Northridge Drops Heartbreaker to Cal State Fullerton, 70-68

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. – Trailing by as many as 10 points in the second half to a veteran Cal State Fullerton squad, Cal State Northridge battled back to tie the game at 68 apiece with 75 seconds left on the clock. Unfortunately for CSUN, a layup by Fullerton's Kwame Vaughn with four seconds remaining was the difference in the game, as the Matadors were defeated 70-68 in Thursday night's Big West contest.

"We played well enough to win," said Northridge head coach Bobby Braswell, "but we just came up a little short."

Finishing with a team-high 18 points and 10 rebounds, Stephan Hicks recorded his fourth double-double of the season. In addition to Hicks, Josh Greene and Vinnie McGhee also finished in double figures, adding 14 and 13 points apiece.

Down 61-51 at the 8:50 mark of the second half, the Matadors battled back and scored 13 unanswered points to take a five-point lead heading into the final minutes of the game.

Responsible for the first five points of that run, Greene also scored the final two points for Northridge (5-13, 2-6 BWC) before Fullerton (13-6, 5-2 BWC) was able to snap its scoring drought and pull within three.

For nearly a five-minute timespan, Northridge did not allow the No. 1 offense in the Big West to score a single point. Conversely, the Matadors were able to score on six straight possessions to take a late-game lead.

Two blocked shots by Frankie Eteuati, and a steal by Greene helped energize the crowd at the Matadome throughout CSUN's run; a breakaway dunk by Stephen Maxwell and back-to-back free throws by Hicks brought the Matador faithful to their feet, forcing Fullerton to take a timeout down by one. 

"The fans were fired up in the second half and were really supportive," said Braswell. "It was really good to see the students back on campus." 

Two free throws by McGhee extended CSUN's advantage to three, with Greene capping off his team's scoring run four minutes after it began.

Once Fullerton's D.J. Seeley ended his team's drought, the Titans proceeded to score the next five points to take a two-point lead with 1:44 remaining.

Connecting on his only free throw attempts of the night, Quinn tied the game at 68-68, preserving his team's chance to extend its win streak over Fullerton in the process. 

Connecting on 16-of-18 free throw attempts, the Matadors set a new season high with its 88.9 percent performance at the line.

Entering with wins in its last three head-to-head meetings against Fullerton, Northridge fell just a few seconds short of stretching it to four as Vaughn's basket ended up being the final one made by either team.

"Down by as many as 10 in the second half, we could have folded our tent and quit. But these guys did not do that," said Braswell. "I am proud of them for doing that."

Successful in 22 of its 56 field goal attempts (39.3 percent), Northridge also shot 8-of-16 (50 percent) from three-point distance.

Said Greene, "From that embarrassing loss on Saturday, to now, I am really proud of this team. We need take all the positive things from this (game), and prepare for Saturday."

As the first Big West team to complete its first round of conference games, the Matadors will now look to avenge its early-season loss to Cal State Bakersfield in Saturday's non-conference road matchup. Live stats and an internet radio broadcast will be available at GoMatadors.com, tipoff at the Icardo Center is scheduled for 7 p.m.