WESTWOOD—Live by the three and die by the three.
It’s a moniker any basketball player at any level has heard in their days, yet CSUN learned the hard way Wednesday night as they shot a mere 19 percent from beyond the arc en route to a 82-56 romping at the hands of the much bigger UCLA lineup in the Pauley Pavilion.
CSUN threw up 26 three-point shots, only connecting on five, but they had no choice after multiple failed attempts at penetrating the Bruins’ lengthy zone defense.
“Their length hurt us,” said head coach Bobby Braswell “Those big guys, as tall as they are, as long as they are, they made it that much tougher and that bothered us…We knew they were going to play zone. Didn’t know they were going to play it all 40 minutes, but they played it all game.”
The Northridge defense allowed UCLA to shoot an astounding 53 percent from the field while also getting outrebounded 47-35.
CSUN’s offense didn’t do much better, hitting 32 percent of its shots, and only getting to the charity stripe five times on the night.
“We’ve been averaging close to 25 free-throws a game and to get only five says a lot,” Braswell said.
Sophomore Stephan Hicks led Northridge with 11 points, three steals and two rebounds. Freshman guard Landon Drew, facing his brother Larry Drew II of UCLA, put up 10 points, two assists and a steal in 23 minutes off the bench.
The Bruins jumped out to an early 6-0 lead while CSUN looked like bystanders on the defensive end. Northridge managed to battle its way back to a tie ballgame with six straight points of its own highlighted by an alley-oop from Hale-Edmerson to Hicks.
CSUN hung in early and took the 14-12 lead after freshman Brandon Perry put away a layup while getting fouled but failed to convert on the following free throw.
Northridge’s offense struggled to get any penetration, settling for multiple three-pointers, and extended its deficit to six before taking a timeout.
“We could have been more aggressive,” Hicks said. “We played soft tonight. We could have boxed out more but we were just no the more aggressive team.”
The Matadors came out of the break with a busted play while UCLA’s Shabazz Muhammad ran the court on the ensuing possession and turned in a three-point play.
UCLA went on a 16-3 tear, pushing its advantage to 28-17, before the Matadors could respond with five quick points.
CSUN failed to keep up the new-found offense and the Bruins closed out the half with a 10-2 run, highlighted by another Muhammad slam, leaving UCLA ahead 38-24 after the first.
Northridge shot just over 30 percent from the field in the first half while UCLA managed to shoot 45 percent, outscoring CSUN in the paint, 26-14.
CSUN’s struggles penetrating the Bruins’ defense continued in the second half and allowed the Bruins to extend the gap with an 11-2 run.
“We looked like freshmen and sophomores tonight,” Braswell said about his team, the youngest in the country. “I don’t know if we were intimidated or what but we just didn’t play as hard as we’d been playing.”
The stellar shooting of UCLA continued as the Bruins shot over 53 percent throughout the half while the Matadors continued to depend on the long ball, shooting 19 percent from beyond the arc in the second.
CSUN began to look as if it were attempting a comeback in the latter half of the second but the game was well out of reach as the Bruins continued to pound the boards.
“We knew we had to respond or things were going to get ugly,” said junior guard Josh Greene. “This year we’ve been known for punching back but we haven’t done that these past two games.”
UCLA built up its lead to as many as 28 before the crowd started chanting for Adria Gasol, the Los Angeles Lakers Pau Gasol’s younger brother, to make his UCLA debut.
Despite the efforts, the crowd didn’t see its beloved celebrity sibling, but did see the Bruins easily cruise to the victory.
The Bruins had three of five starts in double digits while Norman Powell came off the bench and added 17 points, eight rebounds and two steals in 29 minutes.