Box Score - CSUN vs. Montana State
By Bob Vazquez, Assistant Athletics Director, Strategic Communications
Mt. Pleasant, Mich. – What seemed like a sure victory (69-56) with 6:43 to play against winless Montana State vanished before you could blink.
A 16-3 scoring streak by the Bobcats tied the game (72-72) on a free throw with 1:02 remaining on the clock. Montana State then snuck ahead on a free throw (73-72).
Nervous – Yes !!!
Sweaty Palms – Yes !!!
Worried – Yes !!!
Nail biting time – Yes !!!
Stephen Maxwell and Tre Hale-Edmerson then went to work at the free throw line as the final buzzer approached. Maxwell drove to the basket to draw a foul that sent the junior forward to the charity stripe with 43 seconds remaining in the game.
A tension-filled moment – Yes !!!
Maxwell's first free throw hit the front iron and bounced away.
Could this be happening? … A Matador team that had not only constructed a 13-point lead late in the game, and had led the majority of the second half now faced the possibility of defeat to a Montana State team that had been beaten in its first two games to Big West schools Cal State Fullerton (55-84) and UC Riverside (67-72).
No worries … Maxwell calmly cashed in his second free throw to tie the game at 73-73.
Now it was Hale-Edmerson's opportunity to be a hero. The sophomore center/forward cleanly blocked a Montana State shot under the basket, only to be fouled.
Nineteen seconds remained on the clock. This time Hale-Edmerson moved to the free throw line.
Even spectators who were filing into McGuirk Arena to watch the second game between Central Michigan play Austin Peay stopped to see the final gripping seconds of this tension-filled contest.
Hale-Edmerson's first charity toss missed its target. However, like Maxwell only seconds earlier, Hale-Edmerson calmly swished the ball through the hoop to give the Matadors a 74-73 lead.
Game over – Not Yet !!!
Nineteen seconds remained in the game. The Bobcats looked for a good shot, but CSUN's defense looked sharp. The Bobcats called a time out with ten seconds remaining.
Montana State setup its offense. Cal State Northridge setup its defense.
The Bobcats inbounded the ball, worked to gain inside position only to miss a short layup and a short jumper with one second on the clock.
Maxwell fought his way through heavy traffic under the basket to grab the rebound as the final buzzer sounded.
GAME OVER … Cal State Northridge 74, Montana State 73 during first round play on Thursday afternoon at the Central Michigan Tournament.
Was head coach Reggie Theus happy with the win? … Of course, but there is more hard work ahead to be a better team.
"This is a young team, even going back to last year, that hasn't learned how to win," said Theus. "Even though we gave up a 12-point lead, the positive is they learned and came away with a victory. Down the stretch we have to learn how to win. Winning is a learned process. Even though we didn't play very well tonight, we still won the game."
CSUN upped its season record to 2-2. Montana State fell to 0-3.
"It is going to be a process for this team to understand who we are as a team," said Theus as he surveyed the box score outside the Matador locker room. "We were driving to the basket and we were already going to the free throw line with 9-to-10 minutes to play in the game. All you had to do was drive to the basket. Down the stretch, we missed three jump shots. The whole game we had been driving the ball."
Tournament action at the Central Michigan Tournament will continue on Friday (4:30 pm, et; 1:30 pm, pt) when the Matadors face Austin Peay (1-2). APU dropped a 90-75 decision to Central Michigan on Thursday night
Matador Memo …
Aaron Parks, the freshman guard, continued to be a contributing force for CSUN … Parks scored a season-high 12 points (7-for-8 from the free throw line) off the bench in 18 minutes … It was the second time in the last three games Parks has scored in double figures … Parks tallied eleven points at USC (11/12/13) … Stephen Maxwell continued his tough inside play with a game-high 21 points (9-for-13 from the free throw line) along with a team-high seven rebounds … Stephan Hicks added 16 points while Josh Greene contributed 13 points … Greene now has 1,055 career points to move past Mark Cooley (1964-67, 1,054) into 13th place on the Matador all-time scoring parade … Landon Drew tied his career-high with six rebounds.