February 29, 2012

Northridge Falls to Cal State Fullerton in Season Finale, 87-76

FULLERTON, Calif. – The Cal State Northridge men's basketball team dropped its season finale against Cal State Fullerton 87-76 Wednesday night at Titan Gym. Josh Greene led all Matadors with 19 points, Stephen Maxwell recorded his third double-double of the season by finishing with 15 points and 12 rebounds.

"If you score 76 points like we did tonight, most of the time you are going to win. They (Fullerton) just have a lot of firepower and have a good chance to do really well in this tournament," said Northridge head coach Bobby Braswell referring to next week's Big West Conference Men's Basketball Tournament.

As a team, Northridge shot 26-for-63 (41.3 percent) from the field, 5-for-17 (29.4 percent) from three, and 19-for 25 (76 percent) from the free throw line.

Entering its final game of the 2011-12 campaign as the most successful team in the conference from the free throw line, Northridge ended its season by setting a new program record. 

Shattering a mark that was untouched for 50 years, this year's team shot 75.5 from the free throw line, breaking the previous standard of 73.6 percent originally recorded by the 1961-62 squad.

Wednesday's contest also marked the final appearance in a Northridge uniform for seniors Ari Feldman, John Hayward-Mayhew, Michael Lizarraga, and Vinnie McGhee

Feldman ended his night with four points and one rebound, Hayward-Mayhew scored one point and grabbed four rebounds, Lizarraga completed his CSUN career with four points and five boards, with McGhee recording eight points, a team-high four assists, and two rebounds in his final appearance as a Matador.

"I told everyone after the game to learn from this season, and keep working hard," said McGhee. "I want this season to be everyone's fuel for next season."

In a game that saw the lead change six times throughout the first 20 minutes played, the Matadors (7-21, 3-13 BWC) entered their locker room at halftime trailing 37-36. 

Once action resumed, the Titans (20-8, 11-4 BWC) slowly built their advantage to a double-digit margin before the Matadors made their final scoring run of the game.

After Fullerton increased its lead to a game-high 12 points, Greene hit his second three-point shot of the evening to trim the Titans' lead to 80-71 with 3:18 remaining.

That basket helped the sophomore guard add his name to the Northridge record books alongside Gerald Rhoden (1996-97), Ian Boylan (2002-03), and Mike Efevberha (2005-06) in eighth place with 57 three-point field goals scored in a season.

After Frankie Eteuati earned the last of his three blocks by deflecting a shot from Titan guard D.J. Seeley, Greene converted on both ends of his one-and-one seconds later to bring the Matadors within seven.

CSUN was unable to further decrease its deficit in the final three minutes, as Fullerton scored seven of the game's final 10 points to snap the Matadors' four-game win streak at Titan Gym.

Seeley led Fullerton with a game-high 25 points, followed by Kwame Vaughn and Isiah Umipig with 24 and 12 points.

In addition to outrebounding the Titans 40-35, the Matadors' bench also outscored the Titans' reserves 27-12.

For the second time in as many games, Allen Jiles IV set a new season high mark. After finishing with five points last Saturday at UC Irvine, Jiles scored six during his 13 minutes played at Cal State Fullerton, falling one point shy of matching his career high originally set against Tulsa last season.

Thanks to his effort against the Titans, Etauati finished his season with 28 blocked shots, tying Keith Higgins (1996-97) for the eighth-highest, single-season total in the program's history.

In addition to blocking three shots, Eteuati also scored seven points to tie his season high set four days ago at UC Irvine. 

"Obviously we want to win more games than we won this year," said Braswell, "but this is our training ground. Now we have something to look forward to next year."

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