The Matadors topped the Cal State Fullerton Titans 75-67 after trailing for much of the second half. With the win, CSUN sealed a season sweep over the Titans.
With 18 points and a career-high of nine rebounds while making 13-of-14 from the free-throw line, junior guard Kendall Smith lead the Matadors in scoring for the night. CSUN totaled four players with double-figures and dominated the glass by out-rebounding the Titans 45-to-38.
“When I seen that my shot wasn’t really falling I wanted to do more and help my team win,” said Smith. “The end goal is to get a win so I kind of locked in on the defensive end with the defensive rebounding”.
The Matadors were able to turn it up defensively by blocking seven shots and playing defense that would stifle the Titans’ attack.
Senior forward Tre Hale-Edmerson filled up the stat sheet with 15 points on 6-of-11 shooting to go along with eight rebounds and four blocks.
“We started getting stops on defense and slowly chipping away at the lead,” said Hale-Edmerson when speaking on the second half comeback.
The Matador/Titan tilt can be characterized as a game of runs that would see both teams jostle for control.
“Every game you’re not going to play great so you have to learn how to win when things aren’t going your way,” said CSUN head coach Reggie Theus.
After Cal State Fullerton scored the first basket at the 19:25 mark in the first half, the Matadors went on a 7-2 run to take an early 7-4 lead on a jumper by junior guard Aaron Parks.
Following the Matador outburst, the Titans went on a 6-0 run regaining control and taking a 10-7 lead. CSUN took an 18-15 lead at the 10:20 mark following a jumper from Smith.
Heading into the break, the Titans held a 33-28 lead over the Matadors despite Smith being the half’s leading scorer with nine points and five rebounds.
The Matadors began the second half on a hot start, scoring on its first two possessions to tie the game at 33.
The Titans answered back by capitalizing on Matador mistakes scoring four straight baskets to take a 42-33 lead at the 16:50 mark in the second half.
Following free-throws from Smith at 8:05, the Matadors pulled within one making the score 52-53. The a jumper from Parks gave CSUN their first lead since 9:41 in the first half, sparking an eight-point run. The Matadors maintained this lead throughout the rest of the game, winning 75-67.
The Matadors head to UC Irvine to play the Anteaters on Saturday at 7 p.m.