Men’s Basketball: CSUN wins back-to-back, tramples Big West champs Cal Poly 55-48
Footage courtesy of Lauren Bennett
The Matadors (6-13, 2-2 Big West) got their revenge from last year’s Big West Final against the Cal Poly Mustangs (8-8, 1-3 Big West), winning 55-48 in their Big West Home Opener Saturday night.
“This team had beaten us five times in a row and I wanted our guys to understand that you have to take certain things personally,” said CSUN head coach Reggie Theus. “We had to come out and establish something personal and mental for the next time we play them.”
It was a sluggish first half for both teams. A hard, gritty defensive game in the first five minutes had CSUN leading 8-4, before the Mustangs tied it all up just before halfway into the first, where both teams shot for 38.5 percent in the field. The Mustang’s defense proved worthy, forcing the likes of senior forwards Tre Hale-Edmerson and Stephan Hicks and sophomore guard Aaron Parks to miss three consecutive shots for CSUN. Senior forward Stephen Maxwell finally broke the slump for the team after the multiple missed attempts.
“We know their style of play and that they like to slow the game down,” said Maxwell, who earned his 37th career double double. “Coach told us to go into the contact and be focused on making our shots and for the most part I think we shot a high percentage.”
The Matadors struggled to penetrate the paint, but played good enough defense to keep the Mustangs at 15 points. Hicks, who tragically missed an earlier lay-up, made up for his mistake and dunked on the Mustangs defense to cut the lead to two. As the half came down to the last seconds, freshman guard Ajon Jefferson sank a bucket from downtown to end the first at 19-21.
Cal Poly came out hot for the second half. The Matadors, however, were on their tail and never let the Mustangs lead by more than seven. CSUN tied it up with 8:50 left in the game, and a pair of free throws from Parks gave the Matadors their first lead since the first half. Hicks replied with a floater to give the Matadors a two point lead, but a free throw at the other end cut it to one. Senior forward Devonte Elliott, who had another big night, dropped another 3-pointer to extend their lead to four.
“Scoring down low gives me a better opportunity to get on the outside and knock down my shot and get comfortable taking the shot,” said Elliott, who went three-for-four in free-throws and six for seven in shooting.
CSUN finished strong and their possession killed most of the Mustang’s precious time. Hicks closed the game out with a pair of free-throws, and the Matadors earned their second conference win against the Big West Champs.
The Matadors will continue their four game home-stand against the UC Irvine Anteaters in the Matadome at 7 p.m. Thursday to build upon their two-game winning streak.