NORTHRIDGE — Lorenzo Romar’s Waves beat Mark Gottfried’s CSUN Matadors 94-82 in a non-conference battle between two Los Angeles-area schools.
It was a hard fought game in front of energetic crowd featuring two coaches staff who were very familiar with each other. Both head coaches served under Jim Harrick’s staff on 1995 UCLA national championship; now, Harrick is an assistant coach on Mark Gottfried’s staff.
Pepperdine brothers Kessler and Kameron Edwards dominated the game by scoring 22 apiece. Junior guard Terrell Gomez scored 33 points and shot 7-11 from three for the Matadors, while Darius Brown added 12 points of his own.
Here are the main takeaways from the game:
The Matadors need Lamine Diane
For the third straight game, the Matadors played without reigning Big West Player of the Year Lamine Diane. Diane has been ruled ineligible to play for the first semester because of academics. The school is appealing the NCAA’s decision and Diane can be ready to play once they hear back from the appeal, per the university.
After the game, Gottfried shared difficulties about not having Diane against tough non-conference opponents.
“When we made the schedule, we were anticipating having Lamine,” Gottfried said. “In life sometimes unexpected things happen and we have a deal with the cards we are dealt. We just have to focus on getting better as a team. Without him it’s definitely harder, but I’m proud of our guys because we are playing really hard. But we are giving up too many points and have to find a way to better on that side of the ball. We are gonna keep competing.”
Last year Diane finished in the top ten in points (24.8 per game) rebounds (11.2) and blocked shots (2.2). These first games without Diane have shown why Diane is the most valuable player in the conference. It’s hard to see how CSUN is going to win games without him.
Without Diane, the Matadors don’t have anyone to defend the interior. Guard Terrell Gomez is the only consistent form of offense. Right now they are relying on beating teams in transition. This type of style is unsustainable. The Matadors will need their young forwards Micheal Ou, Festus Ndumanya and Jared Pearre to grow up fast.
Pepperdine’s trio of Colbey Ross and the Edwards brothers is legit
The trio combined for 58 points last night, and both Kessler Edwards and Ross each had double-doubles. Ross dished out 12 assists on the night and created an ample amount of scoring opportunities for his big men.
Ross is a dangerous scoring threat, but what separates him is his passing ability. The Waves were 6-8 from the field when they when one of the Edwards brothers set a ball screen for Ross.
There are just so many ways they can beat teams: Ross can drive to the basket, Kam or Kessler can pop and hit the open three, or they can roll to the basket themselves. CSUN tried to show in the first half, but Kessler Edwards killed them with three first half threes. When this trio is hot, the Waves are almost impossible to stop.
Bet the over on CSUN and Pepperdine
Vegas slated this game at high total of 156. But oddsmakers in Vegas probably didn’t think there would only be a handful of possessions to make it to 20 seconds.
Both of these teams play at an insane pace and want to get the ball into transition. The Waves were running in transition up 20 points with walk-ons in the game. Pepperdine has variety of weapons and can score the ball at will. CSUN has two electric guards in Terrell Gomez and Darius Brown. The Matadors were able to put up 82 points without Diane. When the game was well out of reach with a few minutes left to play this Matadors team was still playing extremely hard.
Pushing the ball on offense, Gomez hit several three pointers in the final minutes. They were even fouling in the final seconds down 15 points. Both teams have style of play where points are going to be scored in bunches throughout the season.
CSUN has an underrated home environment
Despite being a Tuesday night against a mid-major opponent, the Matadome had a sellout crowd with an involved student section. The seats were full, the court side VIP seats were filled and the CSUN basketball arena had recognizable sponsors.
There is a certain vibe about the Matadome that is almost like a Drew League game. CSUN has an in-house MC on the mic leading the crowd, a VIP area for guests, and they have little-league shack concession stand. The only thing that’s missing is a consistently good basketball team.
But Mark Gottfried has 100% support from the program and has a young, talented team ready to deliver. If Mark Gottfried can this CSUN program rolling the Matadors will be very interesting to watch. With a little momentum, the Cal State Northridge can be a sleeping giant that has potential to dominate the Big West.