NORTHRIDGE – Sophomore Terrell Gomez posted a career-high 26 points to go with five 3-pointers while senior Blair Orr registered a career-best 15 points and six rebounds as CSUN Men’s Basketball (3-5) defeated Cal State San Marcos, 76-72, on Wednesday evening at The Matadome. Freshman Darius Brown II finished with nine points and seven assists in a career-high 37 minutes.
“I thought we were a little casual at times. You’re always happy to win but we certainly didn’t play our best,” said head coach Mark Gottfried. “We had a lot of guys out, and it was an opportunity for other guys to step up. I think Blair offensively made some big shots for us. Terrell was huge down the stretch.”
Playing without the Big West leader in scoring, Lamine Diane, along with freshmen Elijah Harkless and Teddy Ochieng and junior Rodney Henderson Jr., the Matadors were able to shoot an even 50.0 percent from the field while holding the opposition to 45.8 percent. Cal State San Marcos narrowly out-rebounded the Matadors 34-32 and enjoyed a 40-28 edge in points in the paint. Off the bench, the Matador reserves tallied 12 points led by eight from freshman Jared Pearre.
In the first half, CSUN scored the first five points before surging to a 10-2 lead on a 3-pointer from Gomez at the 15:07 mark. Gomez knocked down his first three shots from long range to help give the Matadors a nine-point edge in the period. However, the Cougars would fight back as a 10-2 run sparked by back-to-back baskets from Khalil Fuller on the inside gave Cal State San Marcos a 25-21 lead.
Led by Gomez’s 14 first-half points and eight from Orr, the Matadors would fight back. CSUN put together a 14-3 run over a 4:07 stretch to take a 35-28 lead. Pearre later threw down a dunk of an assist from Gomez in transition to help keep the Matadors in front. Michael Ou closed the Matador scoring in the half with a pair of free throws as CSUN took a 39-33 lead into intermission.
Five different Matadors scored baskets to open the half, capped off by a layup from Ou to stretch the lead to 52-43. The Cougars though remained within scoring distance, thanks in large part to Fuller who poured in 30 points on the night including 17 in the second half.
With the Cougars making a push, Orr would hit back-to-back jumpers to give the Matadors a 69-58 edge with 4:53 left to play. Cal State San Marcos scored six unanswered points to close within five points before Gomez hit a key 3-pointer from the corner with a little over two minutes on the clock. Fuller responded with a 3-point play on the other end and Darae Elliott nailed a jumper to trim the lead to 72-69.
After the Matadors came up empty on their next possession, Orr took a charge in the paint with 48 seconds on the clock. Brown and Gomez would hit two free throws apiece down the stretch to seal the win.
Gomez tied a career-high with nine field goals made (on 17 attempts) while he tied a season high with five 3-pointers. Orr also posted new career highs in field goals made (6), free throws made (3) and minutes played (32).
The Matadors return to action on Sunday afternoon for a road game at San Diego. Tip off is slated for 1 p.m. Ghizal Hasan and Alan Zinsmeister will be on the call in an audio only broadcast on the CSUN Sports Network presented by Dignity Health at 12:50 p.m.