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BIG WEST

Matador Losing Streak Hits Six

January 17, 2003|Paul McLeod, Rob Fernas | From Staff Reports

UC Santa Barbara's front court of forwards Mark Hull and Branduinn Fullove and center Casey Cook proved more than Cal State Northridge could handle Thursday night.

Hull scored a game-high 16 points, Fullove had 15 points and seven rebounds, and Cook had 14 points and seven rebounds to lead the Gauchos to a 77-59 victory in a Big West Conference game in front of 1,954 at the Thunderdome in Goleta.

Santa Barbara, which improved to 6-9 overall and 3-2 in the conference, took a 16-point lead after shooting 60.9% in the first half, and extended the margin to as many as 29 in the second half.

It was the sixth consecutive loss for Northridge (6-8, 0-4). The Matadors never recovered from a rocky stretch early in the game and were hurt by 18 turnovers.

"We didn't play hard like we should have," Northridge forward Lionel Benjamin said. "We didn't fight."

Santa Barbara Coach Bob Williams was pleased with the way his team took control after falling behind, 8-4.

"We came out shooting the ball really well and we came out defending," Williams said. "They jumped on us early. Once we got ourselves focused, we were fine."

The Gauchos quickly erased their early deficit with an 18-3 run to take a 22-11 lead. Hull scored eight points during the stretch, including two three-point baskets. The senior, who finished three of six from three-point range, has made 24 of his last 45 three-point shots.

Cook, a sophomore, also has been on a shooting tear. He made his first five shots Thursday and finished five of six from the field. In his last three games, he has made 11 of 14 shots. "The team is getting more confidence in me, knowing I'm going to take good shots," Cook said.

Santa Barbara took a 39-23 halftime lead as Hull, Fullove and Cook combined for 28 points on 10-for-14 shooting.

Northridge struggled to get shots and was hurt by 10 first-half turnovers. It only got worse in the second half for the Matadors, who fell behind, 56-27, after point guard Jacoby Atako made consecutive baskets to cap a 12-0 Santa Barbara run with 14:45 left.

"It was kind of shocking," Benjamin said. "But it was probably due to our defense. We didn't play good defense."

Northridge managed to pull within 59-46 with six minutes left, but Santa Barbara made its free throws down the stretch to stay in command. The Gauchos made 26 of 35 free throws, with Fullove making all nine of his attempts. Guard Joseph Frazier led Northridge with 15 points.

-- Rob Fernas

*

Long Beach State 59, Idaho 55 -- The 49ers finally gave first-year Coach Larry Reynolds something to celebrate by ending a 10-game losing streak at the Pyramid.

Tony Darden scored 17 points and Kevin Roberts had 13 for Long Beach (2-11, 1-3), which last defeated a Division I team Feb. 28 in an 86-70 victory over UC Irvine. The 49ers defeated NAIA Cal State Monterey Bay in their home opener.

Dwayne Williams led Idaho (6-8, 2-3) with 14 points.

"I try to get the team to execute," Reynolds said. "I thought we had our moments of disarray tonight, but we also played well at the end."

The 49ers got off to a good enough start. They led 22-15 with eight minutes left in the first half after a basket by guard Cody Pearson, but Idaho rebounded for a 31-29 halftime lead.

The Vandals made only one of their first 10 shots and had four turnovers to start the second half.

When Idaho Coach Leonard Perry was whistled for a technical foul after Long Beach's Tony Darden was fouled by Justin Logan, Darden made one of the two technical shots and both free throws to give the 49ers their biggest lead, 44-36, with 8:42 left.

Idaho got within two points three times in the last three minutes, including at 57-55 when Ronnie Smith made two of three free throws with 19.5 seconds left.

Long Beach had a turnover on the ensuing inbounds pass, but Idaho's Logan missed a three-pointer.

Two free throws by Vance Lawhorn with 13 seconds left gave Long Beach a four-point cushion and Idaho missed two three-pointers as the clock ran out.

Paul McLeod

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