By Noah Goldberg
Richmond covered the 15-point spread tonight, defeating Cal State Northridge 90-62. CSUN falls to 0-4, while the Spiders improved to 3-0 for the first time since 2012.
Richmond came blazing out of the locker room in this one. Following a Nick Sherod jump hook, Jacob Gilyard picked off a pass on the Matadors’ first possession, driving for an easy two. A couple of possessions later, junior Blake Francis stole the pass from Brendan Harrick, a steal you could’ve seen coming all the way from Cary Town. The Spiders’ 16-0 run to start would carry them all the way through the half.
CSUN looked absolutely inept on offense. Terell Gomez, the Matadors’ leading scorer this year (22.3 ppg) failed to hit open looks, despite shooting 52.8 3FG% through four games. He knocked down just three of his ten field goals and didn’t find much help from the supporting cast as CSUN shot an abysmal 29.6 FG% and went 1-9 from deep in the half.
As bad as they were on offense, the Matadors looked just as perplexed on defense. Not only did the off-ball screens and cuts confuse them, but they seemed lost on basic ball screens, continuously switching under and leaving screeners like Sherod wide open from three. He took advantage, going 4-5 3FG for a team high 16 points. Richmond refused to miss open looks, going 22-33 FG and 7-10 from range.
The Spiders’ starting lineup combined for five steals and as a team they forced 12 CSUN turnovers, which turned into 22 points. At the half, Richmond was up 55-18.
They continued to coast over the Matadors in the second half. Despite struggling to score for a couple minutes, Sherod and company continued to knock down open looks as the CSUN zone failed to close out quickly.
Midway through the half there was a brief lull as Michael Ou and Festus Ndumanya grabbed multiple offensive rebounds on consecutive possessions, but in a blowout, it was easy to see the Spiders’ physicality and effort was waning.
With five minutes left, Chris Mooney ran a lineup of Matt Grace, Andre Gustavson, Tyler Burton, Jake Wojcik and Sal Koureissi. Despite the blowout, the young lineup didn’t relent. Around five minutes remaining, Koureissi grabbed a strong offensive rebound but was stripped by Gomez. Looking for the fast break, Gomez had the ball poked by Grace, who dove across the floor for the loose ball. Grace found a wide open Wojcik who missed the three, but Burton rose up for the strong offensive rebound and drew a foul.
It was a light night for the starters; Nathan Cayo and Grant Golden stayed under 20 minutes while Gilyard’s 26 were the most for any Spider. Sherod led all scorers with 25 points on 7-9 three-point shooting, and Gilyard added 18 points and 7 assists. Tyler Burton secured four rebounds in 16 minutes while Wojcik had five in 21. The bench as a whole scored 16 on the night, which is improved from a lackluster outing against a stronger Vanderbilt team.
There aren’t too many takeaways from this drubbing, which looked closer after Mooney sent in the reserves to close out the game. CSUN had played at Auburn a few days ago and traveled across the coast for this game. “It’s great to capitalize on those advantages right away. I think at the first media timeout it was already 18-2,” head coach Chris Mooney said after the game. The Spiders hit their open looks, won the rebounding battle and made CSUN take tough shots. They’ll set their eyes on a home matchup with McNeese State Friday at 7 pm and try to head into the Barclays Center for the Roman Legends Classic at 4-0.