The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

Got a tip? Have something you need to tell us? Contact us

Loading Recent Classifieds...

Matadors defeat Titans 82-74 to stay first in conference

Northridge swingman Jonathan Heard crouched on the court and looked on as his teammates warmed up during halftime, getting ready for what was about to ensue. Guard Deon Tresvant saw him, walked over and patted the back of his head as a sign of reassurance.

It was the metaphor of the game. Heard did almost everything, his teammates were there to support him and it all added up to the Matadors getting a whole foot nearer to that oh-ever-so-close conference title.

Heard scored 19 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and helped put on a defensive clinic against second-place CSU Fullerton as the Matadors went into the Titan Gym and came out with a hard-fought 82-74 win on Thursday night. The victory allowed Big West Conference-leading Northridge to put more distance between them and other league-title aspirers.

“We’re a tough team,” said Heard, who had suffered through eight consecutive losses to Fullerton before Thursday. “All the players on our team have heart. Give Fullerton all the credit, they’re a great team, but we were the tougher team tonight. We came out focused, knew what was at stake and what we had to do.”

Fullerton’s strength was their dooming on the night. One of the top three-point shooting teams in the conference, the Titans only made three of their 22 long-ball attempts. Northridge’s defense had a lot to do with that, as the Matadors forced Fullerton into missing 73 percent of their overall-attempts from the field. The Titans, however, more than made up for it at the free-throw line.

Fullerton trailed just 69-67 after guard Ray Reed sank two of the team’s 29 second-half free-throw attempts with 4:34 left in the game. Matador forward Calvin Chitwood, who missed the previous game with an ankle sprain, made a jumper at the other end to increase Northridge’s advantage. Then Heard made a layup, but the lead was cut again by more Titan free throws.

“They got to the free throw line early and we got in some foul trouble,” said Northridge head coach Bobby Braswell, who had four players on the verge of fouling out by game’s end. “But our bench stepped up and did a great job.”

The Matador bench outscored Fullerton’s by 21, but that didn’t prevent the Titans from getting within three with 2:30 to go. Nevertheless, a half-minute later, Heard found Tresvant alone in a corner for an uncontested three-pointer that made it 76-70. Fullerton forward Scott Cuttley answered with a layup, but Northridge worked the clock and put the game away at the free throw line. Matador point guard Josh Jenkins, who scored eight points and had seven assists, made five of his six attempts in that stretch. He also had fun with the crowd.

“I’m just an emotional person, I like to win,” said Jenkins, who had friendly exchanges with the home fans as Northridge was pulling away. “This year, I’ve been in good behavior. You just saw the dark side of me (teasing the fans) here and there. I just like to have fun and pump up the crowd. Being emotional is just me. That’s how I am.”

Once the final horn sounded, the emotional Jenkins got on top of a chair and saluted a small group of Matador fans that had made the long trip to watch their first-place team play. Heard, who is usually a bit less expressive than the guard, decided to stay on the ground and look forward instead.

“We feel good about (beating Fullerton), we’re going to cherish it, but we got another game (coming up),” said Heard, not thinking of the conference title as a given for his team despite holding a decent lead in the standings.

The Matadors, who shot 45 percent from the field, out-rebounded Fullerton 48-36. Forward Tremaine Townsend once again controlled the boards and grabbed 14 rebounds. Tresvant had 12 points, as did guard Rob Haynes.

Fullerton was led by Ray, who scored 18 points – 10 of which were from the free-throw line. Guard Frank Robinson scored 17. Titan standout Josh Akognon had a rough night from the field, misfiring on 10 of his 14 shot attempts and scoring only 12 points. Forward Scott Cuttley had 10 points.

The Matadors played at UC Irvine on Saturday and will return home to face another tough conference foe in UC Santa Barbara on Thursday at the Matadome. Tip-off is set for 7:05 p.m.

More to Discover