SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Stephen Maxwell's short runner in the lane with less than half a second to play in overtime gave Cal State Northridge a come-from-behind 80-78 win over UC Santa Barbara on Saturday afternoon.
The loss ended the Gauchos (16-7 overall, 7-3 Big West) four-game winning streak. It was the Matadors (13-14 overall, 5-7 Big West) first win at the Thunderdome in four tries.
"We just didn't make the plays tonight," said UCSB head coach Bob Williams. "I'll take credit for this one. I just didn't have the right players in a the right time and we paid the price."
Northridge battled back after trailing 68-61 late in the game. A Maxwell jumper cut it to 68-63 with 1:02 left and a Josh Greene three-pointer whittled it to 68-66 with 38 seconds to play.
After a timeout, Alan Williams, who finished with 22 points, 17 rebounds and four blocked shots, made a pair of free throws to push the advantage back to 70-66 with 25 seconds left. The Matadors responded with another three from Greene to make it 70-69 with 18 seconds on the clock.
Zalmico Harmon, who had a career-high 21 points and added eight assists, was fouled with eight seconds left. He made one of two free throws to give the Gauchos a 71-69 lead, but just seconds later, Northridge's Landon Drew went coast-to-coast for a lay-up, tying the game with less that six seconds to play. An Alan Williams jumper at the buzzer rimmed out and sent the game into the OT.
The lead changed hands five times in the first three minutes of the extra period. UCSB made its final basket and took its final lead on a 15-footer by Harmon with 2:07 remaining. After getting fouled, Maxwell made one-of-two free throws to tie the game with 56 seconds left.
A missed three-pointer by Taran Brown with 30 seconds to play gave the Matadors the final possession that resulted in Maxwell's game-winner.
"We turned the ball over too much and didn't match their intensity," said Alan Williams. "This week, we just have to get back to practice, go hard, and come back on Thursday mentally ready to compete."
UCSB committed 18 turnovers and had a hard time handling Northridge's fullcourt pressure, particularly in the second half and overtime.
"There pressure gave us some problems," Alan Williams said. "We need to work on that because we don't want to get that reputation, that we can't handle pressure."
The Gauchos also had trouble shooting the ball as they made just 36.9% of their field goals overall and 26.9% from three-point range. The Matadors hit just 42.9% overall, but they were 9-of-17 from three-point range, 52.9%. Reserve Ben Vazzola was 5-for-6 from long-distance and finished with 17 points.
In addition to Alan Williams and Harmon, Taran Brown added 12 points, eight rebounds and four blocked shots while Michael Bryson had 10 points before fouling out.
Northridge was led by Greene who made 4-of-8 from three-point distance and had 23 points. Maxwell added 17 points and 12 rebounds. The Matadors had just 10 turnovers in the game and they picked-up nine steals.
The Gauchos remain at home for their next two games. On Thursday, Feb. 20, they will host UC Riverside in a 7:00 p.m. game at the Thunderdome. They defeated the Highlanders in overtime on Jan. 23 in Riverside.