The CSUN men’s basketball team started their season off on the right foot on Friday as they defeated Ponoma-Pitzer by a final score of 96-72.
Junior guard and recent transfer from Washington University, Darin Johnson led the Matador’s with 20 points in the game as he was efficient from beyond the three-point line, knocking down four out of his five attempts.
Johnson said the transition from Washington to CSUN has benefited him as a basketball player.
“I became more comfortable and I decided to trust and buy into what we are doing here,” Johnson said. “Me doing that has really made a big change in the way I play and the intensity I bring to the court and it’s just a process of me maturing. I had to go through that. It’s baby steps but I’d rather take baby steps forward than backward.”
CSUN outscored the Sagehens 50 to 24 in the paint.
Matadors head coach Reggie Theus was pleased with his team’s effort but acknowledged that some of the mistakes they made against the Sagehens can’t becmade against the Matadors next opponent, the UCLA Bruins.
“Anytime you get 20 fast break points and you get 50 points in the paint, your going to have a great opportunity,” Theus said. ”I thought giving up 12 offensive rebounds to these guys was not our best effort. Holding these guys to 24 percent shooting in the first half and 31 in the second half, that’s the kind of defense we need and that’s the kind of effort we have to sustain. That said, were going to have to play a lot better basketball against UCLA.”
The Matador’s had four players score 15 points or more in the contest. Junior Kendall Smith scored 17 points and added seven assists while senior guard Aaron Parks added 16 points to go along with eight rebounds.
Junior forward Tavrion Dawson had 15 points, all coming inside, and hopes to keep the momentum from this game going against the Bruins.
“I think we played well. We got some chemistry going, played up tempo, we just got to keep playing together,” Dawson said. “That’s a big game for us. We just wanted to come in get a little momentum going, we know we got to play way better against those guys.”
CSUN’s next game is against UCLa today at Pauley Pavilion. Tip-off starts at 6 p.m.