Matador Men’s Basketball began their 2005-06 season with three exhibition games over Labor Day weekend in Vancouver, British Columbia. Although basketball season does not get underway until Oct. 15, the Matadors were able to begin practice early in preparation for their trip to Canada.
“The early competition will give us a chance to evaluate where we are and give us some time to bond as a team and have some fun,” said head coach Bobby Braswell.
CSUN played its first game against Trinity Western University, winning in dramatic fashion 88-86. The next two games were played on Sunday, the first at noon against the University of British Columbia and the second at 7p.m. against the Burnaby Mountain All-Stars. The Matadors were downed by the UBC Thunderbirds 85-61, but bounced back with a solid 75-71 victory over Burnaby Mountain.
In their first game against TWU, the Matadors made some early season mistakes committing 32 fouls, but their opponents had the same troubles matching CSUN’s foul total. The two teams went into halftime tied at 44-44.
After the break, the Matadors found a way to take control of the game. Thanks in part to senior Bakari Altheimer, who drained four straight free throws in the final minute solidifying the win.
Freshman Austen Powers made his presence felt by scoring 12 points in his Matador debut while junior Thomas Shewmake recorded 13 rebounds. Freshman Jason Hill also contributed two steals along with a game-high five assists in the victory. The Matadors shot a consistent 44 percent from the field hitting 29 of 59 shots.
In their second game of the trip, CSUN matched up against UBC. Although coming off a victory a day prior, the Matadors came out looking lethargic, falling behind early by a score of 19-3. Unfortunately the Thunderbirds would never look back, controlling the tempo throughout the game, emerging victorious with a final score of 85-61.
In the loss, both Powers and Jonathan Heard recorded 10 points while Rob Haynes, Terrell Jones, Keith Everage and Shewmake all notched seven points of their own. This time the Matadors could not find the basket making only 39 percent of their shots compared to UBC’s 52 percent.
With just seven hours separating the third and final game from the second game loss to UBC, the Matadors stepped back onto the floor to take on the Burnaby Mountain All-Stars.
Although the Matadors got off to a slow start the team would rally back to enter halftime with a 34-33 lead. Then with only seven minutes passing in the second half, CSUN would stretch its lead to 10 points, securing the team a win to close out the weekend. Shewmake recorded four steals as well as a game-high 17 points. Heard and Everage also made their presence felt adding 11 points of their own.
The Matadors finished the Canada Exhibition with a record of 2-1 and more importantly, good early-season experience, which Braswell said he felt was necessary due to the team’s lack of collegiate experience. The young Matador roster has six freshmen, three sophomores, and two junior college transfers, including only one senior.
Matt Osias can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org