Men's Basketball, Men's Sports, Sports

Matador stars prove too much as CSUN handles Long Beach State in Big West opener

Northridge — CSUN’s firepower proved too much for the Long Beach State men’s basketball team in a 95-77 rout Wednesday at the Matadome.

Led by reigning Big West Player of the Year Lamine Diane, the Matadors snapped the Beach’s (5-12, 0-1 Big West) two-game Big West-opener winning streak. The redshirt sophomore forward chalked up 33 points, 15 rebounds, four assists and two steals.

Fellow Matador and Big West Preseason All-conference recipient junior guard Terrell Gomez showed why he’s been the conference’s leading scorer this season with 21 points and four 3-pointers. Sophomore guard Elijah Harkless nearly double-doubled with 12 points, nine rebounds and five assists.

CSUN (6-11, 1-0 Big West) took the hardwood as the conference’s leading offense in points per game (74.8) and stifled Long Beach with its marquee players in isolation from the get-go.

“I think they’re a really good offensive team,” Long Beach State head coach Dan Monson said. “They’ve led the league in scoring. We just had no answers for them defensively and they just got in such a good offensive rhythm. … It’s easy to see when guys go off on their own offensively, but we just got too much on our own on the defensive end of the court and they really took advantage of it.”

Scoring with ease often regardless of a foul call, Diane took 16 free throws in this one, just two shy of Long Beach as a team (18 FTA).

“[Lamine Diane] puts a lot of foul pressure on you obviously,” Monson said. “He’s been doing that for two years. He’s got a great knack for getting to the line and he’s a good player. He was the Player of the Year in the league last year as a freshman, for the first time I think that’s ever happened, and that says a lot right there.”

With a tight whistle sending most of the Long Beach big men to the bench with foul trouble early, CSUN won the rebound differential 42-31 and scored 54 points in the paint.

Sophomore guard Michael Carter III led the Beach with 19 points, three rebounds, three assists and two steals. Sophomore guard Chance Hunter pulled down a team-high six rebounds, along with 18 points and three 3-pointers.

Joining the four Long Beach players to score in double-figures, freshman forward Romelle Mansel had a career-high 11 points to go with five rebounds.

“We just got to keep playing better,” Monson said. “We gotta play better than we did today, but I’m more worried about us just improving than our record or any of that. At Northridge and at Santa Barbara, I think, is probably the hardest start anybody has in the league. There’s a long way to go.”

Long Beach will face UC Santa Barbara at the Thunderdome Saturday, Jan. 11, at 7 p.m.

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