By Bob Vazquez, Assistant Athletic Director, Strategic Communications
Fresno, Calif. – Even in defeat, there are always positives.
Yes, Cal State Northridge dropped its second straight game, this time an 80-64 decision at Fresno State before a crowd of 14,770 at the Save Martin Center, the fourth-largest crowd in the home history of Bulldog basketball.
Yes, the Matadors had previously fallen to the USC Trojans, 95-79, at the Galen Center on Nov. 12.
Yes, head coach Reggie Theus and the Matadors were disappointed with the final results at Fresno State.
But as Theus told reporters after the game, playing a quality Pac-12 team (USC) and a Fresno State squad from a strong basketball conference (Mountain West Conference), will pay dividends as the season progresses.
"Yes, we would have had to play great to beat those teams (USC, Fresno State) especially without a full team," said Theus. "But playing these good teams helps us prepare for games later in the season. Obviously we wanted to win these games. I thought we competed hard in both games. The team rallied to cut the Fresno State lead to only two points (27-25, 4:27 left in the first half) but we took three bad shots (to give them momentum). That was it. Against USC, we cut the Trojans lead to only four points in the second half. That's competing."
Fresno State led the Matadors, 27-18, with 6:10 remaining in the first half. With a highly enthusiastic crowd, all dressed in red elevating the noise to a high level, the Matadors refused to fold. A 7-0 run by CSUN thanks to five points by Aaron Parks and a two-pointer by Tre Hale-Edmerson cut the FSU margin to 27-25 at the 4:27 mark.
"I hope these games give us an understanding of what we have to do to win," said Theus. "My job is to help them learn. We played hard in spurts but we haven't had a sustained effort."
A 14-2 Bulldog run gave the home team a 41-27 halftime lead.
"We took three bad shots during that stretch," said Theus as he surveyed the stats sheet. "We took long shots that resulted in Fresno State getting the rebound and coming down the court to score. We didn't rebound, didn't score and didn't get to the free throw line. Bottom line, we have to get tougher."
Although down by 14 points (41-27) at halftime, Cal State Northridge was only outscored 39-37, in the final stanza.
"We have to learn who we are," said Theus. "They haven't figured out who we are yet. This is only the third game of the season. We have to understand we are not a jump shot shooting team. We have to take the ball to the basket."
Fresno State's initial game plan was to deny Stephen Maxwell the basketball, who started the game as CSUN's leading scorer (20.0 ppg) and leading rebounder (12.0 rpg). The game plan worked with Maxwell only getting two points on only two shots along with two rebounds in the first half. Maxwell didn't fold. The junior forward ended the game with 13 points on 6-of-8 shooting. In the second half, Maxwell hit 5-of-5 shots for eleven points.
"Fresno State did a good job of not allowing him to receive the ball," said Theus. "He needs to do a better job on recognizing how to get the ball. It is a growing process for him. He didn't get many offensive rebounds or a lot of free throws which is a big part of his game."
Two fouls early in the first half forced Josh Greene to play only nine minutes with two points. Greene also refused to fold. The senior guard scored 15 second-half points to give him a team-high 17 points on 5-for-10 shooting (3-for-5 from three-point territory).
"Keep playing hard whether you're ahead or behind in the game," said Greene. "As long as I'm on the court, I'm going to keep playing."
Stephan Hicks produced a workman like effort with 16 points (8-for-14). Hicks added a team high eight rebounds.
With only eleven players on the active roster, three starters (Stephen Maxwell, Stephan Hicks, Tre Hale-Edmerson) had to play 35, 34 and 33 minutes, respectively.
"We knew these games (Fresno State, USC) were going to be tough for us," said Theus. "That is where toughness comes in. So far, we haven't shot the ball well. We have gotten to the free throw line and rebounded well. Each game has been nip-and-tuck, but we don't sustain those positive traits. We have to be tougher to win. Guys need to get back on defense and get those '50-50' plays. We need to find out who is going to make those plays to get the ball."
Matadome Memo …
Former Fresno State standout and current NBA star Paul George of the Indiana Pacers purchased the majority of the tickets to insure a sold out crowd of 15,596 at the Fresno State's arena, the Save Mart Center … The announced attendance was 14,770, the fourth-largest home crowd in the history of Fresno State basketball, and the seventh-largest crowd to ever watch a basketball game in the 55-year history of Matador history … Josh Greene's team-high 17 points gives him 1,042 career points to move past Todd Bowser (1986-89, 1990-91) into 14th place on the CSUN career scoring list.
For Immediate Release: Monday, November 18, 2013
Two Outstanding Water Polo Players Sign National Letters of Intent with CSUN
Northridge, Calif. – Maddie Sanchez and Shannon Hovanesian, two outstanding high school senior water polo players, have signed National Letters of Intent with Cal State Northridge, according to head coach Dr. Marcelo Leonardi.
Sanchez and Hovanesian, both seniors, will enroll at CSUN in the Fall of 2014.
"Maddie is an extraordinary attacker and playmaker," said Dr. Leonardi. "She has exceptional ball handling skills, great vision, explosiveness in the water, and can score in a variety of ways. Maddie will make an immediate impact in the Northridge program next year."
Sanchez is currently a senior at Murrieta Valley High School. She will graduate in 2014.
Her credentials not only include major honors in high school but also nationally and internationally as well. In 2011 and 2012, Sanchez helped Murrieta Valley to the CIF Division III championships. Her outstanding team play garnered her all-CIF accolades among several post-season awards. Sanchez also has gained valuable experience playing on the United States Women's National Youth Team. She is also a member of the Olympic Development Program.
"I chose CSUN because of its awesome water polo program and coaching staff," said Sanchez. "On my recruiting trip, I instantly clicked with the team and its culture. I'm excited to be a Matador and be a part of the program for the next four years."
Sanchez also plays for the Elite Water Polo club under the tutelage of Bryon Lynton. This club team has also produced former Matador and MVHS alums Sydney Sonoda and Kirra Kylander.
Power and versatility are adjectives that describe the talents of Hovanesian, who is currently a senior at Crescenta Valley High School.
"She has the ability to play several positions in the water," said Dr. Leonardi. "Shannon also brings with her experience playing in the Olympic Developmental Program."
Hovanesian has developed and fine-tuned her water polo skills at Crescenta Valley High School. During her tenure at CVHS, she gained first team all-CIF accolades in leading the team to the CIF Division 5 championship in 2013. She was also selected as the Pacific League Player of the Year as a junior in 2013.
"Shannon will definitely make an immediate impact to the CSUN program both academically and athletically," said Dr. Leonardi. "Shannon boasts of a 4.0 grade point average, which places her at the top of her class academically."
Hovanesian is also a member of the Rose Bowl Water Polo club program under the guidance of Adam Roth.
"CSUN fulfills my dream of playing on a Division I women's water polo team in California under the guidance of head coach Marcelo Leonardi," said Hovanesian, who selected CSUN after her official visit. I am looking forward to becoming a part of this team. The team's level of commitment to water polo is equivalent to their dedication to their academic achievements."