The number three became a significant number for the CSUN men’s basketball team in its last game.
For the third straight game, the Matadors exceeded 90 points and their high-scoring offense carried them to their first 3-0 start since the 1983-84 season, as CSUN defeated the Cal State Bakersfield Roadrunners 92-76 at the Matadome Wednesday night.
CSUN had another balanced attack as six Matadors scored in double figures. Juniors Tremaine Townsend and Rodrigue Mels scored 16 points each, senior forward Jonathan Heard and junior guard Rob Haynes each scored 13 points and senior forward Calvin Chitwood and junior guard Josh Jenkins scored 11 points each. Townsend also grabbed 10 rebounds and Jenkins dished out 12 assists, giving them both double-doubles in the game.
“It’s just a matter of confidence,” Jenkins said. “When I’m out on the floor, I’m just calm and collective and I trust my teammates.”
Junior guard Terrance Johns led Bakersfield with 25 points on 7-16 shooting from the floor. Senior guard Zack Grasmick scored 15 points and junior forward Santwon Latunde had 13 points.
CSUN never trailed in the game, though Bakersfield did their best to stay with the Matadors throughout the first half. Northridge led 16-12 until CSUN opened up a little space, scoring eight straight points to lead by 12. The Roadrunners tried to keep pace the rest of the first half, but Mels got the Matadors going when he dunked home a Townsend miss with 2:02 to play in the first half. Mels drained a three under a minute later and on Bakersfield’s ensuing possession, forced a turnover, led a break and fed Heard for a dunk that gave CSUN a 54-35 lead with 38 seconds left in the half. A three by the Roadrunners’ Johns cut CSUN’s lead to 16 going into halftime.
CSUN led by as many as 23 points in the second half. Bakersfield continued to hang around, getting the Matador lead to as little as 11 points, but couldn’t get closer.
The Matadors shot 55 percent from the field and dominated in points in the paint (36-12), second chance points (20-9) and bench scoring (48-24).
“We have great depth,” Heard said. “Anyone can score on any given night on this team.”
Cal State Bakersfield is in its second year of a four-year transition period from Division II. The Roadrunners had warmed up for its game with CSUN in a huge way, upsetting Fresno State 65-64 back on Nov. 17 and losing to defending Big Sky Champion Weber State by only five points two days later, so Northridge wasn’t taking Bakersfield lightly.
“We were concerned,” head coach Bobby Braswell said. “We told our guys that we couldn’t afford to have a mental letdown at all because they’re a good basketball team. But our guys responded and stepped up.”
CSUN heads out to the Midwest for three games this week. The Matadors start out with a trip to Cleveland State to face the Vikings on Wednesday, followed by a weekend in Iowa for the Drake tournament. The Matadors’ first opponent is Duquense on Friday, followed by a matchup with either the host Bulldogs or North Carolina Central on Saturday.