Five Matadors Finish in Double Figures as CSUN Dominates Cal Poly, 94-81
NORTHRIDGE, Calif. – Led by Josh Greene with 23 points, five Matadors finished in double figures to help Northridge end its four-game slide Wednesday night with a 94-81 victory over the Cal Poly Mustangs.
The victory also extends the Matadors' home win streak over the Mustangs to five games.
In addition to Greene, Vinnie McGhee shot 6-of-10, including 5-of-8 from three to finish with a season-high 19 points.
"I focused my efforts on getting my teammates involved," said McGhee, "and if I had an open shot, that is when I took it."
McGhee also ended the game with seven of CSUN's 14 assists.
"I think one of the reasons why we have been playing as well as we have been these last few games is because of Vinnie, our point guard play. Dishing out these assists during these last two games have been great for us," said Northridge head coach Bobby Braswell.
Stephen Maxwell earned his second double-double of the season with 16 points, and a game-high 12 boards to help his team outrebound the Mustangs by a 35-25 margin.
"Even though I am only 6-5, and playing against others who are 6-8 and 6-9, I just tried to use my athleticism to my advantage," explained Maxwell.
"It is just his heart," added Greene. "He (Maxwell) just outworks everyone under the basket."
Responsible for 15 of the Matadors' 21 bench points, Michael Lizarraga finished 5-for-5 from the field, and made all but one of his six free throw attempts to end his evening with a season-high 15 points.
Lizarraga's effort also matched his career high originally set at California (11/16/10) last season.
Completing CSUN's quintet of double-digit scorers, Stephan Hicks added 13 points to finish in double figures for the 21st time this season.
This is the second time that Northridge had five or more players finish with 10 or more points this season. In the Matadors' 99-58 win over Pacifica (12/17/11), Hicks (18), Greene (15), Maxwell (12), Allan Guei (11), Lizarraga (10), and Aqeel Quinn (10) led CSUN in scoring.
Prior to Wednesday's game, Cal Poly (15-12, 6-7 BWC) held its opponents to an average of 59.3 points per game. Thanks to a complete team effort by a Northridge lineup that shot 28-of-49 (57.1 percent) from the field, a season-high 32-of-43 (74.4 percent) from the free throw line, and 6-of-16 (37.5 percent) from three, the Matadors easily surpassed that average and scored more points against the Big West Conference's top-ranked defense than any other team this season.
The Matadors' 94 points were also the most allowed by Cal Poly to its opponent in the last three seasons.
During the first half, Cal Poly possessed a lead as large as eight points before the Matadors embarked on a 14-5 scoring run to take their first lead of the game with 3:45 left until halftime.
For the remaining minutes of the half, the lead changed from one team to the other five times before John Hayward-Mayhew gave CSUN the lead for good with his only field goal of the evening.
Connecting on his jump shot with one second left in the first half, Hayward-Mayhew's basket gave CSUN the lead at 44-43, an emotional boost heading into the locker room, and an advantage that the Matadors would not relinquish for the rest of the night.
At one point of the second half, Northridge built a 12-point lead - one that Cal Poly was able to decrease to as few as five with 4:58 remaining.
"In the beginning of the season, when teams made their scoring run, we tended to play nervous," explained Greene. "We are not that team anymore, other teams are going to make their shots, and we are going to make our shots too. We have matured, and are confident enough to know that our offense is strong enough to fight back."
From that point on, Northridge became even more aggressive on offense, exhibiting an amount of discipline and patience that frustrated a Cal Poly defense that was whistled for 10 of its 29 fouls throughout the game's final five minutes.
During that same timespan, Northridge, the conference's top team from the free throw line, was able to make 12 of its final 17 attempts from the charity stripe to maintain its lead until the final buzzer, and avenge its loss suffered earlier this season in San Luis Obispo.
"To see the way we came out to play tonight, with five guys scoring in double figures, and defend the way we did tonight, was very pleasing to see. We had a great team effort tonight," said Braswell.
Also helping CSUN's cause was the defensive presence of Frankie Eteuati. Even though he only played nine minutes, he earned three of his team's four blocked shots to push his team-high total to 22.
"We want to get these next games, coach (Braswell) wants us to get these three home games. We knocked off Cal Poly, and now we have two more," said McGhee.
Cal State Northridge will continue its three-game homestand against the Fresno State Bulldogs (11-16) in Saturday's Sears BracketBusters matchup. Tipoff will take place at 7:05 p.m.