New exhibition season, same result for the CSUN men’s basketball team.
For the third straight year, the Matadors staged their first exhibition game of the season against the Cal State Los Angeles Golden Eagles and for the third straight year, CSUN came away with the victory.
The Matadors got off to a blazing start, withstood a brief charge by the Golden Eagles and turned it back on in the second half, as CSUN cruised to a 90-54 win over Cal State L.A. on Halloween night.
Senior forward Calvin Chitwood led the Matadors with 19 points and junior guard Rob Haynes scored 16 points on 6-9 shooting, going 4-7 from the three-point line. Fellow junior guard Deon Tresvant scored 13 points off the bench.
“We made some steps in the right direction tonight,” Chitwood said. “We had some gaps defensively, but I think we just need to keep building on it, practice tomorrow, get ready to see the film, grade it, and take steps forward, not backward.”
Both teams scored in the first minute of play, but the next 11 minutes were all CSUN as the Matadors scored the game’s next 11 points. Cal State L.A.’s Vincent Camper scored on a layup at 14:52, but CSUN simply started another run, going 16-0 over a six-minute span to open up a 29-4 lead. The Matadors led 33-9 at 6:08 until the Golden Eagles started showing some life, going on a 14-6 run to end the first half with the Matadors leading 39-23.
The Golden Eagles stayed in the game early in the second half, pulling to 44-29 on a Mark Christopher layup at 15:02, but that was the closest CSULA got, as Haynes started another CSUN surge with a three-pointer at 14:46. Haynes converted a layup at 14:30 and almost a minute later, nailed another three to give CSUN a 52-30 lead. The Matadors then outscored Cal State L.A. 15-2 to lead 68-32 with 10:06 to go, putting the game out of reach.
The Matadors shot 50 percent from the field in both halves and ended up shooting 54.5 percent the entire game. CSUN was also solid on defense, as it forced 28 turnovers and also held Cal State L.A. to 28.8 percent shooting from the field, including 23.1 percent in the first half and nine percent from the three-point line.
“What I’m pleased about the most was the defensive side of the ball,” said head coach Bobby Braswell. “I don’t think scoring will be a problem. Our biggest question is going to be how we defend.”
CSUN also got solid play from its point guards, as juniors Josh Jenkins and Paul Wayne, who got the start in the game, combined for eight assists.
“I never thought of it, I never paid attention to it,” Wayne said. “I just thought it was challenging to see how I would react.”
The only blemish for the Matadors was the boards, as Cal State L.A. out-rebounded CSUN 39-37. Part of the problem could be traced to the absence of 6-foot-9-inch junior Jermaine Smith, who has been lost for the season to a knee injury.
With Smith out, Braswell started senior Jayme Miller at center and used senior forward Jonathan Heard at power forward for certain stretches of the game. Braswell says he’s also turned to a zone defense to keep his post players out of foul trouble.
The Matadors finish their exhibition schedule against the Masters’ College on Tuesday night at 8 p.m.