FRESNO, CA—CSUN Men’s Basketball (1-1) played Fresno State even throughout most of Monday’s contest but a late first-half Bulldog run would prove to be the difference in the Matadors’ 89-73 loss at the Save Mart Center. For the second-straight game, five Matadors scored in double figures, led by freshman Terrell Gomez who had 18 points and five assists. Lyrik Shreiner collected 16 points while Tavrion Dawson posted 11 points and four rebounds and Micheal Warren registered 10 points, six boards and three steals.
“The thing that’s most important about today’s game is that over half of our team have never played in game like this before, in this environment and against a team of that level,” said head coach Reggie Theus. “I thought for the most part they competed for most of the game. There were a couple of stretches where we made mistakes but you could see the promise, the effort and the potential of the team. If after every night we can say that we got a little better then I think it will be okay.”
CSUN finished shooting 46.3 percent from the field including 8-of-16 from the 3-point arc and 15-of-17 (88.2 percent) at the free throw line. In contrast, the Bulldogs shot an exceptional 62.5 percent from the field and 10-of-17 (58.8 percent) from downtown. Fresno State also held a narrow 30-26 edge in rebounds but posted a 48-24 advantage in points in the paint.
The Matadors got off to a red-hot start, hitting four of their first six shots to take a 10-4 lead at the 16:27 mark of the first half. The combination of Gomez and Shreiner paced the Matadors in the early going, scoring the team’s first 18 points.
The teams would trade baskets in the early minutes as Gomez knocked down a 3-pointer to put CSUN ahead 15-9 before Jahmel Taylor responded with a trey of his own down the other end of the court. On the ensuing possession, Shreiner nailed a mid-range jumper off a feed from Gomez to put CSUN back ahead 17-12 with 13:56 left to play.
CSUN kept pace with the Bulldogs despite lights out shooting from the home team. Fresno State scored five-straight points to take a 22-18 lead after a layup from Nate Grimes but the Matadors would again look to the long ball to get closer as Warren hit a 3-pointer from the corner. Moments later, Warren found the bottom of the net at the 8:04 mark to pull CSUN even at 25-25.
Playing the high-powered Bulldogs step-for-step for most of the first half, the Matadors would hit a dry spell and not score for over three minutes, allowing Fresno State to build a double-digit lead. The Bulldogs scored on six-straight possessions and went on a 14-0 run to open up a 39-25 advantage with just over 5:00 to play.
The Matadors cut the lead to as low as 42-32 before halftime, however the Bulldogs closed on another 8-2 run to take a 50-34 lead at the break.
After halftime, CSUN continued to show fight as a pair of baskets from Tavrion Dawson and a running lay-up from Shreiner trimmed the deficit to 54-40. However, Fresno State would not let the Matadors get any closer for the remainder of the contest.
Despite nearly 63 percent shooting from the Bulldogs in the second half, the Matadors fell behind by as many as 20 points (67-47) before losing 89-73. In all, the teams scored 39 points apiece in the period.
Also in the second half, Dawson scored all 11 of his points while Jalon Pipkins chipped in with 10 points. For the night, Pipkins did not miss a shot as he went 2-for-2 from the field and 5-for-5 at the free throw line.
For the Bulldogs, Deshon Taylor and Jahmel Taylor scored 18 points apiece to lead the team.
The Matadors continue the Cancun Challenge with a Saturday matchup at George Mason. Tip off is slated for 4:00 p.m.