CSUN (4-11) started off the new year with a 78-62 win over Morgan State (2-13) in a non-conference game Friday night, snapping their four game losing streak.
With the Big West Conference games just around the corner, the Matadors looked to relinquish their terrible form and start on a high note entering the new year with their game against the Morgan State Bears. Four players scored in double digits to lead the Matadors to their fourth win this season.
“It’s a very good win for a us – a much needed one,” head coach Reggie Theus said. “When you got guys coming in to the game and giving you a lift, it makes a big difference.”
Both teams took nearly two minutes to score, with senior forward Stephan Hicks dropping a three-pointer for CSUN’s first points. The Matadors would go on a 9-0 run from there within the first five minutes of play.
Morgan State cut the lead with a basket from downtown, but junior guard Drew instantly replied with his very own three-pointer. Drew shot back-to-back threes with Morgan State guard Donte Pretlow before extending their lead to 26-12.
Senior guard Stephen Maxwell threw down his very own highlight reel with a dunk midway into the half, and the Matadors looked strong both offensively and defensively until that point. CSUN’s lead was cut to five before Drew sank another three-pointer to give the Matadors some breathing space.
Both teams would eventually go back and forth with three-pointers in the first half, but CSUN continued to keep a 45-40 lead going into the second half. Drew, Hicks and Maxwell all closed the half in double figures for points.
“When you stay aggressive, your shots fall,” said Hicks, who ended the game with 22 points. “Once one shot falls the others start going. I think what was huge for me to get going was first shot which was a three because I hadn’t hit one all year.”
Maxwell would continued his hot streak and opened up the scoring for the Matadors in the second half with a fade away in the paint. The second half stayed quite quiet as the Bears only scored off free throws as the Matadors lead 50-44.
The Bears kept their foot on the pedal and stayed in the game for most of the first 10 minutes of the second half, keeping the Matadors at a five point lead.
A far two-pointer from senior guard Tre Hale-Edmerson, who had a career-high six assists, and Hick’s lay-up from a fast break gave the Matadors a more comfortable 55-44 lead. But, again, the Bears climbed back with another shot from downtown and a fast break lay-up of their own to cut the lead to 55-49.
“The defense was solid,” Theus said. “We made a couple of mistakes early in the game, but for the most part, they executed.”
Back-to-back layups from the post and countless free throws from Maxwell lifted the Matadors to a more comfortable lead. Freshman guard Taelin Webb sank multiple free throws to restore CSUN’s 10 point lead over the Bears.
The Matadors kept the lead as senior center Devonte Elliott ended the game with a floater to give CSUN a 78-62 win over the bears.
CSUN will begin their Big West Conference matchups next week on Jan. 7th against UC Davis.
“Now that we’ve won a game, we’re taking this confidence and this win into Davis,” Hicks said. “We got to keep playing and keep having energy on the defense and the offense.”