Jan. 13, 2011
By Bob Vazquez, Assistant Athletic Director (Media Relations)
Northridge, Calif. - For the first half of Thursday night's Big West Conference game against UC Riverside, the Cal State Northridge game plan was working full tilt.
The Matadors didn't play exceptional offense, but their defense shined as bright as a summer sunrise. UC Riverside was held to only 22 points and shot only .276 from the floor. The Matadors held their opponents in check at the halftime break, 26-22.
But as the story has progressed the entire season, basketball is a 40-minute journey and the Matadors just couldn't extend the momentum. UC Riverside erupted for 48 second-half points on 67 percent shooting to march away from The Matadome with a 70-61 victory over CSUN.
The Highlander victory erased the memories of a 12-game losing streak to the Matadors that had started during the 2004-05 season.
Ask Matador head coach Bobby Braswell a direct question and he will give you a direct answer. No cliques, no excuses, just the plain, hard facts.
"We don't have the instinct or the toughness to finish," said Braswell. "We're just soft defensively. We need to get tough, mentally and physically. We don't fight through adversity real well. Until we learn to play hard and defend, we are not going to win. We played that way in the first half, but in the second half, we just didn't compete on the defensive end of the floor."
UCR's second half offensive explosion resulted in its biggest lead of the game, 56-44, with 5:44 left on the clock.
Cal State Northridge cut the lead to only three points, 62-59, with 1:10 on the clock, but UC Riverside didn't buckle under the pressure. The Highlanders scored the game's next nine points to take a 68-59 lead with 17 seconds on the clock.
All 70 UC Riverside points were scored by their five starters. Javon Borum scored a game-high 23 points to lead a quartet of Highlander double-digit scorers.
Braswell praised the play of three of his freshman players. Josh Greene led Cal State Northridge with 17 points while Jordan Mitchell collected four rebounds and a block in 12 minutes. Aqeel Quinn played only eight minutes, but Braswell praised Quinn for providing energy and intensity in dishing out two assists and grabbing a rebound in his short stint on the court.
Cal State Northridge, 4-12 overall and 1-3 in the Big West Conference, hosts Cal State Fullerton on Saturday, January 15, at 7:05 p.m. at The Matadome.
UC Riverside raised its season record to 7-8 overall and 2-1 in conference play.
Matador Memo ...
A CBS film crew and a producer from New York covered the game CSUN-UCR game for a feature story on Michael Lizarraga, the only deaf player competing on the NCA Division I level ... The story will air either later this month or during the NCAA Tournament in March ... The 13 points and 14 rebounds by Lenny Daniel gives him eight double-doubles for the season, and 16 in his two-year Matador career ... Daniel has six double-doubles in the last eight games ... The 14 rebounds were one short of his career-best set earlier this year at Air Force (12/2/10) ... The 17 points by Josh Greene tied his career-high set earlier this year against Vanguard (11/20/10).