Senior Night ... A Success ... CSUN 91, Long Beach State 83
Box Score - CSUN vs Long Beach State
By Bob Vazquez, Assistant Athletics Director, Strategic Communications
Northridge, Calif. – Josh Greene stood motionless at center court with flowing tears.
The talented senior guard, holder of seven school records and taking aim at another two school marks, absorbed the thunderous cheers of rabid Matador fans at the history he and his Matador teammates had just written into the fabric of Matador basketball.
Greene had never beaten rival Long Beach State over a period of nine games since he enrolled as a freshman at Cal State Northridge in 2010.
Thursday night was Greene's last chance to proclaim victory over the 49ers during a regular season game … on Senior Night.
Greene led a quartet of Matador double-digit scorers to post a well-earned 91-83 slugfest victory over the 49ers in a Big West Conference game at the Matadome.
Greene and senior teammate Dominique Youmans were honored following the win on Senior Night. The overflow crowd of 1,585 fans wanted to stay longer after the game and the Senior Night ceremonies had ended.
An emotional moment in Matador basketball history … Yes !!!
A game to remember in Matador basketball history … Yes !!!
Matador head coach Theus tipped his cap to the winning efforts of his two outstanding seniors, Greene and Youmans.
"From day one when I got the job, Josh Greene was the first player to call me," Theus remembers. "I thought that was pretty special. It made me feel good. I have been a lot of places but that phone call from Josh was special to me. Dominique played solid tonight despite playing only a few minutes. He was a very important person in achieving victory for Cal State Northridge."
Youmans, who has played briefly in 22 games this year, enjoyed the ambience of the hyped-up crowd that appreciated the Matador win.
"This was definitely a big game for the basketball program," said Youmans, a graduate student who is working on his Master's degree in Public Administration at CSUN. "This was definitely special for me since this was my last home game as a Matador. I wanted to go out with a win."
Greene's name appears in the CSUN Top-10 record book 26 times. Greene admits team victories only matter.
"This was a big victory on many fronts," said Greene. "This gives us momentum heading into the Big West Tournament. We feel good going into the tournament. Beating Long Beach State for the first time in my four-year career feels special. I also feel good for our fans. They have supported us all year. The more you win, the more people are going to come out to watch you play. This win was definitely big for our program."
Stephan Hicks scored a career-high 28 points to help lead a quartet of Cal State Northridge players in double figures.
"Stephan could have had five or six 30-point games this season," said Theus. "I'm trying to have him be more consistent and want to score. Tonight I saw a glimpse where I think he can go."
Hicks hit 7-of-11 shots along with a 13-for-13 effort from the free throw line. Hicks also gathered seven rebounds in 28 minutes.
Maxwell added a team-high nine rebounds.
Cal State Northridge, according to Theus, played solid defense from start-to-finish. The 49ers were held to only 42 percent shooting.
"Tonight's game was really about defense," Theus told reporters. "Eight of our nine players played ten minutes or more and that really means a strong team win."
The 49ers held a 33-32 lead with 4:07 remaining in the first half, but an Aaron Parks jumper at the 3:47 mark gave the Matadors a 34-33 advantage it never surrendered.
Cal State Northridge led 43-38 at halftime.
CSUN's lead grew to as many as nine points, 79-70, with 3:32 remaining in the game. A 7-0 run by Long Beach State cut the margin to only two points, but CSUN chalked up an 8-3 rally with 40 seconds remaining on the clock to add insurance to the win.
Final Score – Cal State Northridge 91, Long Beach State 83
"This was a team (Long Beach State) we had not beaten in five years," said Theus. "They are a very difficult team to play against."
Cal State Northridge raised its record to 15-17 overall. The Matadors finished the Big West Conference season with a 7-9 record. CSUN will await completion of the other league members schedules on Saturday to determine its seed at the Big West Conference Tournament (March 13-15) at Honda Center in Anaheim.
"I am so happy for our players and our fans," gushed Theus. "We have made solid steps this year to move forward with the potential we have in this program. Losing only one senior starter, along with a strong recruiting class coming into the program, means the future is very strong."
With solid momentum building for the team's first game at the Big West Tournament, the positive vibes are expanding from the CSUN campus into the community.
"We have beaten all the top teams in the conference (#1 UC Irvine, #2 UC Santa Barbara, #3 Long Beach State, #4 Hawai'i)," said Theus. "We have a chance to beat anybody. It's a great victory for us because we are trying to change the culture here at Northridge. We are trying to increase the fan base, the community base. This kind of win helps build the program. I told the players at the start of the season we have to do a little bit more. I have to do my part. They have to do their part. If you want to have support, you need to be a part of campus life. We cannot be an island."
Cal State Northridge has played six overtime games (4-2) this year. The Matadors have played six one-point games (3-3).
"I am very lucky as a first year coach to have this group of guys," said Theus. "This group, although we are not super talented, is one of the best groups I've had the opportunity to coach. The word on the street is that the culture has changed here. It doesn't happen overnight. It's going to take even more work next year. But it's moving in the right direction."
Matador Memo …
When the NCAA statistics are released on Friday morning, it will show that Cal State Northridge and Providence College are tied for the nation's lead in free throw percentage … Both teams are hitting .786 from the charity line … CSUN has completed its regular season … Providence plays at Creighton on Saturday (3/8/14) … CSUN was hot again from the free throw line against Long Beach State … The Matadors hit 34-of-39 free throws (.872), the 17th time this season Cal State Northridge has hit 80 percent or better from the charity line … The 34 free throws are sixth-best for a single game in school history … The Matadors still lead the nation in free throws made with 696, far ahead of BYU's second place mark of 639 … CSUN has now scored 2,461 points this year, the second-best effort for a single season in school history … The school record remains 2,650 points set during the 2000-01 campaign … Stephan Hicks' 28 points gives him 1,389 in his three-year career to move past Jonathan Heard (1,362 points, 2004-08) into fourth place in the CSUN record book … Hicks is only 252 points short of the school record of 1,461 held by Brian Heinle (1997-01) … Josh Greene has moved further ahead of Chuck Malouf in his quest for the career free throw percentage mark … With an 8-for-8 free throw effort against Long Beach State, Greene now has a career percentage of .871 (391-for-449), just ahead of Malouf's mark of .867 (124-for-143) … Greene is now shooting . 920 (149-for-162) from the free throw line this year well above Malouf's mark of .869 set during the 1963-64 season … Greene's mark of .920 is currently the second best mark in the history of the Big West Conference … Tre Hale-Edmerson's five blocks are the third-best effort for a single game in school history.