Matadors Begin Homestand with 81-68 Loss to Long Beach

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. – Able to remain within striking distance throughout most of the game, Cal State Northridge just could not erase its eight-point halftime deficit, as Long Beach State pulled away in the final minutes of Saturday's game to defeat the Matadors by a score of 81-68.

Josh Greene scored 15 points to lead three Matadors who scored in double figures, Stephan Hicks and Aqeel Quinn each added 12 points.

Hicks has now scored 10 or more points in all 13 games played as a Matador, with Quinn reaching double figures for the fourth time in the last six games.

The Matadors made 23 of their 61 shots (.377), including seven of their 17 attempts from three-point distance (.412). Entering the game with the Big West's highest free throw percentage, CSUN scored on 15 of its 21 (.714) attempts at the line.

CSUN's only lead of the game took place during the inaugural moments of the game when Hicks' three-point basket was followed by a layup by Greene to give the Matadors an early 5-0 lead.

Connecting on five their first 10 field goal attempts, the young Matador starting lineup was ready to compete against a Long Beach starting five that featured four seniors, and entered the Matadome collectively averaging more than 70 percent of their team's total offense.

Responding to CSUN's initial effort by making six of their first 11 shots, Long Beach took the lead for good at the 16:10 mark of the first half, eventually building an eight point advantage at the half.

Even though Long Beach scored the first seven points of the second half, building their lead to 15 points, the Matadors refused to give in and continued to battle back throughout the rest of the game.

Responsible for guarding Casper Ware, the reigning Big West Conference player of the year, Greene held the 49ers leading scorer to only 12 points, two of which were scored in the second half.

With Long Beach relying on its six-man rotation, Northridge countered by utilizing 13 players in its attempt to battle back and regain the lead. In doing so, the Matador bench easily outscored the 49er reserves 30-13, allowing CSUN to keep the Long Beach lead at manageable margin.

"We were hanging with them throughout most of the night, we just could not score the points we  needed to give ourselves a chance in the final moments of the game," said Greene.

It was not until Long Beach scored seven unanswered points late in the game when Northridge faced too big a deficit to overcome, as the 49ers built a lead as large as 18 points before CSUN whittled it down to its final 13-point margin.

"We did not start the second half the way we wanted to. I know we are good enough to compete with them, we just need to limit our mistakes, play better defense, and make our shots," Greene said.

Cal State Northridge (4-9, 1-2 BWC) will continue its three-game homestand this Thursday, Jan. 12, against Pacific (4-10, 0-3 BWC). Tip-off is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.

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