After opening their season with a win, the Lobos (0-0, 1-0) have a bit of a challenge facing them on Saturday night at Dreamstyle Arena.
Cal State University Northridge (0-0, 0-1) gave the Lobos a scare last season at the Matadome and are going to try and do the same this time. Lamine Diane led the Matadors in that meeting with 34 points and pushed the Lobos into needing a buzzer-beater to come away with a win. This time, Diane is back and bringing with him a Matador team that some have picked to contend for the Big West title this year.
The season didn’t open well for the Matadors, losing their opener to Oregon State University by 20 points. Despite having three players in double-digits, the Matadors were overmatched by the PAC-12 power. Hoping to pick up their first win of the season, they’ll have to do it in one of the hardest places to play.
Last season, the Lobos managed a 9-7 record at home, something they will need to improve upon this year. The Pit, which had been a veritable fortress for the Lobos in the past, has lost some of its mystique. Between poor results and falling attendance, head coach Paul Weir and his team know that the only way to get that ‘it’ factor back is to prove themselves on the court.
Although there were five Lobos to reach double digits in their season opener, JaQuan Lyle may have had the best night of anyone. Missing a double-double by the skin of his teeth, Lyle’s 11 assists were a clinic that any young player should watch and try to emulate. With no look passes setting up his teammates, Eastern New Mexico University didn’t have an answer for Lyle.
Even with the comfortable win, there was something that Lobo faithful should be concerned about. The Lobos were inconsistent in possession and turned the ball over 21 times. Against a school like Eastern New Mexico, it wasn’t hard for them to overcome the issue, but against a better school, it could come back to haunt them.
The Lobos should win again on Saturday night and move to 2-0 to open the season. To do so, though, they will need another strong defensive performance and will need to contain Diane, which they struggled to do last time. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. (Mountain), and the game will be broadcast live on the Mountain West Network as well as on 770 KKOB-AM.