Men’s Basketball: CSUN freshmen key in upset hopes over UCLA

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CSUN is coming off one of its greatest starts in school history, beginning the season with six straight wins. But after suffering its first loss of the year, Northridge (6-1) will travel to the newly-renovated Pauley Pavilion to take on No. 24 UCLA (4-2) in Westwood Wednesday night at 9 p.m.After dropping its first game of the 2012 campaign to Brigham Young on Nov. 24, 87-75, the new-look Matadors will attempt to get another winning streak started against a more than worthy opponent.

Freshman center Tre Hale-Edmerson drives to the basket against Pepperdine on Nov. 9. Hale-Edmerson will have to play a crucial role if CSUN wants to upend UCLA Wednesday night in Westwood. Jonathan Andrade / Sports Editor

CSUN has three players averaging over 10 points a game but in order for CSUN to have a chance to pull off the upset, the freshmen center duo of Tre Hale-Edmerson and Brandon Perry will be the deciding factor in Wednesday’s outcome.

The two newcomers have combined for an average of 13 points, 8 rebounds and 2 steals a game in 36 minutes while splitting time at center.

As the least experienced team in the nation, according to a survey done by the Naval Academy media relations office, the Matadors had yet to find their identity during a pitiful season last year, but look to have found a support system in the freshmen.

Even with the youngsters chipping in, the sophomores of CSUN are still carrying the team.

Sophomore guard Stephan Hicks is leading all scorers with 18.4 points in nearly 30 minutes per game while sophomore forward Stephen Maxwell has chipped in 14.1 points and seven rebounds in his 27 minutes a game.

Fellow sophomore Josh Greene is on the verge of etching his name in the CSUN record books with solid shooting from the charity stripe. Greene has knocked down 31 straight free-throws , one away from tying CSUN alumni Markus Carr’s streak during the 2000-2001 season.

Greene has been effective at guard for the Matadors tallying nearly 14 points, five assists, and two steals through seven starts while averaging 29.3 minutes per contest.

CSUN’s offense is putting up nearly 80 points a game via 14 assists per game while dominating under the boards and on the defensive end, snagging an average of 39 boards and taking nearly 10 steals a game.

Northridge will have to take its best effort down the 405 freeway to UCLA if it expects to hand the Bruins their second loss in a row.

UCLA is coming off a fresh defeat at the hands CSUN’s Big West Conference foe Cal Poly on Nov. 25, in which the Mustangs outplayed the then No. 11 Bruins down the stretch to complete the 70-68 upset.

The loss knocked UCLA out of the AP Top 25 polls but the Bruins are still hanging around the USA Today Coaches polls at No. 24.

The Bruins are averaging 77.3 points per game and have shot an average of 45.4 percent but have had a few close calls before their major upset.

Everyone will be watching UCLA freshman standout Shabazz Muhammad, who has led the Bruins in scoring in two of the three games that he’s appeared in after being reinstated by the NCAA.

Including Muhammad, the Bruins have five players that average double digits but freshman Jordan Adams leads all scorers with 18.5 points in just 24.5 minutes despite having yet to start in a game.

Under the boards, CSUN has twin brothers Travis and David Wear that have combined for 22 points and 12.8 rebounds a game.

Northridge’s “Tremendous Trio” will put their points on the board but second chance opportunities and the slowing of any UCLA offensive schemes must start and finish in the paint and under the boards.

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