Matadors lose third straight game by double-digits

Ivan Yeo

Special to the Daily Sundial

The Cal State Northridge men’s basketball team continued to struggle as the UC Irvine Anteaters handed the Matadors their third straight loss 74-57, Feb.4 on Wells Fargo Court at the Matadome.

“We’re not a very competitive basketball team right now, which is a very strange place for me to be in,” head coach Bobby Braswell said. “We don’t have a fighting spirit in us, We get down, we get in a hole, and the leadership is lacking, we’re lacking guys who can really pull guys up at this point.”

The only good news for CSUN was they received a balance scoring attack. Sophomore Jonathan Heard led CSUN with 11 points while sophomore Calvin Chitwood, junior Mike Efevberha and freshman Rob Haynes each scored 10.

UC Irvine also had three players score in double figures. Shamar Armstrong, Aaron Fitzgerald and Ross Schrader each scored 13 points, though Schrader scored all his points in the first half.

The Anteaters also received help from the bench, as UCI’s bench outscored the Matador bench, 27-13.

Senior Bakari Altheimer started things off for CSUN by hitting two three-pointers as CSUN jumped out to an early 6-3 lead. UCI, however, quickly answered, taking an 8-6 lead on an Armstrong three.

The Anteaters continued to maintain their lead throughout the first half while CSUN, just like the game against Long Beach State, was again forced to play catch-up.

The Anteaters pushed their lead to 25-15 on a Schrader three. The lead grew to 41-27 on a Sanders free-throw with a little over a minute left in the first half, which ended up being the halftime score.

The Matadors tried to fight back early in the second half, going on an 11-5 run and cutting the lead to 46-36 on two Heard free throws.

CSUN, however, could not cut the deficit below ten points and the Anteaters went on 13-3 run, turning a sizable 55-44 cushion into a commanding 68-47 lead.

The Anteaters lead peaked at 74-52 with 1:16 left, though a Heard three with 32 seconds left kept CSUN from suffering back-to-back 20-point defeats.

The Matadors’ offensive woes continued, as they shot 32 percent from the field and 26 percent from behind the three point line. CSUN did not help its cause by shooting only 66 percent from the free throw line.

“We fell into the trap,” said Braswell. “We didn’t know what was coming, that’s how Irvine is, they’ll get in your head and they won’t play guys.”

Distraught from the loss and their recent struggles, which also included a 73-54 defeat at Cal Poly on Jan. 28., Altheimer called a players-only meeting after the game that lasted nearly 45 minutes.

“People said what they had to say, got stuff off their chest and I think it brought us closer,” Heard said.

CSUN will have its work cut out for them the next two weeks. The Matadors head out on a five-game road trip, starting Thursday at UC Riverside and culminating on Feb. 22 at Pacific.

Also included on the road trip is their Bracket Buster match up at Boise State on Feb. 18.

“Us being together that long, its going to give us more time to become that cohesive unit that we need to be,” said Efevberha.

The lone highlight of the day took place during halftime when the men’s soccer team was acknowledged for winning their first division I postseason game and going to the NCAA Sweet 16 .

The Matadors next home game will be against division-rival Pacific on Saturday, Feb. 25 at 3 p.m. The game will be televised on Fox Sports Net West 2.

Ivan Yeo can be reached at