By Bob Vazquez, Assistant Athletics Director, Strategic Communications
Vermillion, South Dakota – Cal State Northridge fought back from a 13-point halftime deficit, gained an eight-point lead (71-63) with 4:37 to play, but eventually fell to the University of South Dakota, 76-75, in a non-league basketball game on Thursday evening at the DakotaDome.
The Coyotes hit their first eight shots of the game along with seven three-pointers to take a 45-32 halftime lead. South Dakota shot .621 (18-for-29) from the floor in the first half, including .700 (7-for-10) from three-point territory.
CSUN changed its defensive demeanor in the second half, courtesy of head coach Reggie Theus.
"We had a very pointed talk at halftime," said Theus. "We then played an extremely good second half. We outscored them (by eleven points). We had our opportunities down the stretch. We are so close to being a very good basketball game. It's the little things, particularly down the stretch, that we need to finish games (with a win). We had two 50-50 balls. One of them turned out to be a three-point play for them (South Dakota)."
An 18-4 run to start the second half gave the Matadors its first lead of the game, 49-48, with 15:23 to play.
With 3:42 on the clock, CSUN led, 71-63.
Stephen Maxwell's layup with 1:42 to play gave Cal State Northridge a 75-71 lead. The Coyotes hit a three-pointer 20 seconds later to cut the Matadors lead to one point, 75-74.
A USD foul with 59 seconds to play put the Matadors on the free throw line. But a miss on the front end of a one-and-one free throw opportunity gave the ball back to South Dakota. With 12 seconds to play, A Matador foul put USD's Trey Norris at the free throw line where he hit two free throws to give the Coyotes a 76-75 lead.
Two Matador shots failed to find the net, and South Dakota raced off the court with the one-point victory.
Cal State Northridge fell to 8-7. South Dakota broke its six-game losing streak to raise its season record to 4-9.
Trey Norris led South Dakota with 20 points including the two game winning free throws.
Matador Memo …
True Matador fans will attend a CSUN basketball game on the road or at home … In Thursday night's game at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, Mike Mollet and Katie Wingate drove more than seven hours from Ladysmith (near Eau Claire), Wisconsin, to root for the Matadors … Mollet graduated from CSUN in 1983 with a Business Accounting degree … Mollet is now a CPA in Wisconsin … Mollet graduated from Granada Hills High School … Wingate is a nurse who graduated from the University of Wisconsin, but roots for the Matadors … Also in attendance were Rebekah Wallin, Erik Garcia and Enrique Marquez, who flew from Los Angeles to Vermillion to attend the game … Earlier this year, Wallin, Garcia and Marquez attended the Central Michigan Tournament in Mt. Pleasant … All three have traveled great distances in the last several years to root for the Matadors … Wallin, Garcia and Marquez will stay over in South Dakota to visit Mt. Rushmore … Landon Drew's older brother, Larry Drew II, played for UCLA during the 2012-13 season … Larry now plays for the Sioux Falls Sky Force of the NBA D-League … However, Larry Drew II didn't get a chance to see his younger brother play at the University of South Dakota game because the Sky Force was on a road trip … Landon also didn't get a chance to attend the Los Angeles Lakers game vs Milwaukee Bucks game on New Year's Eve at the Staples Center … Landon's dad, Larry, is the head coach of the Bucks, but Landon was traveling with the CSUN basketball team.