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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Matadors win shootout against Pepperdine

Turns out playing Redlands was a huge benefit to the Cal State Northridge men’s basketball team while playing Pepperdine.

The Matadors faced the advanced version of the “press-n-shoot” system used by the Waves Saturday afternoon at the Matadome. The game lived up to its billing in terms of a high-scoring shootout, but the Matadors still came out with the one thing they really wanted: a win, as CSUN held off a feisty Waves squad 95-92 at the Matadome.

“One of the things you want to find out about your team as a coach is the type of character that they have and how they handle adversity,” head coach Bobby Braswell said. “It was good to see these guys respond the way they did. I was blessed by it as their coach.”

The Matadors were led by junior Jordan Noblitt, who scored 22 points, including 5-10 from the three-point line, some of which were badly-needed for the Matadors in key stretches.

“I got to give it to (Jonathan Heard) and (Rai Colston) and pretty much the whole team,” Noblitt said. “They see in the corner, I only shoot it.”

Heard had a double-double, scoring 20 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. Calvin Chitwood scored 18 points, though he was plagued by foul trouble throughout the afternoon, and senior Thomas Shewmake pulled down 10 boards. Pepperdine was led by Gregg Barlow’s 24 points, 16 points apiece from Marvin Lea and Chase Griffin, and Jason Wahlberg, the son of Waves head coach Vance Wahlberg, had 15. Pepperdine also went 7-19 from the three-point line, 6-13 in the second half, which enabled them to keep the game close.

“This (game) was about our toughness in our whole team,” Heard said. “Dealing with adversity brought us closer together.”

However, the two biggest plays were delivered by another senior, forward Terrell Jones. Jones hit two free throws with 37 seconds left to give CSUN the lead, then stripped Wahlberg of the ball while he drove in for a layup that all but ensured the Matadors’ fourth win in their first five games.

“I envisioned myself just like practice,” Jones said of the two free throws. “I just blocked out everything and shot free throws.”

The first half started out close. Pepperdine led 12-10 until the Matadors embarked on a 14-2 run, the last six coming from Noblitt, who hit two three’s to give the Matadors a 24-14 lead. Pepperdine responded with a 10-3 run to cut the lead down to 27-24, but the Matadors countered, this time with a 17-4 run, which was highlighted by a spectacular rebound dunk by Jayme Miller, as he slammed down a missed layup by Heard with two hands, which gave the Matadors a 44-28 lead.

Pepperdine continued to stay in the game, scoring eight of the next 10 points to get the Matador lead down to 10, but Noblitt hit a three with 21 seconds left to give CSUN a 49-36 lead at the half.

The Matadors scored the first four points of the second half to take a 53-36 lead. The Matadors kept the Waves at arm’s length for the next couple of minutes. Shewmake dunked home two points to give CSUN a 57-41 lead at 18:05, but the next five minutes demonstrated the effectiveness of Pepperdine’s much-hyped press-n-shoot system. Tom Pranciliauskas started the Waves’ rally with a three at 17:19. A Willie Gallick free throw and a Barlow score cut the Matadors’ lead to 10. A minute and a half went by before Wahlberg got a steal, went the other way, and hit a three to slice the lead under 10 points, Barlow then stole the ball from Jason Hill on the Matadors’ next possession and went all the way for the dunk. Pepperdine’s press forced another steal and and Lea hit an open three at the right side, capping off a 14-0 run that lasted just over five minutes, and sliced CSUN’s once huge lead to 57-55 at 13:51.

“When they get down, they don’t care, they don’t look at the scoreboard, they just keep playing their style, and that’s what they did,” Braswell said of Pepperdine. “I thought we looked at the scoreboard and we let our guard down. I thought we took some questionable shots that played into their type of game.”

Following a Matador timeout, Noblitt delivered a huge boost, as he hit a three in front of the Matador bench and, moreover, was fouled by Griffin on the shot attempt. Noblitt converted the foul shot to give the Matadors a 61-55 lead. A Heard score made it an eight-point game, but the Waves wouldn’t go away, stringing together a 7-2 run to get within a point, but two Jason Hill free throws and another Noblitt three gave CSUN a 71-67 lead with 10:12 to play.

Rai Colston delivered a three-point play to stretch the Matador lead to seven. Both teams traded points, but the Waves answered with six in a row to cut the lead back to one. Chitwood re-entered the game despite playing with four fouls and hit a three at the left to raise the lead back to four. Jarrad Henry dunked home two Waves points and scored again moments later to tie the game at 79, the first tie since 12-12.

A three-pointer by Noblitt did not stay in, and Barlow got the rebound for Pepperdine. The Waves worked the ball to Lea, who came through again with a three at the right side with 6:16 to go, which gave Pepperdine an 82-79 lead, its first lead since 12-10.

Two Kingsley Costain free throws stretched the Waves’ lead to five, but Rob Haynes answered with a three in front of the Matador bench. Lea hit one of two free throws for the Waves, and Heard hit two free throws. Then, following a Waves miss, Haynes took another three from the same spot that missed, but Austen Powers tipped the ball back in the basket, putting CSUN back in front 86-85.

Heard hit a free throw and scored off a Colston miss to raise the lead to three. Lea hit one of two free throws, which was followed by two Noblitt free throws that gave CSUN a 91-86 lead with 2:03 left in the game.

But just when it looked like the Matadors were home free, Pepperdine stormed back with six in a row to put CSUN on the ropes. Barlow recovered a loose ball and hit a jumper with 42 seconds left to give Pepperdine a 92-91 lead.

The Matadors quickly got the ball across midcourt and worked the ball to a cutting Jones, who was fouled while attempting a layup that barely missed. Jones stepped in and calmly stroked both foul shots to put the Matadors back in front.

Pepperdine got the ball across midcourt, then following a timeout, inbounded the ball to Wahlberg, who looked like he had an easy path to the basket, Jones stepped in however, and knocked the ball away from Wahlberg, retrieved it and quickly gave it up to Colston, who was fouled with 15 seconds left and hit both free throws.

Pepperdine still had one last shot to force overtime. Lea wisely ran the clock down, then took a three at the top of the key with three seconds left, but missed wide left and went out of bounds with five-tenths of a second left. Wahlberg did steal the inbounds pass near half-court, but the time wasn’t nearly enough to get a shot off and the Matadors came away with the nail-biting win.

Several other Matadors played key roles in the win. Colston was one of those key players, as his speed and ball-handling were valuable to CSUN against Pepperdine’s swarming defense.

“I just try and keep my composure because they were pressuring us and stuff,” Colston said. “I was looking for my teammates, trying to break the traps and finding people in the corner.”

Powers was another key player for the Matadors. Aside from his tip-in basket, Powers was a presence in the middle for the Matadors in the latter part of the second half while also grabbing six rebounds.

“Austen came in and was solid, he got big rebounds, made some great defensive plays, he just did what he was supposed to do,” Braswell said “I thought this was the best game of his career by far.”

CSUN headed out on the road to Normal, Illinois to face the Illinois State Redbirds yesterday night. The Matadors next travel to Tulsa University to face the Golden Eagles Saturday evening at 5 p.m. PST.

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