By Bob Vazquez, Assistant Athletic Director, Media Relations
Northridge, Calif. – Aside from a highly entertaining basketball game between Cal State Northridge and Cal State Bakersfield, the Matadome pulsated with a high energy level thanks to the enthusiastic support of the students.
A crowd of nearly 1,200 fans, more than 90 percent of them students, filed into CSUN's home court to watch the Matadors face a good Cal State Bakersfield team on Wednesday night. Head coach Bobby Braswell and the entire Matador squad noticed the student enthusiasm that existed from the opening tipoff to the final seconds of this non-league game.
"An awesome, fantastic environment," said Braswell as he witnessed an overflow student crowd that beamed with a high-octane energy. "I feel bad we didn't win for our students. I hope they come back. I hope they remember that we are a young team that is still finding its way. Kudos to the fantastic student support tonight."
John Hayward-Mayhew, who collected a career-high 15 points for the Matadors, appreciated the undying positive attitude the student crowd displayed even though Cal State Bakersfield raced to a 17-point lead, 46-29, with 16:47 left in the game.
"The team really appreciated the large student turnout," said Hayward-Mayhew. "Even though we have only won one game this year, the students have really supported us with their attendance. We really appreciate the crowd when we get on a roll. They are really loud. We definitely feed off their energy."
Cal State Northridge dropped a 74-67 decision to Cal State Bakersfield, but there were plenty of positives to fill a reporters notebook. Stephen Maxwell, a freshman playing in his first collegiate game, collected a double-double with 20 points and eleven rebounds (8 offensive rebounds). Maxwell played 22 minutes in a reserve role and responded with seven baskets in ten attempts. Maxwell also added two steals.
"Stephen was clearly the most valuable, the most inspirational athlete on the court tonight," said Braswell. "We have missed that toughness all year long. Getting him back was a good thing for us. Even the rebounds he didn't get, he kept a lot of balls alive. I'm hoping some of the other players will feed off him a little bit. We need that toughness. He was also good defensively."
Cal State Northridge outrebounded the Roadrunners, 35-30. Stephen Hicks collected nine rebounds in addition to ten points. Josh Greene added ten points and three assists.
Cal State Bakersfield led by as many 17 points, 46-29, with 16:47 remaining in the game. Cal State Northridge mounted a valiant comeback in the next eight minutes. An Aqeel Quinn jumper at 8:24 remaining in the contest gave the Matadors a 52-51 lead.
Cal State Bakersfield fought back to take a 61-58 lead with 4:31 remaining. A Maxwell free throw pushed Cal State Northridge back in front, 62-61, with 3:27 remaining.
But an 11-2 run propelled the Roadrunners to a 72-64 lead with 22 seconds remaining.
Braswell didn't mince words about CSUN's defensive lapses.
"We're still a team that is not good defensively right now," Braswell told reporters. "After the first four minutes of the second half, we really turned our defensive pressure up. We forced them (CSUB) into several turnovers and that gave us some easy opportunities. But it just wasn't enough. We got ourselves in to deep a hole. It took a lot of energy to dig back into the game. I told the team when the score was 61-61 and got a free throw to pull ahead (62-61), we didn't need to score another basket as long as we defended."
But CSUB scored 13 points in the final 3:27 of the game to post a 74-67 victory over Cal State Northridge. Eleven of the 13 Bakersfield points were scored on free throws.
"Obviously that was very disappointing," said Braswell. "We're still not where we need to be defensively."
Issiah Grayson and Tyrone White each scored 17 points to lead Cal State Bakersfield.
The Roadrunners are now 4-1 while Cal State Northridge fell to 1-5.