“Trey has a great understanding for the game, where his teammates are going to be and how he can be effective within our offense,” said SUU head coach Nick Robinson. “He is very confident in transition as well as getting to the basket and into the paint and making himself as well as others better.”
Maxwell worked inside for a couple of lay ins during the Matadors first two possessions before SUU junior Chris Nsenki answered back with a three from the wing to make to the count 4-3.
Maxwell went on to score the first ten points of the game for Cal State Northridge before junior guard Stephan Hicks added a pair of free throws to put the home team up 12-9. Kennedy then knocked down another three for the Thunderbirds to even things up at 12-12.
The Matadors went back in front on another lay up from Maxwell and extended their lead to 32-18 with five minutes remaining in the period after he scored a basket and earned a trip to the foul line. Maxwell would finish the period with 21 points on 9-13 shooting to lead CSUN to a 45-28 advantage at the break.
“The first half I thought we played well, executed our game plan, but Stephen Maxwell had a heck of a first half with 21 and 10 and you have to give him a lot of credit with his energy and effort,” commented Robinson.
Cal State Northridge doubled up the Thunderbirds offense by a count of 12-6 in the first six minutes of the second period before tearing off an 8-0 run to push the margin to 63-35 on a slam by freshman Aaron Parks.
Southern Utah answered with a 3-point basket from A.J. Hess followed by a dunk by senior forward Jayson Cheesman for five-straight points, but the Matadors’ lead continued to grow down the stretch before settling at a final margin of 84-57.
In addition to Maxwell’s game-high 27 points, Cal State Northridge got another 20 Hicks. Two more Matadors scored in double figures as the team shot a combined 30-60 from the field. CSUN held a 48-26 rebounding advantage and outscored Southern Utah in the paint by a count of 44-26. SUU Sophomore Casey Oliverson finished with 10 points for his first double-digit scoring performance as a T-Bird and led the team with eight rebounds.
“We will definitely get back to basics when it comes to defense and rebounding. That has been half our problem, the other half has been offensive confidence. Those are things we have time to improve on,” explained Robinson. “We just have to continue to get better. It is a process, we accepted the challenge to go through this process and we have to rise to the challenge.”
Southern Utah will take some time off before returning to the Centrum Arena next week for a home matchup against UNLV. The Thunderbirds host the Rebels on Saturday, Dec. 14 at 5:00 p.m. Coverage of SUU basketball is available online at www.suutbirds.com.