Mariners outmatched by Matadors

VIU lost to the California State University Northridge Matadors 85-45 on Wednesday at the Vancouver Island University gymnasium.

VIU Mariners player Clayton Billett

VIU Mariners player Clayton Billett

To view a slideshow of photos from Wednesday’s game, please click here.

The VIU Mariners faced just about the best team they’ll probably ever face. Now they can take the lessons from the game and try to get better.

The M’s men’s basketball team lost to the California State University Northridge Matadors 85-45 on Wednesday at the Vancouver Island University gymnasium.

CSUN was the second NCAA Div. 1 team to visit the gym this month. VIU was able to mostly keep up with Louisiana’s Northwestern State University Demons last week, even as NSU leaned more on its starters, but this week the Matadors played all their guys and still won handily.

“We played very unselfish, we took care of the ball, we didn’t turn the ball over much and we just used our athleticism…” said Josh Greene, CSUN guard.

He said his team’s pressure wore down the opposition.

Stephen Maxwell, CSUN forward, said the Matadors tried to play to their strengths.

“We’re more of an athletic team than they are so we knew that they were just going to try to be physical and just try to outplay us but we matched their intensity,” he said.

The score quickly got out of reach, with the visitors up 46-17 at halftime, so the Mariners reassessed their goals and tried to do things like winning the next four minutes, said VIU coach Matt Kuzminski. He liked his team’s second-half play, as it was outscored by only 11 points after being outscored by 29 in the first half.

“We made some improvements in the second half, the intensity picked up,” he said.

He liked how aggressively the visitors defended because it challenged the Mariners.

“It was hard for us to bring the ball over half court, it was hard for us to get the ball into any kind of offence,” said Kuzminski. “So that stuff’s really good to see who can be tough with the ball, who can cut hard. It was really a test of our toughness.”

Tyler Olsen, VIU forward, said his team seemed to raise its play after recognizing that it started the game tentatively.

“As the game went on we decided to get in it and not let them push us around and we started to push back a little bit,” he said.

CSUN players said even winning by a large margin, they were able to use the game advantageously.

“We’re a hard-working team and we just try to get better every day, no matter how big the lead is,” Maxwell said.

Greene said the key is not to be satisfied, and try to identify areas in which to improve.

The trip to Canada will help bring the Matadors together, he said.

“It gives us more time to bond with each other and get ahead of other teams back in the U.S. and pull us together chemistry-wise and just get a head start,” he said.

The Nanaimo game was the first of the exhibition tour for the Los Angeles team. Greene said he was enjoying the scenery, cleanliness and fresh air.

“We’ve really enjoyed ourselves and we really look forward to more adventure,” Maxwell said.

The home team, too, will gain a lot from the experience of playing such high-calibre basketball.

“It is fun, but it’s a little bit nerve-wracking. These guys, they’re obviously better than us,” Olsen said. “But you come out, you compete, you know it really doesn’t mean anything. You’ve just got to give it your all and have fun.”

COURT SHORTS … CSUN’s Brandon Perry was the game’s high scorer with 16 points and Greene had 15. Olsen led VIU with 14 … To see a video of the Bulletin’s interviews with Maxwell and Greene, please click here.