On senior night the Matadors closed out the regular season by handing their conference nemesis, Pacific, a share of the Big West regular season title after getting crushed 66-47 at the Matadome on Saturday night.
“They came out aggressive and they were playing for the championship,” said Mark Hill, who was one of six senior Matadors to get honored after losing to the Tigers. “They punched us and we didn’t punch back.”
The defeat gives CSUN (11-20, 6-10 Big West) its first 20-loss season since the 1995-96 campaign, the year before Bobby Braswell was hired as head coach.
Also, by falling to the Tigers (20-10, 12-4 Big West) and with UC Irvine defeating Cal Poly in overtime on Saturday night, the Matadors will get the eighth and final seed in the Big West Tournament. On Wednesday Northridge will open the tournament against No. 5 seed Cal State Fullerton at the Anaheim Convention Center.
From the get-go the Matadors dug themselves an early hole after the Tigers started the game on a 10-0 run.
The closest Northridge came to the Tigers was at the 6:46 mark in the first period, when senior guard Kenny Daniels, who scored a team-high 17 points, made a layup to cut Pacific’s lead to 19-16.
From then on the game got out of reach for the Matadors, as the Tigers went on a 12-0 run. CSUN went into the locker room down 35-21.
In the second half the Matadors never made a run to get back into the game and at one point fell behind by 24 points.
The 47 points the Matadors scored was the second lowest output in a game this season behind the 43 they totaled at Pacific on Jan. 2.
“Pacific wanted (this win) a whole lot more than us and our guys didn’t compete,” Braswell said in a post-game interview. “That was disappointing.”
The Matadors were ice cold from the field shooting 16-of-49 (32.7%). Northridge was also dismal from three-point range going 1-of-15.
CSUN had trouble all night against junior center Sam Willard, who scored a game-high 20 points and 11 rebounds. Junior guard Terrell Smith contributed a career-high 19 points.
Even though the defending Big West champion Matadors ended the regular season on a sour note and are the last seed in the tournament, they still feel optimistic about getting by the Titans and making another run to the NCAA Tournament.
“I feel that we are good enough to match up with (Fullerton),” Hill said. “We split games this season and lost a nail biter, where we should of won in triple overtime. We feel good going up against anybody.”