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Hawaii comes up short on road at Northridge

Jan. 7—Cal State Northridge made the key shots—and stops—down the stretch in Saturday's 76-66 basketball victory over Hawaii at Premier America Credit Union Arena in Northridge, Calif.

Cal State Northridge made the key shots—and stops—down the stretch in Saturday's 76-66 basketball victory over Hawaii at Premier America Credit Union Arena in Northridge, Calif.

After Justin McKoy hit two free throws to close UH to 62-61 with 4 :32 to play, the Matadors scored 14 of the final 19 points to extend their winning streak to a school-record-tying seven. The Matadors are 12-3 overall and 3-0 in the Big West.

"I'm just so proud of them, " CSUN coach Andy Newman said in a postgame television interview.

Newman, who was hired last April, inherited a team in which every Matador had either completed his eligibility or was in the NCAA transfer portal.

But De'Sean Allen-Eikens, a 6-foot-6 forward who was one of four Matadors to withdraw from the portal, hit all 10 of his free throws and finished with 20 points. The Matadors were 25-for-30 from the line compared with the Rainbow Warriors' 13-for-18 free-throw shooting.

In the final four minutes, the'Bows turned the ball over three times and missed five of six shots.

"We just knew we had to do it on the defensive end, " Newman said. "We couldn't miss any assignments. Our talk (among teammates ) had to be perfect, and it was. Our defense was really good. That's what's going to carry us."

In a telephone interview with the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, UH coach Eran Ganot said the Matadors' "strengths are the transition game and getting to the line and forcing turnovers and offensive boards. I thought that was the big difference in the second half—the rebounding—whereas we did well in the first half."

The Matadors scored 27 of their points on the run.

They outscored the'Bows 40-16 in the paint. UH center Bernardo da Silva missed four of his five shots. Backup center Mor Seck did not have a shot attempt.

"We have to do a better job of presenting inside and catching in good spots so we can play inside-out, " Ganot said. "We didn't have much of an inside presence."

A key sequence came after UH point guard JoVon McClanahan, who scored a game-high 23 points, hit two free throws to cut the deficit to 66-63 with 2 :57 to play. CSUN's Keonte Jones drove the lane, then pitched out to Gianni Hunt on the left wing. Hunt's 3 was true, extending the margin to what proved to be a decisive 69-63 lead.

Ganot lamented what he termed the'Bows' late "lapses."

"The turnovers at the worst time and (Hunt's ) kickout 3 that we don't give up much, " Ganot said.

Hunt assumed a larger role after guard Jordan Brinson underwent surgery this week for a season-ending injury.

"He was terrific, " Newman said of Hunt. "He's so dynamic. He can score in all different ways. He loves the big shot. That 3-pointer really clinched it for us."

The Warriors were 11-for-38 on shots launched behind the arc. They attempted 21 3-point shots in the first half.

McClanahan made three consecutive 3s to stake the Warriors to a 9-2 lead. McClanahan scored 13 of the Warriors' first 14 points. Matt Cotton's layup on a fast break with 10 :56 left in the first half was the first basket by a Warrior other than McClanahan.

McClanahan scored 17 first-half points but shot 2-for-7 after the intermission.

The Warriors, who fell to 9-6 and 1-2 in the Big West, split this two-game road trip. They play host to UC Irvine on Thursday night in SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center.