The Matadors (13-16, Big West 4-12) dropped their fifth consecutive game Thursday night as they lost 81-61 to Cal Poly (14-12, 9-6), endangering their hopes of making the conference tournament.
Led by senior guard Dylan Royer, the Mustangs jumped out to an early 9-7 lead which they never relinquished. Royer scored Cal Poly’s first nine points by drilling three consecutive 3-pointers.
The deficit for Northridge increased as Cal Poly went on a 16-4 run that pushed their lead to 14. The Matadors finished the first half trailing 38-22.
“Our first half defense was not good,” said head coach Bobby Braswell. “They were running Royer off a lot of screens, double screens, triple screens and it is hard to guard a guy like that. We didn’t give enough support to help (Greene) guard out there tonight. (Royer) was just in the zone.”
The Mustangs shot 56 percent from the field and were 6-8 from the behind arc in the first half with four of them coming from Royer.
“It was just too easy for them on offense (tonight),” said sophomore forward Stephen Hicks, who finished the game with 16 points and 9 rebounds. “We just didn’t play well on the defensive end to get stops which gave them their big lead in the first half. We were just stagnant on offense in the first half.”
The Matadors shot 28 percent from the field off of one team assist in the first half, and they missed all three of their 3-point attempts.
“They just hit shots and we just didn’t come out with a physical mindset,” said junior guard Josh Greene, who had 19 points and was 4-of-8 from behind the arc. “They just out executed on both ends of the floor.”
In the second half, Northridge cut the Mustangs lead to 13 points after a Hicks’ layup made the score 40-27. CSUN would not get any closer as Cal Poly responded with a 17-9 run that pushed its lead to its largest of the game, 21 points.
“In the second half we just did not get multiple stops,” Greene said. “We would get one stop and then they would come back done and make another shot. We just to get multiple stops to cut that lead down.”
Cal Poly shot 60 percent from the field and 6-of-7 from downtown in the second half, with junior forward Chris Eversley scoring 16 of his game-high 23 points. Northridge improved after the first half, shooting 41.7 percent from the field and 6-13 from three point range, but it was too little too late.
“We just had too big of a hole at half time,” said Braswell. “It was a four point game in the second half and if we had done that in the first half who knows how this game would have ended up. Our defense was just not good tonight.”