NORTHRIDGE, Calif. — Their press wasn’t all that effective. Their passing wasn’t very good. And all that new size on the roster? Yeah, that didn’t keep the Lobos from getting dominated on the offensive boards as they often did a season ago.
But they still have Anthony Mathis.
The senior came up big when it counted most, banking in a 3-pointer with one second remaining in the game to edge a winded Cal State-Northridge team 87-84 on Tuesday night in front of an announced season-opening crowd of 1,896 in the cozy Matadome.
“It’s Dallas,” Mathis said of the play the Lobos were supposed to run out of a timeout with 6.1 seconds remaining in the game after CSUN’s Lamine Diane had tied the game at 84 with a jumper in the lane following the Lobos’ 20th turnover of the night.
“I’m supposed to come off and give a hand-off, but I caught it a little slow so I thought I had like four or five seconds left and I didn’t think I would have time to give a handoff, so I got a clean shot. Luckily it went in. I thought it was going to be off, to be honest.”
Mathis’ 3-pointer, taken from well beyond the arc, capped a frantic second half in a game that looked sloppy throughout for the Lobos (1-0). Mathis finished with 12 points on 4-of-8 shooting (4-of-7 from 3) and added three assists in 25 minutes.
Despite boasting a roster full of new, longer and taller forwards that were supposed to help the Lobos erase last season’s nightly rebounding disadvantage, CSUN out-rebounded UNM on Tuesday 41-36 and, even more painfully, 16-6 on offensive rebounds.
“We talked about it going in for five days,” Lobos coach Paul Weir said of the rebounding. “They had 19 offensive rebounds in their last game. We worked on it. They’re quick. They’re athletic. They really go to the glass. Our size was almost a problem because their speed and our size, our guys just really struggled boxing them out.”
Weir also bemoaned his team’s inability to take care of the ball on offense. UNM committed 20 turnovers, and several other offensive possessions ended up being rushed or simply didn’t work because of a lack of confidence sharing the basketball.
“Ball control was clearly an issue for us,” Weir said. “I think particularly Corey (Manigault), Vance (Jackson) and Karim (Ezzeddine) really struggled with their speed and kind of lack of size bothered them. Between the three of them, we had 13 turnovers.”
Manigault had 16 points, including 8-of-9 from the free throw line, but also had four turnovers, getting the start in his Lobos debut. Jackson had seven points, eight rebounds and five turnovers. Ezzeddine had four points, three blocked shots and four turnovers.
“Losing some guards has put the pressure on us to share the ball and do the right thing,” Weir said. “Quite frankly, some guys just aren’t as offensively developed as we’d like to handle that responsibility right now.”
One player he doesn’t have to worry about despite a recent shoulder injury was senior Dane Kuiper, who finished with 15 points and hit three 3-pointers, including two early in the second half.
For CSUN, Diane finished with 34 points on 15-of-28 shooting and Terrell Gomez, a 5-8 point guard who hit four first half 3-pointers, ended with 21 points and was 0-for-5 from beyond the arc in the second half. CSUN was 0-for-8 as a team in the second half from long range.
The Lobos, who were 15-point favorites at game time, didn’t get their first win away from Albuquerque until Jan. 17 last season.