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Matadors Drop Hard-Fought Battle at Fresno State

09 Dec 2021 | 06:50 | Basketball

FRESNO, Calif.—CSUN Men’s Basketball (3-4) dropped a 61-43 decision at Fresno State (7-1) on Saturday at the Save Mart Center. Elijah Hardy led the Matadors with 12 points in 33 minutes off the bench while Onyi Eyisi added 11 points and Darius Beane chipped in with 10 points. Playing short-handed, the Matadors trailed by as many as 25 points before cutting the deficit to 10 but the Bulldogs pulled away down the stretch for the victory.

Fresno State shot 42.9 percent while CSUN made 32.7 percent of its attempts from the field. Both sides struggled from 3-point range as the Bulldogs made 5-of-20 (25.0 percent) and the Matadors connected on 4-of-22 (18.2 percent). CSUN went 5-of-5 from the free throw line compared to the Bulldogs who hit 8-of-9 for the game. The Bulldogs edged the Matadors 34-33 in the rebounding department.

GAME BREAKDOWN
After scoring on their first possession, the Matadors committed eight turnovers over a seven-minute stretch while the Bulldogs capitalized with a 16-0 run. Beane finally broke the scoreless string with a jumper in the paint before Hardy cut the deficit to 10 points on a basket of his own. The Bulldogs though surged offensively throughout the first half, shooting over 53 percent while the Matadors were held to under 30 percent shooting.

Fresno State turned CSUN over 14 times in the opening stanza and capitalized with 17 points off those turnovers. Orlando Robinson led the Bulldogs with 17 points in the first 20 minutes on 6-of-10 shooting. Hardy ended the half with a jumper but the Matadors went into intermission trailing 39-17.

The Bulldogs stretched their lead to 25 points after Isaiah Hill knocked down a 3-pointer early in the second half. The Matadors though showed little quit down the stretch of the game. Beane gave the Matadors a lift offensively, scoring six-straight points before Hardy hit a 3-pointer to pull CSUN to within 18. Moments later, the Matadors cut the deficit further to 15 points on a traditional 3-point play from Eyisi, closing a CSUN 12-2 run.

After pulling to within 13 points, the Matadors missed six consecutive shots but finally picked up a 3-pointer from Brendan Harrick that cut the lead to 51-41 with 6:25 left to play. The Bulldogs would end a four-minute drought on a Deon Stroud jumper, helping slow the Matadors’ run. Hardy had an opportunity to cut the deficit to single digits but his shot went off the mark. Fresno State would right the ship in the final minutes while the Matadors missed their final six shot attempts to close the game. Stroud converted on a timely 3-point play with under four minutes to play and knocked down another jumper a minute later that completed a 10-0 run.

GAME NOTES
Christian Gray made his return to Fresno State after playing the past three seasons with the Bulldogs. Gray finished with a career-high 12 rebounds to go with two points and one block. Beane’s 10 points were a season-high as he finished 4-of-8 from the field with three rebounds and two assists.

Brown moved into a ninth-place tie with Jeff Parris (1997-01) on the Matadors’ all-time career games started list with his 93rd start of his career. Brown was limited to six minutes and left the game with an injury.

For Fresno State, Orlando Robinson scored a game-high 22 points while Stroud added 14 points off the bench.

ACCORDING TO COACH TRENT JOHNSON
“When you don’t have Atin, Darius going down with an injury and Fidelis under the weather, you’re playing without three of your top seven players. Basically, we were out of rhythm and it kind of snowballed on us [in the first half] so we had to make some adjustments in the second half. The guys that we were playing in the second half, a lot of times they were playing out of position. For the most part, I thought we played about as hard as we could under those circumstances versus a very good basketball team so I have to be pleased with that.”

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