After losing three of their last four games, the Cal State Northridge men’s basketball team beat UC Davis 75-69 for their tenth victory of the season and their second over the Aggies, Feb.14 at the Pavilion in Davis.
With the win, the Matadors improved their record to 10-12 overall and stayed 3-7 in conference. Even though the Matadors played the Aggies twice this season, UC Davis will not be a member of the Big West Conference until the 2007-08 season.
In the first half, the Matadors came out of the locker room quickly. After being down 7-4, CSUN went on a 9-2 run over the next four minutes and led 13-9 with 14 minutes left in the first half.
The Aggies, however, responded with a 7-0 run, helped by a Rommel Marentez three-pointer and capped off by a Phil Rassussen bucket, which gave UC Davis a 16-13 lead with 13 minutes left in the half.
With UC Davis up 16-15, Marentez scored the next seven Aggie points, making it 23-17 at the seven minute mark.
Both teams traded points over the next three minutes as UC Davis led 30-24 with four minutes remaining.
The Matadors got hot again, running off 11 straight points to claim a 35-30 lead with just under a minute to play in the half.
The Matadors went to the locker room with a 37-32 lead, which is good news because CSUN is 9-2 when leading or tied at halftime and 0-10 when trailing at the break.
It was UC Davis, however, that started off the second half well. The Aggies went on a 5-0 run, all by Thomas Juillerat, and tied the game at 37 after a Juillerat fast-break layup two minutes into the second half.
CSUN, however, came back with a 15-3 run to reclaim the lead for good.
The Matadors led by as many as 16 points when junior Thomas Shewmake scored on a layup with six minutes remaining, making the score 64-48.
UC Davis would not give up as the Aggies went on an 11-0 run in less than three minutes to pull within 64-59 with a little over three minutes to play. Juillerat scored the first nine points of the run, which was capped off by a David Carter layup off a Matador turnover.
The Aggies would get as close as four points, but the Matadors scored all but three of their final 11 points from the free throw line. The only field goal was a three-pointer by junior Calvin Chitwood that gave CSUN the victory with 51 seconds remaining.
The Matadors were led by junior Mike Efevberha’s 19 points on 6-for-13 shooting in his 36 minutes. It was the first time Efevberha scored his average in more than five games.
In the last six games, Efevberha has averaged just 9.7 points per game in 19.5 minutes per game. Additionally, he has shot just 30 percent from the field and 28 percent from three-point range during that stretch. The five points he scored at Cal State Fullerton was his second-lowest of the season.
Chitwood contributed with 17 points and 11 rebounds in his 33 minutes and sophomore Johnathan Heard chipped in 13 points in 30 minutes. Thomas Shewmake also contributed with nine points, seven rebounds, four assists, three steals and two blocks in just 24 minutes.
Marentez scored a season-high 26 points, and Juillerat added a career-high 24 for UC Davis in the loss.
For the game, CSUN shot an impressive 59 percent from the field but let UC Davis shoot 53 percent from the field.
The Matadors, however, committed 25 turnovers and only forced the Aggies into 18. CSUN, however, dominated the boards, outrebounding UC Davis 36-14.
The road trip continues for the Matadors as they head to Boise State to play their BracketBuster on Feb. 18 at 7:30 p.m in Taco Bell Arena. CSUN will then head up to Pacific to play the arch-rival Tigers on Feb. 22 before coming home to play the Tigers on Feb. 25 at 3 p.m. at the Matadome.
Justin Satzman can be reached at email@example.com.