February 28, 2014

CSUN Rally Falls Short, 82-81, at Cal State Fullerton

Box Score - CSUN @ Cal State Fullerton

By Bob Vazquez, Assistant Athletics Director, Strategic Communications

Fullerton, Calif. –
After Cal State Northridge lost a tough 82-81 decision at Cal State Fullerton on Thursday night at Titan Gym, Matador head coach Reggie Theus reminded the team that making the upcoming Big West Tournament is no cinch.

The Matadors, despite two recent impressive victories over first place UC Irvine and then first place UC Santa Barbara, have chalked up a 6-8 record, good for fifth place, and seemingly in good position to capture its first conference tournament appearance in three years. But CSUN is only one and a half games ahead of eighth place UC Davis, and two and a half games ahead of ninth place UC Riverside. Only the top eight teams in the nine team Big West Conference earn a berth in the league tournament.

Two games remain in the league season.

In a league where there are no "sure wins", CSUN now travels to UC Riverside on Saturday night (7:00 pm). The Highlanders enjoyed a bye on Thursday night and will be well rested for the game against CSUN. UCR is fighting for a berth in the league tournament.

Cal State Northridge enjoyed a second-half surge at both ends of the court to make the game exciting until the final buzzer. A Matador jumper at the final buzzer brushed off the rim to give the Titans their tenth victory of the season. Cal State Northridge fell to 14-16 overall and 6-8 in the conference.

Cal State Fullerton led the entire first half. The Titans enjoyed a 15-point lead on two occasions, but the Matadors cut the CSF margin to only two points, 35-33, with 4:14 left before intermission.

An 11-2 Titan run gave the home team a comfortable 46-37 half time advantage.

"Historically this is why this team has troubles on the road," said Theus. "You have to be tough enough to play both halves. We went into halftime knowing that we were not getting the job done. It's a matter of getting the team to play the entire 40 minutes."

Three times in the second half Cal State Northridge sliced into CSF's big lead. Down 60-49 at the 14:00 mark, the Matadors fought back to within two points at 63-61 with 9:12 to play. Back came Cal State Fullerton with an 8-2 run to take a 71-63 lead, thanks in back-to-back three pointers.

The Titan advantage reached ten points, 78-68, with 2:33 to play, but CSUN refused to surrender. A 13-4 rally sliced the Cal State Fullerton lead to only one point, 82-81, on a Landon Drew driving layup with 15 seconds to play. Two missed free throws by Cal State Fullerton gave the Matadors one last opportunity at victory. But CSUN's last shot missed its mark and Cal State Fullerton raced off the court with the victory.

Stephen Maxwell continued his excellent season play with his 13th double-double of the year with a game-high 25 points (7-for-12 from the floor) and a game-high 12 rebounds. Josh Greene added 13 points while Tre Hale-Edmerson added eleven points and ten rebounds (all in the second half). Landon Drew scored ten points (4-for-5 from the floor).

Cal State Northridge enjoyed a good shooting night (.519, 28-for-54).

Matador Memo …
A new school record for Cal State Northridge … The Matadors collected 21 free throws at Cal State Fullerton to give the Matadors 631 for the season, breaking the old record of 624 set during the 2009-10 campaign … Josh Greene tied a school record playing in his 120th game in his four-year CSUN career … Jonathan Heard (2004-08) also holds the school record … Greene continues his assault on the career free throw percentage school record … With a 2-for-2 effort at Cal State Fullerton, Greene has upped his career percentage to .869 (378-435), just ahead of Chuck Malouf's mark of .867 (124-for-143, 1961-64) … Greene's single season free throw percentage now stands at .919 (136-for-148), way ahead of the school record of .869 set by Malouf in 1963-64 … Stephen Maxwell's 25 points gives him 535 single season points, sixth-best in school history … Maxwell now has 188 single season field goals to move past Lenny Daniel (185, 2010-11) into tenth place in the Matador record book … Maxwell also hit eleven free throws against the Titans to give the junior forward a total of 160 for the season, the second-best mark in school history … Stephan Hicks' four free throw attempts gives him 491 in his career, second-best in school history just ahead of Jonathan Heard (490, 2004-08).