Big West Roundup: Week 7
In a week of holiday celebrations, Big West basketball was right in the middle of the action celebrating some big wins and a big honor. Cal State Northridge and UC Irvine each won big against Pac-12 foes while Cal State Fullerton point guard Kwame Vaughn is now up for an award honoring the nation’s top collegiate point guards.
Hicks leads CSUN to Historic Win
Stephan Hicks earned his second Big West Player of the Week award after helping the Matadors (9-3) to a 2-0 week, highlighted by a 76-71 comeback win at Utah.
Down by as much as 21 points at Provo’s Huntsman Center, the Matadors pulled off a shocker to give CSUN its first victory over a Pac-12 team since 2005 and the biggest comeback win in head coach Bobby Braswell’s 17-year Matador career.
It was a win that Braswell won’t soon forget.
"I will remember this game as one of my greatest wins," Braswell said. "To be down 21 points at halftime, and to make such a tremendous comeback on the road against a team that has been playing very well, I couldn't have asked for anything more."
For Hicks’ part, he scored 19 points and pulled down nine boards. Hicks went 8-for-11 from the field and scored eight points in the decisive second half. In two games on the week, Hicks, the Matadors’ leading scorer, shot 57.1 percent from the field, averaging a double-double with 16.5 points and 10 rebounds per game.
The Matadors couldn’t get a defensive stop in the first half, allowing the Utes to shoot 60 percent from the field. Utah took a 48-27 halftime lead into the locker room. But Braswell’s halftime speech was clearly an inspired one, as the Matadors came back and shot the lights out in the second half, outscoring Utah 49-23.
"We were dead in the water at halftime,” Braswell said. “We had no life, no energy. We didn't play with any toughness. I told the guys [that] tough players win. I also told them I thought we could come back and win this game."
Braswell switched up the defenses, employing a full-court, man-to-man for the second half and it paid dividends.
“The guys just kept getting stops,” Braswell said. “We just used our speed and athleticism better in the second half.”
Starting with 9:11 left in the second half, the Matadors went on a 23-5 run to come back to within one, 59-58. Josh Greene drained a triple to give CSUN a lead they would never relinquish. Greene added 13 points and Landon Drew came off the bench for 19 to balance out the offense and aid in CSUN’s 66 percent second-half shooting performance.
"This isn't all about us,” said Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak. “They shot over 60 percent and had guys make shots. Everything went to plan in the first half and their backcourt made the plays and baskets when they needed them."
CSUN ends nonconference play sitting atop the Big West Conference standings and will open conference play Saturday, visiting Hawaii.
Vaughn Named to Cousy Award Watch List
Cal State Fullerton’s Kwame Vaughn has been recognized as one of the nation’s top point guards, as he was recently named one of 85 players to the Bob Cousy Collegiate Point Guard of the Year Award.
Read the rest of this week's Big West Roundup at here.
The Big West Roundup is a weekly feature written by Abbey Mastracco for FoxSportsWest.com