The climate at the Matadome was hot Tuesday night. Fortunately for the Cal State Northridge men’s basketball team, so was the shooting hand of junior guard Jordan Noblitt.
Noblitt, a transfer out of Feather River Community College, scored a team-high 24 points, 18 from the three-point line, as CSUN closed out its exhibition schedule with an 89-63 win over the Cal Baptist Lancers.
“I just happened to be at the right spot at the right time,” Noblitt said. “People like (Jonathan) Heard demand a lot of attention. He drives, they double down, he just sees me open.”
Noblitt shot 62 percent from the field on 8-13 shooting, including 6-11 from the three-point line, which was good enough for 55 percent. Noblitt at one point in the second half connected on three straight and four of five from beyond the arc.
“We need a guy that can knock down shots and play like that and he played extremely well, we’re very happy about that,” head coach Bobby Braswell said about Noblitt’s performance.
Heard had 16 points, including three high-flying dunks, junior Calvin Chitwood had 12 points, 10 in the first half, and senior Terrell Jones scored all of his 11 points in the second half.
“We wanted to get a sense of where we’re at and just basically gain some confidence,” Heard said
The game was close throughout most of the first half. Cal Baptist had a 6-4 lead before a Calvin Chitwood dunk and a Jordan Noblitt score gave CSUN the lead.
CSUN never trailed again, though the Lancers never let them out of their sight, trailing by no more than four throughout the next seven minutes.
With the game tied at 21, Chitwood ignited another Matador run with another dunk, then two free throws and a three by Noblitt gave CSUN a 28-21 lead. Baptist scored six in a row to cut the deficit to 28-27, but CSUN kicked it into first gear, outscoring Cal Baptist 17-2 in the final 5:56 to take a 48-29 heading into the locker room.
CSUN opened the second half on a 17-2 run. Heard monstrously dunked home a Noblitt miss with two hands, and a steal and a layup by Tre Peters gave CSUN a 61-32 lead.
CSUN’s lead reached 30 on a three-pointer by Noblitt that made it 67-37 with 12:10 left in the game.
The Matadors’ largest advantage was 32 at 69-37 on a Rob Haynes layup with 10:39 left, but Baptist didn’t go away quietly, as they actually out-scored CSUN 23-8 throughout the next seven minutes to cut the deficit to 78-60.
CSUN, though, made one final push. Two free throws by Terrell Jones, a layup by Peters, another Jones score and a three by Haynes sealed the win for the Matadors.
CSUN’s only pet peeve continues to be turnovers. The Matadors committed 21 turnovers, one less than in their first exhibition against Cal State L.A., though the Matadors committed only eight in the second half.
“When you play the rapid pace that we play, we know we’re going to get some turnovers, but we don’t expect to get 21 turnovers,” Braswell said.
CSUN also stepped up its defensive intensity, as the Matadors scored 34 points off 28 Cal Baptist turnovers.
Cal Baptist was led by Junior Denson’s 18 points, Nick Johnson’s 16 points and 10 apiece from Andrew Bruckner and Mark Roussin.
The Matadors will now travel to Eugene, Ore. for their season opener at the Basketball Travelers Classic at the University of Oregon this weekend. The Matadors will start off against former Big Sky Conference rival Portland State on Friday at 4:30 p.m. The Matadors will then face host Oregon Ducks the next day at 3:30 p.m. and conclude their tournament slate against Lehigh University on Sunday at 12:30 p.m.
They return to Northridge for their home-opener on Nov. 15 against Redlands.