By Bob Vazquez, Assistant Athletic Director (Media Relations)
San Diego, Calif. – Cal State Northridge raised its season opening record to 6-0 with a hard-earned 69-58 victory over Northern Kentucky during final day action on Sunday at the NUCDF Challenge at USD's Jenny Craig Pavilion.
Stephan Hicks led the Matadors to victory with 14 points and a game-high ten rebounds. During the four-day tournament, Hicks scored 75 points, grabbed 36 rebounds and collected nine steals. For his efforts, Hicks was named the tournament Most Valuable Player.
"Stephan (Hicks) played some great basketball," remarked head coach Bobby Braswell. "People know who he is, and a lot of defenses are locking in on him. But he still is finding a way to rebound the ball and is still finding ways to score and get to the free throw line."
Josh Greene also scored 14 points in the win over Northern Kentucky along with five assists. Greene, in addition to Hicks, was named to the all-tournament team. During the four victories by the Matadors, Greene tallied 64 points, 19 assists, ten steals, and went 30-of-32 from the free throw line.
"Josh had a fantastic tournament," said Braswell. "He hit some big shots when we needed it. He also knocked down his free throws. Josh has shown great leadership. He has great energy. Josh and Stephan (Hicks) certainly deserve to be on the all-tournament team.
The 6-0 record is the best season opening start since the Matadors moved to the NCAA Division I level in 1990-91.
Northern Kentucky jumped to a 12-4 lead at the 14:45 mark of the first half, but the Matadors rallied back to take a 26-24 halftime lead.
Cal State Northridge led the entire second half. CSUN enjoyed its biggest lead with a 64-49 with 3:16 to play.
Allan Guei was CSUN's third double-digit scorer with 13 points.
It was grueling to play four games in four nights at the NUCDF Challenge, but Braswell was not making any excuses.
"I knew we were a little worn down," said Braswell, "so we played a few more guys tonight. But it's a credit to this team that they were able to step up. We got great contributions from everybody on the team. Northern Kentucky is a very good, disciplined basketball team. They played us tough tonight, but we really picked it up defensively in the second half."
Cal State Northridge is the only unbeaten squad in the ten-team Big West Conference.
"These guys have bought into the whole idea of being a team," beamed Braswell. "I am blessed to have the right group of guys who have the right personalities who will listen and will allow themselves to be coached. They really don't care who scores or who gets the accolades. They want to win. They pull for each other. It's refreshing to see that as a coach."