By Bob Vazquez, Assistant Athletic Director (Media Relations)
Northridge, Calif. – The most critical part of a basketball game may simply be halftime.
It's a chance for a team to regroup, to reenergize, or to rethink a game plan that may need to be altered in order to win a basketball game.
Matador head coach Bobby Braswell knew what needed to be said at halftime after he witnessed Cal State Northridge trail by 17 points (26-9) with 7:33 left in the first half.
"I challenged them at halftime to not be satisfied with winning a couple games in a row," Braswell told reporters. "We needed to do things that got us there (the two-game winning streak). We still had 20 minutes to go in the game and I'm glad we were able to respond. UC Irvine got a little tired and we were able to put a little more pressure on them."
Trevone Williams simply said "Coach had a speech ready for us."
In the second half, CSUN played like champions. Josh Greene scored a game-high 21 points, including two critical three-pointers with 11:31 to play, to lead Cal State Northridge back from a 17-point deficit, and give the Matadors a 70-61 victory on Thursday night in a Big West Conference game at The Matadome.
The Matadors have won three games in a row heading into Saturday's huge conference game against the defending Big West champions, the Long Beach State 49ers.
"We're really playing well right now, and I'm really happy with our young group," said Greene. "We're showing a lot of toughness. We're happy to be playing in the court."
UC Irvine led from start-to-finish in the first half, and built up what seemed to be an insurmountable, 26-9, advantage with 7:33 left before intermission.
Cal State Northridge was able to cut the Anteater lead to nine points, 33-24, at halftime.
CSUN went to work at the start of the second half. The Matadors scored eight straight points to cut the UCI lead to one point, 33-32, with 17:39 on the clock.
UCI refused to fold, scoring the next seven points to take a 40-32 lead at the 15:56 mark.
Greene hit a deep three-pointer to make it 46-44 in favor of UCI with 12:03 remaining. Then CSUN went in front for the first time in the game when Greene hit another three-pointer, to make it 47-46 at the 11:31 mark.
UC Irvine could never recover nor could they ever retake the lead the remainder of the game.
With 42 seconds remaining, Greene hit two free throws to give the Matadors an insurmountable 66-58 lead.
Greene added four assists and three steals in 30 minutes of play.
Cal State Northridge scored 46 points in the second half and shot 50 percent, compared to only 24 points and 28 percent shooting in the first 20 minutes.
CSUN outrebounded the visitors, 40-36, including 14 huge offensive rebounds. Brandon Perry accounted for six offensive boards while Maxwell had five offensive caroms.
"We certainly played a much better brand of basketball in the second half on both ends of the floor," said Braswell. "Defense is where it all starts for us. We didn't give UC Irvine much resistance in the first half. The big thing was keeping it close at half time (33-24).
In addition to Greene's 21 points, three other Matador players scored in double-figures. Trevone Williams came off the bench score 14 points along with six rebounds. Stephen Maxwell and Donovan Johnson each collected eleven points.
Maxwell added eleven rebounds to his eleven points to give him ten double-doubles this season.
The Matador victory gives CSUN a 4-8 Big West Conference record, and moves the Matadors into eighth place just ahead of UC Santa Barbara in the league standings. The Gauchos are now 3-8 following their 64-58 loss to UC Davis. The top eight teams in the Big West Conference qualify for the Big West Tournament in mid-March.
UCSB is 13-11 overall. UC Irvine falls to 12-12 overall and 6-5 in conference play.
The victory gives Cal State Northridge momentum going into Saturday's contest (2/9/13) against defending Big West champion Long Beach State. Tipoff at the Matadome is 7:05 pm.