By Bob Vazquez, Assistant Athletic Director, Media Relations
Los Angeles, Ca. – The final score was a lot closer than the score indicated.
The USC Trojans handed the Matadors a 66-59 loss in the season opener for both teams on Friday night at the Galen Center. It was a contest the Matadors could have won.
The Matadors displayed an amazing display of toughness, determination and pride even after they struggled with some early game scoring problems to dig themselves an early ditch.
"I was really proud of the team," said Matador head coach Bobby Braswell. "I thought we had a great effort tonight. Defensively, I thought we did a pretty good job of mixing it up. But we couldn't make shots early and give credit to USC. Some of our early misses were shots we normally make."
Cal State Northridge started the game missing its first nine shots, and at one point was 1-for-17 from the field. The shooting woes helped the Trojans build a 23-10 lead with 4:19 lead in the first half.
But CSUN refused to fold cutting the USC lead to only six points at 25-19 with 1:20 remaining before halftime.
Cal State Northridge was only down, 29-21, at halftime despite the fact CSUN hit only 4-of-29 shots from the floor for 14 percent. USC shot 42 percent (10-for-24).
The Matadors readjusted at halftime and demonstrated to the Trojans they were here to compete and possibly beat the Trojans for a second straight time in the six-game series.
And compete CSUN did. Vinnie McGhee helped sparked the Matador comeback. Eight straight points by the senior guard including two three-pointers gave CSUN its first lead of the game, 52-50 with 5:25 to play.
Then Stephan Hicks, who tallied a game-high 19 points in his first collegiate game, scored on a layup with 4:49 to play to give the Matadors a 54-50, their biggest lead of the game.
But USC regained the momentum by scoring eight straight points to take a 58-54 lead with 2:17 remaining.
Cal State Northridge cut the margin to two points, 61-69, on two free throws by Thomas Jacobs with 1:16 remaining.
But USC, a team that featured two seven-footers, was able to pull away to seal the seven-point win, 66-59.
In addition to Hicks' game-high 19 points, the redshirt freshman added a team-high eight rebounds. McGhee and freshman guard Allan Guei each added 14 points.
Cal State Northridge heads west for an ESPN game against the University on Hawaii on Monday, Nov 14 (11:00 p.m. HT; 1:00 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 15 PT).