Disappointing first half for Matadors

Ivan Yeo

The CSUN men’s basketball team ended their first half of conference play on a rather sour note, as the Matadors lost both of its games at home over the previous week, the first one a 67-57 setback to the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos on Jan. 25 and the second loss coming to the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Mustangs on Jan. 27.

Against the Gauchos, the Matadors managed to stay with them, leading 31-29 at the half, but the Gauchos took charge in the second half, leading by as many as 13 points on their way to the win and sole possession of third place in the conference.

Senior forward Terrell Jones continued his stellar play, scoring 11 points and grabbing 14 rebounds for his second career double-double as a Matador. Junior forward Jonathan Heard scored a team-high 17 points and fellow junior forward Calvin Chitwood scored 10 points,.But the Matadors were done in by its three-point shooting, as they shot a dismal 1-21 from behind the three-point line. For UC Santa Barbara, Chris Devine and Alex Harris scored 17 apiece. Justin Joyner scored 15 points and Cecil Brown had 11.

CSUN hoped to redeem itself against Cal Poly two nights later, but the Mustangs were just as uncooperative as the Gauchos, as they dealt the Matadors a humbling 79-68 defeat.

The weather outside the Matadome last Saturday consisted of rainy conditions, but it was Cal Poly that provided the rain inside the Matadome, as they connected on 20-25 three-pointers and got contributions from several different players.

Both teams got off to sluggish starts in the game’s opening minutes. Cal Poly didn’t score its first point until the 17:07 mark, when Trae Clark stole the ball from Tre Peters and took it all the way for the layup. CSUN took a little longer, getting on the board at the 15:20 mark on a layup by Jones. CSUN started to heat up soon after. A three-pointer by sophomore guard Rob Haynes gave the Matadors a 9-8 lead and Miller scored with 11:21 making it an 11-8 game. The lead did not last long though, and it was the last time CSUN led in the game, as Tyler McGinn nailed a three at 10:57 to tie the game at 11 and a three by Derek Stockalper 31 seconds later put Cal Poly back in front 14-11.

A Peters score was answered by another McGinn three, but scores by senior center Thomas Shewmake and Jones tied the game at 17. But that was the last time the two teams were knotted up, as Chaz Thomas converted a three-point play at 7:15 and later nailed a three to make it 23-17.

The Mustangs refused to relinquish the lead, eventually taking a 31-25 lead into the locker room. McGinn did the damage for Cal Poly in the first half, scoring 13 points on 5-9 shooting, 3-6 from the three-point line.

In the second half, it was Clark that applied the wrecking ball to the Matadors. Clark got things going in the early part of the second half. Thomas hit a three at 19:31 to give CSUN a 34-26 lead and another Clark triple at 17:27 gave Cal Poly a 41-31 lead, its first double digit lead of the game. CSUN got the lead to single-digits several times, the last time on a layup by Chitwood at 12:28 that made it 52-43 Cal Poly, but the Mustangs soon re-asserted control of the game. A jumper and a free-throw by Stockalper gave Cal Poly a 55-43 lead, which soon became a 61-43 lead thanks to triples by Thomas and Clark. Cal Poly was in cruise control from there, as they led by as many as 21 points. CSUN did go out on a positive note, as a triple by junior guard Rai Colston and two threes by freshman guard Lawrence Tyson reduced what would have been a 20-point loss to just 11.

Clark led all scorers with 19 points, 17 of them coming in the second half. Thomas scored 14 points, nine of them coming from the three-point line, Stockalper scored 12 points and Dawin Whiten scored 10.

Chitwood led the Matadors with 13 points and Jones scored 11. The loss to Cal Poly though now drops CSUN into a tie for sixth place with the Mustangs. The Matadors will try to pick up the pieces this coming Thursday, but the task won’t be easy, as they travel to the Walter Pyramid to face a Long Beach State 49er team looking to avenge its 90-83 loss to CSUN at the Matadome back on Jan. 13. CSUN then travels to the Bren Center to face the UC Irvine Anteaters two days later, both games are scheduled to start at 7 p.m.