Matadors Lead Wire-to-Wire in 56-52 Win at San Diego

09 Dec 2021 | 03:20 | Basketball

SAN DIEGO, Calif.—CSUN Men’s Basketball (3-3) won its third-straight game in a wire-to-wire 56-52 triumph at San Diego on Sunday at the Jenny Craig Pavilion. Atin Wright led all Matadors in scoring with 16 points while Darius Brown II added 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting. CSUN led by as many as 15 points in the second half and held off a late charge from the Toreros to pick up the road win.

The Matadors finished shooting 39.3 percent from the field while the Toreros were held to 33.3 percent for the game. CSUN went 0-of-9 from 3-point range but was a perfect 8-of-8 at the free throw line. USD made 4-of-22 from downtown (18.2 percent) and 8-of-10 free throws (80.0 percent). The Toreros outrebounded the Matadors 44-33 while CSUN led 18-6 in points off turnovers.

The Matadors scored the first six points before the Toreros finally cracked the scoring column three minutes into the game. CSUN would open up a 14-5 lead following another 6-0 run that was capped by a layup from Fidelis Okereke. The Matadors’ defense would be the story of the first half, holding the Toreros to just seven points for the first 13-plus minutes. After baskets from Wright and Brendan HarrickOnyi Eyisi found the bottom of the net inside to push the CSUN lead to 20-7.

CSUN committed just one turnover in the first half while it received scoring from seven different players. The Toreros would cut the deficit to 22-17 but Wright and Harrick found the bottom of the net to keep CSUN in front. Wright would hit back-to-back jumpers to end the half, giving the Matadors a 30-18 lead.

Christian Gray threw down a putback dunk to kick off the second half as the Matadors continued to lead by double-digits for most of the period. Wright picked up a steal and easy basket that pushed the CSUN lead to its biggest at 40-25 with 14:02 to play. After a sluggish first half, the Toreros began to right the ship and chipped away at the Matadors’ lead. USD cut the deficit to six points on a Wayne McKinney III layup, completing a 6-0 run. CSUN though received timely baskets from Eyisi and Elijah Hardy to go back ahead by double digits.

The lead stood at 54-42 after a Wright layup at the 4:51 mark but the Matadors would not make another field goal the rest of the way. USD capitalized with a 10-0 run following back-to-back layups from Vladimir Pinchuk with a minute to play. CSUN looked to break the scoreless string on a Gray drive to the hoop but Pinchuk blocked the shot attempt. USD drove the ball the other way and appeared as though it would tie the game up. Bryce Monroe moved his way to the paint before Harrick collected a timely block with 22 seconds to play. Moments later, Harrick blocked another shot, this time from 3-point range off the hands of Joey Calcaterra, and would collect a defensive rebound. After a USD foul, Wright sealed the win with two late free throws.

Eyisi finished with eight points and a team-high eight rebounds while Harrick added six points, three rebounds and two blocks. Hardy also posted six points and five rebounds in 19 minutes.

Brown collected two steals to move into a ninth-place tie with Brooklyn McLinn (1989-94) on the Matadors’ all-time career steals list. With 134 career steals, Brown is just three steals away from tying Tre Hale-Edmerson (2012-16) for eighth on the list.

The Matadors snapped a two-game skid against San Diego and picked up their first win over the Toreros since 2012.

For USD, Marcellus Earlington had a game-high 20 points.

“The team we were fortunate enough to beat this afternoon is a very good team – a very skilled team and they’ve been on the road a lot. I thought we played about as hard as we have defensively for 35 minutes. The things we’ve improved on, and there are two things you can control, your attitude and your effort. If you listen, good things are going to happen. We wanted to improve on our rebounding, we wanted to improve with our decision making, which was skeptical the last three or four minutes. But these guys haven’t been in situations where they’ve had a lead and won games so we’re improving as the season progresses.”

CSUN hits the road once more on Saturday, Dec. 4 against Fresno State. Tip-off is slated for 4 p.m. on the Mountain West Network. Ghizal Hasan and Alan Zinsmeister have the call on