The CSUN men’s basketball team came out firing early and often against Hope International and never looked back, breaking the 100-point barrier for the first time in three years, blowing out the Royals 117-55 Dec. 1 at the Matadome.
“When it comes down to a game like this, it’s about seeing whether we executed offensively, whether we played unselfishly, whether we played good defense and whether we rebounded the ball,” Braswell said. “We did all those things tonight.”
Junior Mike Efevberha’s 33 points led the way for the Matadors. Efevberha is ranked third in scoring among the nations best, with an average of 26 per game.
Besides Efevberha, four other Matadors scored in double figures; sophomore Jonathan Heard scored 17, juniors Terrell Jones had 16, Keith Everage had 13 and Austin Waggener recorded his second career double double scoring 11 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. For the Royals, Enrique Villarreal scored 15 points while the 5-foot-7 Joey Kennard added 13.
“I got to give it to my teammates,” Jones said. “They were the ones hitting me up when I was open, I was just playing basketball.”
CSUN opened the game on a quick 15-3 run with 13:09 left in the first half. Hope International stayed in the game for the next seven minutes, cutting the lead to 27-20 on a Travis Hardeman three-pointer with 6:14 remaining. CSUN, however, never let Hope International get any closer, stringing together a 12-7 run to lead 39-27.
The Matadors then scored the final 14 points of the half, going into the locker room leading 53-27. Efevberha had 15 first-half points and junior center Thomas Shewmake made his presence felt in the first half, scoring eight points and grabbing five rebounds.
In the second half, CSUN went up 57-27, sparked by an Austin Waggener tip-in. The Matadors continued to roll, maintaining their lead at the 30-point mark and going up 83-43 on a three-pointer by Efevberha. CSUN hit the 100-point mark on a Rob Haynes three-pointer with 6:07 remaining in the game. Haynes’ three also gave CSUN a staggering 52-point lead. The Matador lead then reached 61 points on a Heard layup with 2:07 remaining.
CSUN’s final point of the night came when Austen Powers strangely tipped in a missed three by Heard with 36 seconds remaining. The ball bounced off Powers’ fist while he was trying to box out for a rebound attempt inside. The ball then went high in the air and found its way into the net.
“What coach was preaching this week was that it really doesn’t matter who we’re playing against,” Waggener said. “We got to worry about our game and we should play the same, whether it’s Hope International or Duke University, we got to play with the same intensity.”
CSUN’s 117 points tied for third all-time in single game points. CSUN also scored 117 points on Dec. 7, 2002 against another National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics school, Bethany College. The Matadors scored 118 points against Bethany on Dec. 6, 1989, when CSUN was still in Division II as a member of the California Collegiate Athletics Association.
The highest single game point total for the Matadors came on Jan. 28, 1991, the schools first year in Division I, when they scored 123 against U.S. International.
“It doesn’t matter who we play, we know what we’re capable of doing,” Heard said. “We’re going to go hard, give 110 percent and just play our best game no matter what.”
Despite the point total and the margin of victory, Braswell stated that the win itself was just as important as the point total.
“Its just a number,” Braswell said. “We played well and that’s the good thing. That’s the thing that impressed me the most.”
With the win, CSUN improved to 4-1, its best start since the 2000-01 season, when CSUN won the Big Sky Conference. Hope International fell to 0-5 on the season. The Matadors head back out on the road to Cheney, Washington for a matchup with one of their former Big Sky Conference rivals, the Eastern Washington Eagles, who are currently 2-3. The game is set to be played Dec. 4 at 1:05 p.m.
Ivan Yeo can be reached at email@example.com.