By Bob Vazquez, Assistant Athletic Director (Media Relations)
Northridge, Calif. – Basketball is a 40-minute game. Cal State Northridge head coach Bobby Braswell stresses "you need to play hard and execute for the ENTIRE game."
"When you take a deep breath at this level, you're going to get beat," said Braswell in the post-game press conference.
For the second straight game, Cal State Northridge played well in spurts, but a second half defensive lapse again spelled doom for the Matadors. Last Saturday at UC Irvine, CSUN held UCI to only 43 percent shooting in the first half, only to have the Anteaters shoot an incredible 75 percent in the second half to send CSUN to a 79-69 defeat.
And it happened again on Thursday night in a Big West Conference game against UC Davis at The Matadome. CSUN held the Aggies to only .429 shooting in the first half. However in the second half, CSUN's defense disappeared, allowing UCD to shoot 60 percent (15-for-25) from the floor including 55 percent (6-for-11) from three-point territory.
The end result was another tough loss for Cal State Northridge, 74-71, to UC Davis.
"We gave a good enough effort to win this game," said Braswell. "We probably should have had a lead (at halftime) but we were down by three points. We had a good run to start the second half. But we just let up. I'm trying to be positive but we just let up. We don't continue to play the game the way it's supposed to be played."
Cal State Northridge looked in complete control through the first eight minutes of the game. The Matadors held a 23-12 lead at the 11:57 mark. But a 14-4 run by the Aggies in the next eleven minutes cut the CSUN lead to 27-26.
UC Davis went on to take a 30-27 half time lead.
Cal State Northridge fought back in the second half to take a six-point lead, 53-47, with 15:20 left in the contest. But with 6:50 remaining in the game, UC Davis went in front for good, 57-56, on a three-pointer by Josh Ritchart.
UC Davis extended the lead to six points, 69-63, at the 2:06 mark.
A three-pointer by CSUN's Josh Greene cut the UCD lead to two points, 73-71, with 14 seconds left.
A free throw by Paolo Mancasola with ten seconds remaining gave the visitors a 74-71 lead.
Cal State Northridge worked for a game-tying three-pointer in the final seconds, but a long-range shot was partially blocked and UC Davis walked away with a 74-71 victory over Cal State Northridge.
"Our defense failed again in the second half," said Braswell. "It's becoming a pattern. We just had a lot of defensive breakdowns. We played enough guys so fatigue should not have been a factor. The defensive breakdowns that we are having at crucial times are just mind-boggling."
Mancasola, who was only averaging 4.1 points per game, had a career-night against Cal State Northridge. The Aggie senior guard tallied a game-high 18 points on 6-of-7 shooting from the floor. Mancasola added six assists and three rebounds.
Stephen Maxwell added his sixth double-double of the season for CSUN, and third in the last four games with 18 points and eleven rebounds. Maxwell added four steals.
Cal State dropped its sixth straight game to fall to 9-9 overall and 0-6 in the Big West Conference. UC Davis is 6-10 overall and 2-3 in league competition.
Cal State Northridge hosts Pacific on Saturday at 7:05 pm at The Matadome.
Matador Memo …
Cal State Northridge had beaten UC Davis in nine straight games at The Matadome before Thursday night's 74-71 loss to the Aggies ... CSUN recorded a season-high 17 steals, ninth-best for a single game in school history.