The Matadors’ future opponents better hope that Northridge isn’t coming off a loss when they face them.
The Matadors bounced back from a disappointing road loss by picking apart defending Big West Conference champion Long Beach State 100-61 on Saturday at the Matadome.
Five players scored in double-digits, led by junior guard Deon Tresvant with 19 points and senior forward Jayme Miller with a season-high 18.
“It was a great outing for us tonight, obviously,” said head coach Bobby Braswell. “Every game, we challenge our guys to a set of goals defensively and offensively, and tonight they reached every one of those goals.”
Northridge (14-4, 6-0 Big West) got out of an early-game scoring slump and held the 49ers without a field goal for the last 7:10 of the first half to take a 47-26 lead into intermission. The Matadors only led 3-1 almost seven minutes into the game, but got their offense going via a quick 10-2. Senior Jonathan Heard had 11 of his 13 points in the first period.
“We started out slow, but we played defense and stayed with it,” said Heard, who also grabbed six rebounds. “I felt good. My teammates felt good. We were ready.”
The 49ers (4-14, 1-5) trailed by as many as 41 points and made only 37 percent of their shot attempts. Guard Donovan Morris scored 25 points to pace them, but committed three of his team’s 21 turnovers. The Matadors also out-rebounded Long Beach 42-29.
Forward Calvin Chitwood had 14 points and seven rebounds in his first game back since sustaining a high ankle sprain against Pacific on Jan. 15. He only logged 18 minutes of playing time, but it was surprising that he played at all.
“It was a lot sooner than expected, actually,” said Chitwood, speaking about his unexpected early return from injury. “But, I’m glad to be back and be part of the team, to run with these guys up and down the court again.”
An 18-6 scoring run capped by a long Tresvant three-pointer gave Northridge a 65-32 advantage with 9:56 remaining in the game. Long Beach responded with back-to-back baskets to keep the deficit under 30 points, but only for about 16 more seconds. Then, after trading point guard Josh Jenkins found Heard in the air for an alley-oop dunk to make it 75-40 and send the 1,471 fans in attendance into a frenzy.
“I feed off the crowd, whether its home or away,” said Jenkins, who had a game-high 11 assists. “I’m just a crowd pleaser. I try to do some nice moves and, you know, just throw it up there sometimes just to pump up the crowd.”
With the game already out of reach for the 49ers, the crowd began to take over the show. They treated the referees and visitors to a series of boos and chants that could be heard on Fox Sports Prime Ticket, who televised the game. The Red Rally put its seal on the game as they chanted “this game is over” with Northridge up 89-50 with just over five minutes left in the match. Braswell, the 12th-year coach, then put in his reserves to finish the game.
Northridge shot 52 percent from the field and made 11 of 25 three-pointers. Braswell, however, was far more pleased with his team’s defense.
“It all starts with defense for us. The points and total for the game is just gravy for us,” said Braswell. “If we’re defending, we’re going to get turnovers, we’re going to get easy baskets and we’re going to get a lot of opportunities. But, we’re still a work in progress.”
Reserve Tremaine Townsend scored 12 points and snatched eight rebounds for the Matadors. Guard Paul Wayne had four of Northridge’s 12 steals. No player logged more than 25 minutes.
With the win, Northridge is still unbeaten and first in the Big West standings. They’re one game ahead of Pacific (14-5, 5-1), whom they beat earlier this season at home. The Matadors will next face UC Irvine on Thursday at the Matadome at 7:05 p.m.