The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Men’s Basketball: Tired CSUN waver in the second half in 65-57 loss to UC Santa Barbara

File Photo/The Sundial

Following a fast start, the Matadors faltered in the second half (6-21, 2-10 Big West), and losing to the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos (13-11, 6-4 Big West), 65-57.

“We came out in the first half, we played really well, we did things we needed to do defensively, we made shots,” CSUN head coach Reggie Theus said. “Unfortunately the game is 40 minutes long.”

Early on, the Matadors were able to find success on offense by forcing the issue early inside, whether it was through sophomore guard Aaron Park’s penetrating ability or senior forward Stephen Maxwell’s effectiveness in the post.

Parks, who was starting in place of the injured junior guard Landon Drew, was able to get six early points, and draw multiple fouls as result of his drives. Behind Parks and Maxwell, the Matadors built a 16-15 lead with 12:19 left in the first half.

“I thought he [Parks] did a decent job,” Theus said. “Coming in and starting, playing point for the first time, since I bet, high school.”

The Gauchos were eventually able to recapture the lead, thanks to five points from junior guard Michael Bryson.

Then with 7:37 left in the first half and the Matadors trailing by three, freshman guard Taelin Webb drove down the lane and threw down a dunk on Bryson to change the complexion of this game for the rest of the half. Moments after that dunk, Webb caught the ball in transition and finished a layup through contact, to put the Matadors up 23-22 with a little over seven minutes left before halftime.

“I just tried to make a good play,” Webb said of his dunk. “Tried to get the momentum going, just use my athleticism a little bit.”

Webb’s statement plays were the catalyst for an 11-0 CSUN run which put the Matadors up 22-30 with 4:06 left in the half.

After building their largest lead of the game, Matadors became stagnant on offense, as UC Santa Barbara finished the half on a 9-3 run. CSUN finished the half clinging to a 32-29 lead.

Despite the late half struggles, the backcourt group of Webb, Parks and freshman guard Ajon Efferson were able to lift the Matadors’ offense, combining for 18 points on 5-8 shooting.

Following a shift in momentum during closing moments of the first half, the Matadors came out flat in the second half, starting 1-4 from the field with a turnover. The Gauchos on the other hand, were able to capitalize on the Matadors’ poor start by shooting 4-6 from the floor, and taking a 38-34 lead three minutes and 20 seconds into the half.

“In the first two minutes we missed four shots,” Theus said. “Then again, it puts a lot of pressure on your defense because now they’re coming down and making shots.”

A lack of stamina and turnovers doomed the Matadors for the next seven minutes, as the Gauchos went on an 11-5 run, giving them a sizable 49-39 lead with 11:08 left in the half.

“Unfortunately, I can yell and scream and guys are playing as hard as they can,” Theus said. “But when you get tired, you make mistakes.”

But like the first half, Webb’s insertion into the game provided the Matadors with a spark on offense, as he hit two 3-pointers to keep CSUN within five points with as little as 6:27 left in the game.

“When he’s making shots, he’s a pretty special athlete,” Theus said of Webb.

Although Webb ignited the team, the Matadors still found themselves treading water, as they were down 51-57 following a missed free throw by the Gauchos. With a chance to put real pressure on the Gauchos, CSUN suddenly went cold by missing three straight shots and the front of end of a one-and-one.

Those missed opportunities were particularly deflating for the Matadors, who quickly found themselves down 10 points after giving up two back-breaking offensive rebounds in the final 2:25, allowing the Gauchos to take precious time off the clock.

“It’s demoralizing and it sucks the energy out of your team when you give up two or three offensive rebounds,” Theus said. “It put so much pressure on your defense when that happens.”

Despite a valiant effort from their reserve guards, the Matadors once again did not have enough energy to cap off a crucial run or the game.

“I think they’re giving you everything they have,” Theus said. “But when fatigue starts to set in, it is what it is.”

After losing their eighth straight game, the Matadors will surely look to get back in the win column against Bethesda University Tuesday night at the Matadome.

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