Strong Second Half Propels Matadors to First Road Win, 73-70 at Pepperdine

Final Stats (PDF)

MALIBU, Calif. - Freshman Stephan Hicks led four Northridge scorers in double figures with a game-high 18 points as Cal State Northridge posted its first road win of the 2011-12 season with a 73-70 victory over Pepperdine Saturday at Firestone Fieldhouse.

The Matadors (2-6), who have now won four straight over the Waves, snap a three-game losing streak and win on the road for the first time in six games this season.

The game itself turned out to be a tale of two halves as the Matadors scored 49 second-half points after scoring 24 in the opening frame. Northridge also doubled up its shooting percentage in the second half as the Matadors hit on nearly 62% of their shots compared to just 30.4% in the opening half.

"This was a great win for us tonight," said Matador head coach Bobby Braswell. "We opened the second-half with a 13-4 run and we really did it with our defense. We did it in a non-traditional way for us, we went very small with four guards and one forward. We said we were going to get after these guys and we really stepped up and played with a lot of heart and tenacity."

After trailing by as many as 12 points (26-14) in the opening-half, the Matadors began to whittle away at the Pepperdine lead and Hicks scored the final four points of the half to send Northridge into the break down by just six at 30-24.

After connecting on just 7-of-23 shots from the floor in the half, the Matadors took care of the ball in the second half and it paid off with quality shots. The aforementioned 13-4 run quickly, capped by a Josh Greene three-pointer, quickly wiped out the Waves halftime lead putting Northridge ahead to stay 37-34 with 15:31 on the clock.

Despite the Waves tying the score three times over the next four minutes, the final time at 42-42, the Matadors held off each Pepperdine challenge and eventually built the lead to nine following three free throws by Aqeel Quinn with 8:25 left. A Quinn jumper gave Northridge its largest lead of the night at 62-51 before the Waves mounted a late run, getting within four at 68-64 with 33 seconds left.

But free throws down the stretch, the Matadors converted 26-of-33 from the line in the game, sealed Northridge's first road triumph of the season.

Hicks wound up 4-for-10 from the floor and 10-for-12 from the line for his game-high 18 points. Quinn added 17 points and three assists without a turnover while Greene chipped in 15 and Vinnie McGhee added 10. The Matadors were an efficient 7-for-17 from beyond the arc (41.2%) and committed just seven turnovers.

Four Pepperdine players also finished in double figures as Joshua Lowery poured in a team-high 17, including three three-pointers. Taylor Darby added 15 points on 7-for-10 shooting in the loss.

Cal State Northridge returns home to host Pacifica College in a non-conference game next Saturday, Dec. 17. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.