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 bounce back, defeat head coach Andy Newman’s former team in thriller

Cal State Fullerton center Zachary Visentin contests Matador forward De’Sean Allen-Eikens’ three-point shot with less than five minutes left in the first half at the Premier America Credit Union Arena on Jan. 13 in Northridge, Calif.

After a disappointing blowout loss to UC Davis on the road, the Matadors (13-4, 4-1 Big West) returned home focused on grabbing a win, with head coach Andy Newman coaching against his former team, Cal State Fullerton (8-9, 1-4 Big West). Forward Jasman Sangha gave the team energy from the jump as he finished with 15 points and four offensive rebounds, giving CSUN multiple opportunities to score second-chance points.

The Matadors went down to the wire and edged past the Titans for a bounce-back 76-71 win on Saturday afternoon, with forward Keonte Jones leading the way with a team-high 17 points and six rebounds. He scored 13 of his points in the second half. Both Sangha and Guard Dionte Bostick chipped in with 15 points apiece, as the Matadors closed the game by outscoring Fullerton 12-6 in the final four minutes to pick up the close win.

“It’s just another game,” head coach Andy Newman said after coaching against his former team. “We just wanted our team to get back to playing better basketball, and it just happened to be against Cal State Fullerton.”

In a game that featured 12 lead changes and 16 ties, CSUN opened the game with an 8-2 start. Guard Gianni Hunt buried a pair of early threes to put CSUN up 15-9. But the Titans would stay in the game all night, as they scored six-straight points to even the game at 15, forcing Newman to call a timeout.

Coming out of the timeout, Bostick answered with a three, and the Matadors took a 27-21 lead after Bostick knocked down a few jumpers, followed by another jumper from Jones. The Titans evened the game again off a CSUN turnover and a missed shot. Fullerton eventually took the lead on a three-pointer and two late free throws to end the half, putting the Matadors down 36-34.

CSUN received a big lift from Sangha and Jones in the second half, as Jones scored 13 points in the period, while Sangha made back-to-back baskets to start the second. Bostick scored four straight points to give CSUN a close 45-43 lead. Off a steal from Jones, Sangha pushed the ball down the floor and made a layup plus the foul to give CSUN a 52-50 lead with just under 13:00 remaining.

“It felt really good to be there for my teammates and coach,” Sangha said. “Coach was preaching to us that we need to be more productive and aggressive out there, and it was on my mind to be more productive and score the ball.”

The Sangha points were crucial because CSUN was outscored 30-11 by Fullerton’s bench and gave up 15 points off turnovers in the game. The Matadors also struggled from the free throw line in the first half, shooting 50% from the line, and were very lucky to be down only two at the half.

Even with CSUN playing high-level basketball in the last few minutes, the Titans still refused to go away, as four consecutive points put the visitors back on top 54-52. With a slight 65-64 lead for the Titans, CSUN would get five successive defensive stops, including a clutch steal from forward Mahmoud Fofana that led to two free throws from Jones for a 71-65 lead.

Fullerton hit two three-pointers with less than a minute left in the game, but the Matadors made five free throws in the final minute to hold onto the victory.

“It was great to see Jasman step up,” Newman said. “He’s a stud, and seeing him grow and improve every day is awesome. We needed some productivity from him, and Jasman showed up big time.”

CSUN will stay on its home floor for a matchup against the defending Big West champion UC Santa Barbara on Thursday, Jan. 18 at 7 p.m. on ESPN+.

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