Northridge, CA – In what ended up being a tale of two halves, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi defeated the California State Northridge Matadors (CSUN) 75-68 on the road to improve their overall record to 4-6. With the loss, CSUN (3-9) continues their disappointing start to the season, and now face an uphill battle with Conference play looming.
The game got off to a dreadful start for the Islanders, as CSUN held them scoreless for nearly the first seven minutes while opening up to a 9-0 early lead. The Islanders answered back with their own run, however, and scored the game’s next eight points before CSUN continued the back-and-forth trend by answering with a mini 8-2 run of their own. Overall, the first half of the game was low in scoring (27-23, CSUN advantage) but provided fans with an exciting battle in the paint between Islanders sophomore forward Rashawn Thomas and CSUN’s senior forward Stephen Maxwell. Thomas (6’8”, 250 lbs) displayed surprising athleticism and speed running the floor with the much faster Maxwell (6’7”, 220 lbs), as the two banged it out under the basket to keep their respective teams close going into the half.
The second half produced a much more high-scoring game as junior guard Jelani Currie introduced himself to the CSUN faithful by connecting on all eight field goal attempts in the half, including going 7-of-7 from behind the arc. In total, Currie’s career night ended with 27 points (all in the 2nd half) on 8-of-9 shooting in 29 minutes off the bench. Currie’s 27 points were the most scored by an Islanders player in over a year, since John Jordan scored 28 against IPFW last November. Currie had not come into the game particularly hot from 3-point land, as he only connected on 3-of-12 shots from behind the arc coming into Saturday’s game. But with last night’s memorable performance, his percentage from three on the season increased to over 50 percent (10-of-19 overall) and really tempts Head Coach Willis Wilson to consider inserting him into the starting lineup.
Currie’s explosive half provided the Islanders with the offensive spark they lacked to begin the game, as his 12 straight points and 14-2 overall Texas A&M-CC run gave them a 62-54 lead with just under 5 minutes remaining in the game. A strong 2nd half effort by CSUN’s Maxwell and senior guard Stephan Hicks helped to keep the game within striking distance, but the constant barrage of 3’s ultimately doomed the Matadors’ hopes. Also impressive was the play of Islanders starting point guard, John Jordan. His solid all-around game (17 points, nine assists, and six rebounds) combined with Currie’s performance provided the perfect 1-2 punch for an Islander team coming into the game desperate to improve upon their 317th ranked average of 59.7 PPG. Utilizing his crafty ball-handling skills and impressive footwork in traffic, Jordan is able to make up for his lack of size (5’10”, 180 lbs) and lead the Islanders in scoring and assists this year.
As for CSUN, their hopes of creeping toward a .500 record with the start of Big West play less than three weeks away was simply not in the cards tonight. The Matadors have now started off the season to a disappointing 3-9 start after going 7-5 last season after 12 games of play. Looking to improve on last year’s runner-up status in the Big West Championship game, CSUN and Head Coach Reggie Theus must find an answer to their lack luster performances at the Matadome and dismal road record of (0-6).
The news gets worse for the Matadors, as they now hit the road for an early Tuesday evening game against the undefeated Louisville Cardinals (10-0), before heading home to face a strong Stephen F. Austin team (9-3). Meanwhile, Texas A&M-CC faces their last road game of 2014 as they travel to Cal St. Fullerton for a Monday night showdown against the Titans.
Quick Tid-Bit: With his 7-of-7 three point shooting performance, Jelani Currie became the first player in Islanders history to go perfect from three while making more than four shots.
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