CANCUN – CSUN Men’s Basketball (1-4) enjoyed a lead for most of Wednesday afternoon against Binghamton but a strong second-half Bearcat run led to a 70-65 Matador defeat at the Cancun Challenge in Mexico. Tavrion Dawson led all scorers with 23 points to go along with five rebounds, two steals and a block while Lyrik Shreiner posted 14 points and Micheal Warren had 12 points and six rebounds. In the middle, Zeno Lake collected a season-high 10 rebounds.
The Matadors finished with a higher field goal percentage (47.2), 3-point percentage (46.2) and free throw percentage (64.3) than Binghamton but a crucial 15-1 Bearcat run would turn the tide of the contest.
“We hit a rough patch. They went on that 15-1 run but it lasted a very long time,” said head coach Reggie Theus. “We missed about three layups at that point and people turned it over as well. In the end, it’s missing free throws down the stretch. We didn’t get much help off our bench today. Give [Timmy Rose] credit for hitting two big 3’s for them. There’s not much you can do about it.
“I thought we played well to be honest,” continued Theus “I have no issue with how we played and our effort. The team’s still learning how to win.”
Much like yesterday’s start, the Matadors started quickly and scored the game’s first five points. CSUN led 8-3 after an old-fashioned 3-point play from Dawson. During the early portions of the half, CSUN held Binghamton without a field goal for a four-minute stretch and a three-minute period.
CSUN would construct a 7-2 run to open up a 20-9 lead after Dawson finished in the lane. Along with 11 points from Dawson in the period, Shreiner gave the CSUN offense a boost as he scored nine of his 12 first-half points over the last 5:32. Shreiner’s drive to the hoop at the 2:09 mark gave the Matadors a 31-21 lead.
In front for the entire half, the Matadors went without a point for the final two minutes, giving the Bearcats an opportunity to score five-straight points and close to within 31-26 at intermission.
Warren began the second half in similar fashion to how he kicked off the game by knocking down a 3-pointer to push the lead to eight. Moments later, Lake finished at the rim to keep CSUN in front 36-29 with over three minutes gone in the period.
However, the tables would turn dramatically over a key three-minute stretch in the second half. After Dawson scored down low to put CSUN ahead 39-34 at the 14:21 mark, the Matadors did not hit another field goal for 3:12.
The Bearcats would lean on their outside shooting throughout the second half to close the gap. JC Show hit a 3-pointer to bring Binghamton within four and he later nailed another long ball to cut the CSUN lead to 39-37. Show, who scored 17 points, then gave the Bearcats their first lead on a steal and layup down the other end (40-39).
The Matadors evened the game on a free throw from Carl Brown but Binghamton responded with nine-straight points to cap off a 15-1 spurt.
CSUN would battle back and close to within 53-52 at the 7:04 mark on a jumper from Dawson. In the second half, Dawson scored 12 of his 23 points on 5-of-10 shooting.
The teams went back-and-forth down the stretch as each side hit big shots. After a jumper from Dawson brought CSUN to within two, Timmy Rose nailed a 3-pointer to push the lead to 62-57. Dawson responded with another jumper but Rose hit another 3-pointer on the ensuing possession. Not to be outdone, Warren hit a 3-pointer on the next possession to make it a 65-62 game with 1:57 left to play.
After a defensive stop, the Matadors had an opportunity to trim the Bearcat lead to one but Dawson missed two free throws. Binghamton would hit five of seven free throws down the stretch to stay on top. Terrell Gomez hit a long 3-pointer to cut the deficit to three with five seconds left but Everson Davis converted on two free throws down the other end to ice the game.
Following the Thanksgiving holiday, the Matadors return to the road next Tuesday (Nov. 28) for a matchup with California. Tip off is slated for 8 p.m.