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

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Matadors tested by Blazers at home in thrilling win

William Franco Espinosa
File photo. CSUN men’s basketball shows its camaraderie before the game against La Sierra at the Premier America Credit Union Arena on Nov. 7, 2022, in Northridge, Calif.

A week after blowing out the Bethesda Flames by 38 points on their home court, the Matadors (7-3) were given a more difficult challenge versus the Utah Tech Blazers (5-6), winning in dramatic fashion, 80-75.

It was a very intense game that saw multiple lead changes and ties, with the Matadors only pulling away in the final minutes. Dionte Bostick led the Matadors in scoring with 19 points, while Keonte Jones added 16 and De’Sean Allen-Eikens contributed 13. Coach Andy Newman said the Matadors showed spirit throughout the match.

“These guys are really fun to coach,” Newman said. “They play hard, they’re super coachable, and when they get it going, they’re a tough group to stop.”

The first half was a back-and-forth affair with neither team getting a clear advantage. While the Matadors built a 12-5 lead to start the match, the Blazers quickly made up the deficit as both teams went on to trade the lead nine times. Eventually, the Blazers took the lead at halftime through an Aric Demings jumper.

The Matadors would start the second half red hot, using an Allen-Eikens layup to fire up a 17-0 run and build a 54-39 lead. Jones spoke about the Matadors’ change in play style to begin the half.

“Just getting back to our principles, getting back to what we do best: rebounding and defense,” Jones said.

However, the Blazers steadily closed the gap as the game progressed, and as the second half moved on, the Matadors gave up a 14-5 run, reducing their lead to six. Soon, the lead was completely erased as the Blazers tied it at 68.

“We talked about defending and rebounding,” Newman said. “We really defended our butts off to push the lead to 15, but then we stopped, and our intensity fell.”

Things looked to be heading south for the Matadors as center Dearon Tucker fouled out, forcing Newman to replace him with Jasman Sangha.

However, Jones re-established control of the game for the Matadors as he assisted Sangha’s layup to regain the lead, before making a critical block on Blazers’ center Tanner Christensen and subsequently completing a 3-point play. Five free throws made by Bostick and Sangha helped the Matadors put the game away for good.

Newman further discussed the resilience the Matadors displayed late in the game.

“It’s gonna be really important for us to concentrate on the things that matter,” Newman said. “And it means giving everything you’ve got on the defensive end, and rebounding every missed shot.”

Offensively, the Matadors dominated the paint in the match, outscoring the Blazers 48-28 down low. In addition, CSUN shot 46.7% from the field, going 53.6% in the second half. However, they turned the ball over 15 times, compared to the Blazers’ 13.

On the defensive end, the Matadors recorded seven steals, and outrebounded the Blazers 43-34.
With this victory, the Matadors have matched their previous season’s win total of seven in just ten games.

Jones further described the team’s attitude having met last year’s total win record in fewer games.

“It’s a whole different team and program,” Jones said. “We’re not satisfied with seven wins. This team is always gonna be hungry.”

So far, the Matadors have not lost a match by more than 10 points. They will travel to Westwood Tuesday, December 19th to face the UCLA Bruins, a Sweet 16 team.

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