By Zachary Rome, CSUN Media Relations Intern
NORTHRIDGE – CSUN Men’s Basketball (6-20, 3-9 BWC) led most of the game against UC Riverside Wednesday at The Matadome, but ultimately an 18-0 run by the Highlanders would prove to be too much for the shorthanded Matadors’ squad as they dropped a tough decision, 69-62.
Reggie Theus Jr. posted a career high and led CSUN with 19 points. Senior Tavrion Dawson also added 17 points, four rebounds and two steals while forward Lyrik Shreiner tallied 11 points and eight rebounds as well in the loss. Senior Micheal Warren tied a career high in rebounding with 12 boards on the night. The Matadors were up by nine (42-33) with 13:52 left in the game when the Highlanders went on an 18-0 run that would put them in the driver’s seat for the rest of the contest.
“I thought our guys did just enough to be ahead early, but for some reason they just didn’t have what it took to do more,” said head coach Reggie Theus. “Defensively, I think not having [Jonathan Guevera] hurt us tonight down the stretch. It’s hard to win games win you give up that many second chance points . [UC Riverside] didn’t shoot the ball much better, but they did have a stretch where they did shoot the ball well. They hit shots when they needed it, we didn’t get the stops when we needed it, and that’s really the reasons why they won the game.”
From the field, the Matadors shot 41.7 percent (25-for-60) but could not find the mark beyond the arc, where they finished the night shooting 29.4 percent (5-for-17). UCR got edged in overall field goal percentage (41.0) but the Highlanders found their stroke from deep, where they shot 40.0 percent (8-for-20). The Highlanders also beat the Matadors in second chance points by a margin of 18-6 as CSUN gave up 13 offensive rebounds in the process.
In the first half, CSUN made a strong showing. The Matadors enjoyed a great shooting performance by Theus Jr, even seeing the forward knock down a three in the early minutes. A back and forth game between both teams, Shreiner hit a 3-pointer to take a 26-24 lead with 3:45 left in the first half. CSUN would hold onto that lead and head into the locker room up 30-28 behind Theus Jr.’s 13 points and Shreiner’s seven.
Theus Jr. put one in on a feed from Dawson to begin the second half, upping the lead to four. The Matadors would continue to play well offensively in the opening minutes of the half, with a Dawson bucket that stretched the lead to 42-33 with 13:52 left in the game. At the moment it was the Matadors’ biggest lead of the game, but then a run by the Highlanders would turn the game around.
Two consecutive 3-pointers by Dikymbe Martin would give UCR a 43-42 lead and the Highlanders never looked back. UCR ended its 18-0 run up 51-42 with 7:46 on the clock as CSUN tried to play catch up from then on.
A Martin jumper would put UCR up 62-48 with 2:15 left to play. Terrell Gomez’s 3-pointer would cut the lead to as little as seven (66-59) in the final minute but two more Martin free throws would put UCR up by nine. Gomez hit another 3-pointer to trim the deficit to six but time, however, was not on CSUN’s side. After the trey, only nine seconds remained, and the Matadors had to foul to stop the clock.
Chance Murray’s made free throw would be the last score of the game. For UCR, Martin tallied a team high 18 points including 16 in the second half.
The Matadors go back on the road Saturday evening to play Cal State Fullerton with tip off slated for 6 p.m. The game will air live on ESPN3. An audio only broadcast will also be available on CSUN Sports Network presented by Dignity Health with Ghizal Hasan and Alan Zinsmeister on the call.