’s shot with 1:23 to go and Sow was fouled at the other end. He knocked down one of two from the line, putting UCSB up by three, 68-65.
McLaughlin grabbed the rebound of a missed three-point shot by Northridge, and the Matadors fouled Sow again.
The freshman made the first and missed the second free throw, leaving the Gauchos up by four, 69-65 with 34 seconds to go.
The Matadors cut the lead to one on a three-pointer by Rodney Harrison with 20 seconds left and called timeout.
They fouled Heidegger in the back court and he made both free throws for a 71-68 lead with 16 seconds left to go.
“We want Max at the free throw line in a close game,” Davis said. “He is so confident from the line”
Gomez missed his trey under pressure and the Gauchos celebrated the opportunity to extend their season.