Coming off an overtime victory against USC, the Matador men’s basketball team pulled out a 77-71 win over the Tulsa Golden Hurricanes in front of 1,423 fans at the Matadome Nov. 22.
Junior Mike Efevberha led all scorers with 36 points, hitting 14 of 25 shots. Junior Jonathan Heard chipped in with 15 points and junior Keith Everage had 14.
“I have never shot 25 shots before in my whole life,” Efevberha said. “I got to pick and choose my shots, (but) some of them were forced.”
The first 13 minutes of the game were forgettable for both teams. The Matadors scored only 18 points and had six turnovers, while the Golden Hurricanes managed only 16 points, turning the ball over 10 times.
With almost six minutes remaining, however, the Matador defense picked up. CSUN went on a 12-3 run, which pushed its lead to 30-19 with four minutes remaining in the first half, ending with an Efevberha jumper.
But Tulsa would give up, going on a 14-3 run to end the half and evening the score at 33-33 after a Ray Reese three pointer.
“I was not surprised to be tied at the half,” Efevberha said. “We were not executing on defense and we let them back into the game.”
Efevberha led the Matadors with 21 first-half points, and the next closest Matador was Heard with five first-half points. The Golden Hurricanes were led by sophomore Deion James, who had 10 first-half points. CSUN shot 43 percent the first half, compared with 46 for Tulsa, which also out-rebounded the Matadors 21-12.
“Tulsa sagged in a lot more on the defensive end,” Everage said. “They wanted us to take a lot of jump shots, so we had to fight through that.”
The second half saw Tulsa come out and take a brief lead, thanks to junior Charles Ramsdell’s three pointer. However, with three minutes gone by, Heard exploded for five quick points, including a monstrous alley-oop dunk from senior point guard Bakari Altheimer. The run gave the Matadors a 42-36 advantage with 16 minutes left in regulation. Again, Tulsa would not yet go away, cutting the lead to two, only three minutes later.
“We knew the game was close and we just felt like we were capable of doing more,” Heard said. “We had to put our pride behind us and make tough plays.”
With CSUN in need of a momentum boast, head coach Bobby Braswell instructed his team to run a full-court press. The Matadors found success, going on a 6-0 run, ending with a steal and a layup by freshman Jason Hill, that extended the CSUN lead to 51-45 with 12 minutes left.
It was no surprise that the Golden Hurricanes would not roll over and quit, as they did not the in previous situations throughout the game. Tulsa went on a 7-1 run in two minutes to take a 52-51 lead.
The Golden Hurricanes lead would not last long, thanks to the inside play of junior Jayme Miller. Aside from his early foul trouble, Miller was able to make his presence felt inside the key helping the Matadors regain lead back at 53-52.
Both teams would exchange baskets for the next four minutes, with the largest lead reaching five for CSUN on junior Keith Everage’s put-back with six minutes remaining.
CSUN would go on a 5-0 run that ended with a Heard layup, giving the Matadors a 66-58 lead.
But just like they did all game, Tulsa came back with a 10-0 run, ending with two sunk free throws by sophomore Brett McDade. The run gave Tulsa a late 68-66 advantage with less than three minutes to play.
The CSUN scoring drought, which lasted three minutes, would end on an Efevberha jump shot, which tied the game at 68.
Two Everage free throws gave the Matadors a short 70-68 lead, but Tulsa’s McDade hit two more free throws to tie the game at 70 with little over a minute to play.
CSUN needed a score and Efevberha provided it. With one minute left, he hit a wide open three pointer, which gave the Matadors a 73-70 lead, something they would not relinquish.
Tulsa missed on their next trip down the court and junior Thomas Shewmake grabbed the huge rebound, passing it to Altheimer, who was fouled. Altheimer made one of two free throws, giving the Matadors a two-possession lead.
With the CSUN lead reaching 74-71, Efevberha got fouled. Showing no signs of doubt, he stepped up to the line and hit nothing but net on both free-throws, giving the Matadors a 76-71 lead with 12 seconds left.
Efevberha was not done, as he stole the Tulsa in-bound pass and handed it off to Heard, who was immediately fouled. Heard made one of two free-throws to extend the CSUN lead to 77-71, which would be the final score.
“Close games are good for (us) because (we) find out what kind of character (we) have,” Braswell said. “I think we were chaotic tonight … I did see some good things out there today.”
Overall, the Matadors shot 41 percent for the game, 40 percent from three-point range, but only shot 68 percent from the free throw line.
The Matadors forced 28 turnovers and had 19 steals. Tulsa registered 16 assists.
Along with his 36 points, Efevberha had seven steals, two assists and a team-leading six rebounds. Heard led the team with eight assists, while Everage contributed with five rebounds.
Tulsa shot 46 percent from the field and a respectable 75 percent from the free-throw line. However, the Golden Hurricanes shot a dismal 22 percent from three-point range.
James led the Golden Hurricanes with 18 points, senior Anthony Price chipped in with 13 points and junior Charles Ramsdell had 10 points.
Next up for the 2-0 Matadors will be Northeastern in the Golden Bear Classic at the University of California in Berkley beginning on Nov. 25 at 5 p.m.
“Northeastern has an NBA prospect on their squad,” Braswell said. “We are not looking past Northeastern. They have a very good team.”
Justin Satzman can be reached at email@example.com.