CSUN Heroic Effort Falls Short vs UCSB, 79-69
Box Score - CSUN vs UCSB
By Bob Vazquez, Assistant Athletics Director, Strategic Communications
Northridge, Calif. – Cal State Northridge head coach Reggie Theus doesn't shy away from the tough questions. Even in defeat, Theus always steps up to the podium in a post-game press conference and gives direct, honest answers whether the team wins or losses.
Despite a 37 percent shooting effort against a very good UC Santa Barbara team, Theus was in no mood to talk about the negative about the Matadors effort despite a 79-69 loss to the Gauchos in a Big West Conference game on Saturday night before a season-high crowd of 1,301 fans at the Matadome.
"This is a great group of guys to coach," Theus told reporters. "…One of the best groups I have ever been around. I love coaching them."
Cal State Northridge battled back several times from a deficit that could have easily gotten further out of sight.
UCSB controlled the pace of the game early. A quick 9-2 spurt at the 17:47 mark of the first half ballooned to a 14-point advantage, 28-14, with 5:55 before intermission.
Cal State Northridge fought back with a rally of its own. A 14-6 run cut the UCSB lead to 34-28 at halftime.
"I talked to the team about turning up the effort," Theus told the Matadors at halftime. "We played a pretty good first half of basketball. If you want to win the game, you need to turn up the effort …take it to a higher level."
Another CSUN rally started the second half. An 8-2 run tied the game at 36-36 at 18:53. The rally was helped by a three-pointer Josh Greene, who was fouled and made the free throw for a rare four-point play.
Stephen Maxwell then pulled the Matadors in front by three points, 39-36, at 17:59, thanks to a basket and a subsequent foul. That proved to be CSUN's biggest lead of the game.
"To take the lead in the second half was a great effort by the team," said Theus.
The Gauchos, however, mounted another rally. A 13-0 rally over a four-minute span gave the visitors a 49-39 lead.
The Matadors could not get any closer than six points.
UC Santa Barbara led 71-57 with 3:21 on the clock.
"We probably missed 20 shots within three feet of the rim," said Theus. "You can't win a game when you shoot 37 percent from the floor. That puts a lot of pressure on your defense.
Following a 40-minute effort two nights earlier at Cal Poly, Josh Greene churned out 39 minutes while two other starters, Stephan Hicks and Stephen Maxwell each collected 37 minutes against a Gaucho team that is a contender in the Big West Conference.
Greene ended the evening with a game-high 27 points (12-for-12 from the free throw line) while Maxwell collected his league leading ninth double-double of the year with 18 points and ten rebounds. Hicks had his fifth double-double of the season with ten points and ten rebounds.
For 40 minutes, Cal State Northridge faced a UC Santa Barbara front line that included the league's best player, 6-foot-8 Alan Williams (16 points, six rebounds), 6-foot-8 forward Taran Brown (12 points, three rebounds), 6-foot-10 forward Sam Beeler (ten points, three rebounds) and 6-foot-8 Mitch Brewe (eight rebounds).
CSUN's tallest players are Maxwell and Tre Hale-Edmerson, both at 6-foot-7.
"We knew their length was going to be a problem," said Theus. "Ultimately that was the most significant part of the game. We were not able to score around the basket. We took the lead in the second half and that was a tribute to the sheer effort the team was making."
UCSB's victory raised its season record to 11-5 overall and 2-1 in the Big West Conference. Cal State Northridge fell to 10-9 overall and 2-2 in the league.
Matador Memo …
Josh Greene and Stephan Hicks continued to inch up the career scoring ladder at Cal State Northridge … Greene's 27 points against UCSB give him 1,286 points to move past Jeff Parris (1,261 points, 1997-01) into sixth place in the CSUN record book … Hick's ten points give him 1,163 career points, eleventh place all-time and only ten points short of tenth place where future CSUN Hall of Fame Markus Carr resides (1,173 points, 1998-02) … Stephen Maxwell is also reaching a milestone … With 18 points against the Gauchos, Maxwell now has 975 career points, only 25 points short of reaching the 1,000 point plateau, a feat matched only by 17 Matador players … Josh Greene collected 12-of-12 free throws to give him a season percentage of .898 (76-for-86) … Greene's percentage is far above the school record of .869 (93-for-107) set by Chuck Malouf during the 1963-64 season.