The Matadors continued their winning ways as they slipped by Siena (1-2) in the second game of the National Urea Cycle Disorders Foundation challenge to match their best regular season start ever at 4-0.
Another strong game by redshirt sophomore Stephan Hicks, who once again led the team in scoring with 20 points on 7 of 13 shooting to go along with 10 rebounds, was complimented by sophomore forward Stephen Maxwell’s efficient night to give CSUN a hard-earned 68-64 victory.
Maxwell nearly matched Hick’s output with 19 points of his own but shot a better percentage, knocking down 7 of his 10 field goal attempts. He too had a double double by working the glass to pull down 10 rebounds.
Though both Hicks and Maxwell both had solid shooting games, the rest of the team didn’t follow suit as the Saints buckled down used a zone defense that held the Matadors to just 40 percent shooting. Junior guard Josh Greene finished with 11 points on 2 of 11 shooting (1 of 8 from downtown), but led the team in assists for the third game in a row and made crucial shots down the stretch, halting a late-game push made Siena. He finished a perfect 6 of 6 from the charity stripe and has racked up 20 assists the last three games.
“I thought their defense bothered us a little bit,” Braswell said in an interview with Northridge Athletics. “We just didn’t shoot the ball very well against their zone defense which they played 90 percent of the game. It slowed the tempo of the game. It put us on our heels a little bit.”
The Matadors — who recorded a season-low nine turnovers — went into the half up 34-31 and weren’t rattled when the Saints responded with a second half push which saw them taking a one point lead with less than a minute left to go in the game. Siena’s top player, forward O.D. Anosike, exploded for 16 of his 19 points in the final 20 minutes, but his effort was hampered when Greene made his lone 3-pointer of the game followed by four straight free throws, burying the Saints in the final 90 seconds of the game.
“We found a way to win,” Braswell said in the same interview. “If you’re going to be a good team, you’re going to have to find different ways to win. This was one of those gut check nights. It’s not going to be pretty. The fans are not going to like the way it looks, but you have to find a way to win.”
Hicks, who’s among the league leaders in free throw percentage (.935) is averaging 18.5 points and 8.5 rebounds per game this season on a blazing 60.5 field goal percentage. Maxwell and Greene are also among the team’s leaders in scoring, averaging 17.2 and 10.5 points per contest respectively.
Northridge got to the charity stripe often, shooting 75 percent (21 of 28) from the foul line, something Braswell said is an integral part of being a winning ball club.
“If you’re going to win games and be a championship caliber team, you have to hit your free throws,” Braswell said to in the press release.
The Matadors play their third game of the NUCDF challenge Saturday night against Tulsa.