Northridge, Calif- This isn’t Mark Gottfried’s first ride around the roller coaster that comes with an entire season of basketball. After coaching for over 20 years he has experienced the highest of highs and lowest of lows. Even when his team struggles, the straight look upon his face never wavers.
Gottfried watched his young group of Matadors go through its growing pains with sporadic defense Saturday night that led to CSUN’s 88-68 defeat against Sacramento State.
“I think our defense has been poor every night,” Gottfried said. “Tonight was the first night that we didn’t play very well even offensively. At least some nights we’ve been good offensively but we got a lot of young guys who need to grow up fast and they need to learn fast.”
Sacramento State (4-1) thrived from inside and outrebounded CSUN 42-29. Marcus Graves scored 19 points with six rebounds and Ethan Esposito off the bench scored 16 points with 12 rebounds.
Matadors big men Mahamadou Kaba-Camara and Michael Ou did little to stop Esposito and Sacramento State was able to get 50 points in the paint.
“If we play hard and do the basic things like box out then size and length don’t matter,” freshman Darius Brown said. “That’s what we do, it’s not that hard.”
CSUN (1-5) was led by Lamine Diane with 19 points and Terrell Gomez had 18 points. Brown II had 11 points and freshman Elijah Harkless had 10 points.
“We got to make sure we’re talking more,” Brown said. “It’s just about communication really and no second chance points.
CSUN started strong and led 15-6 with 14:51 in the first half. Diane for the Matadors first seven points but the defensive intensity wavered. Sacramento State ended the half on an 11-2 run.
“We came out with a lot of energy at first but then we slacked off and put ourselves into a hole,” Brown said. “We put our heads down when we shouldn’t have and that’s what led to them extending the lead. It put us into a hole we couldn’t get ourselves out of.”
CSUN will face Pepperdine Monday night in Malibu. The game was postponed due to the Woollsey Fire that affected Thousand Oaks that, Bell Canyon, West Hills, Oak Park, Agoura Hills and Calabasas.
It will be a chance for CSUN to prove it can bounce back from another poor night on defense.
“For some of us this is just our fifth game playing college basketball so there is a learning curve,” Brown said. “But we need to start picking things up a little bit quicker. We are going through some growing pains right now but I think we’ll start hitting our stride soon enough.”
Written by Ethan Hanson