LONG BEACH, Calif. – Down by as many as 11 points in the second half, Cal State Northridge (6-15, 2-8 BWC) battled back and was able to decrease its deficit to only five entering the final minutes of Saturday's Big West game. But that was as close as the Matadors would get towards erasing Long Beach State's (17-6, 10-0 BWC) lead, as the 49ers made all six free throws taken throughout the final 80 seconds of the game to defeat CSUN 75-67 at the Walter Pyramid.
Led by sophomore guard Josh Greene who finished with a career-high 26 points, the Matadors nearly handed Long Beach its first conference loss of the season.
With each team recording nearly identical percentages from the field, Northridge shot 24-for-58 (41.4 percent) compared to Long Beach State's 23-for-56 (41.1 percent) effort, and finishing with seven made three-point field goals apiece, it was the 49ers success from the line that helped them maintain their spot atop the Big West standings with an undefeated conference record.
Northridge shot 12-of-17 (70.6 percent) from the line, Long Beach was successful in 22-of-39 (56.4 percent) attempts.
Said Northridge head coach Bobby Braswell, "I thought our defense was good enough, we just had too many empty possessions on our end."
Earning his sixth start of the season against a veteran Long Beach roster, freshman forward Stephen Maxwell recorded his second double-digit scoring effort in the last three games by finishing with 10 points.
Giving up as many as three inches to his opponents under the basket, Maxwell more than held his own against Long Beach's big men to collect 10 of CSUN's 40 rebounds.
Paced by T.J. Robinson and his 11 boards, Long Beach ended the game with 38 rebounds.
Successful in four of his five field goal attempts, and his only shot taken from three, Hayward-Mayhew was responsible for all but four of CSUN's 13 bench points.
"I was really pleased with John's effort tonight, even though he was plagued with foul trouble," said Braswell.
Held scoreless in the first half, Hicks made all seven points during CSUN's second-half scoring run, helping the Matadors erase the 49ers' 11-point lead in the process with 9:23 left in the game.
Tied at 54 apiece at that point of the game, the 49ers eventually built their lead back to a nine-point margin before Northridge trimmed it down to five.
Led by Larry Anderson who scored 16 points, four of the five members of the 49ers starting lineup scored double figures. Not included in that group was Casper Ware; against a Matador defense that forced the Big West standout to shoot 2-for-15 from the field, Ware finished with a season-low five points.
"I felt that we played hard," said Greene, "but there was one stretch where we were flat. We had some turnovers, missed shots, and missed block-outs. Against a team like Long Beach, you cannot have that. They are a talented team, but we are a talented team as well."
Cal State Northridge will continue its three-game road swing on Thursday, Feb. 9, at UC Davis. In addition to a televised broadcast provided by Comcast SportsNet California, a live internet radio feed and in-game Twitter updates will also be available on GoMatadors.com. Tipoff is scheduled for 8 p.m.