Feb. 10, 2011
By Bob Vazquez, Assistant Athletic Director (Media Relations)
Northridge, Calif. - Cal State Northridge head basketball coach Bobby Braswell emerged from the jubilant locker room after CSUN's highly dramatic-ending 70-68 victory at Cal State Northridge and was a bit speechless.
Braswell is a man of many words. His timely quotes often fill a reporters' notebook. A large group of reporters and well-wishers waited a few seconds while Braswell collected his thoughts. Braswell then issued an immense sigh of relief, displayed a country-wide smile and then began to recount in detail the heroic events that led to a Matador victory that kept CSUN in second place in the Big West Conference (7-4). The victory also entrenches Saturday's anticipated confrontation with first place Long Beach State.
Get there early on Saturday night (7:05 p.m.) to grab a good seat. The Matadome will be jumpin' before what will probably be one of the biggest, loudest crowds in recent years.
But back to CSUN's victory at Cal State Fullerton on Thursday night for a fourth straight season at Titan Gym. At one point in the second half, Cal State Northridge was down by double-digits, the result of a sluggish beginning that seemed to linger throughout most of the game.
"We've been on the wrong end of a lot of close games like this in recent years, but it's nice to be on the other side," said Braswell. "This was another road win for us. I'm just very proud of our guys."
As Braswell always has preached, don't ever give up. Keep fighting. Play defense. Make stops. Good things will happen if you just keep playing, tough defensive basketball. Even if your offense sputters, great defense will always keep a team in the game.
Cal State Northridge led 2-0 on a Lenny Daniel jumper at 18:20 in the first half. Their only other lead of the 40-minute Big West Conference contest was when freshman Josh Greene hit a long baseline three-pointer that Greene had to arch high over a Titan defender's hand to give Cal State Northridge a 69-68 lead with 24 seconds on the clock.
"I'm not sure how Josh' 3-pointer went in," said Braswell. "He put up that shot about five feet higher than he normally shoots it. But he stepped up and put it in the basket."
Greene isn't shy about shooting and his heroic shot was just one of six 3-pointers he hit to give him a season-high 19 points.
Down 14 points, 50-36, with 13:20 left in the game, Cal State Northridge hit six straight three-pointers to gradually move the Matadors into a 61-61 tie with 2:48 remaining in the game and eventually put the Matadors in front, 69-68 with 24 seconds on the clock. The Matadors employed a smaller lineup to take advantage of the three-shot ability of players like Josh Greene, Vinnie McGhee and Aqeel Quinn. Four of those six straight three-pointers were made by Greene.
"We just were sluggish in the first half," said Braswell "We never got our energy level flowing. I just told the team to keep plugging away. I told the team to keep getting stops, play defense and our shots will start coming our way."
There were plenty of heroes for Cal State Northridge. Michael Lizarraga scored ten points and grabbed six rebounds. Lenny Daniel collected his 13th double-double of the year with eleven points and eleven rebounds. Rashaun McLemore added ten points.
Cal State Fullerton still had a chance to either tie or win the game with ten seconds on the clock after Lizarraga hit a free throw to give the Matadors a 70-68 advantage. But the Titans missed a layup and a tip-in as the final clock struck zero. Cal State Northridge players celebrated on the court as CSUN emerged with its tenth victory of the year.
"Lord knows I thought they were going to hit that last tip-in at the end," admitted Braswell. "I don't know exactly how he missed that shot."
Cal State Northridge hosts Long Beach State on Saturday (2/12/11, 7:05 p.m.) at The Matadome. The 49ers solidified their hold on first place (9-2) in the Big West Conference with a decisive 93-69 victory at UC Davis.
The 49ers, earlier this year, beat Cal State Northridge (85-71) on LBS' home court, the Pyramid. Rashaun McLemore scored 20 points while Lenny Daniel added 18 points and eleven rebounds for the Matadors. Four Long Beach starters collected double-digit points with Casper Ware leading the attack with 23 points, six assists and two steals. The 49ers crushed CSUN on the boards, 39-to-28.
Matador Memo ...
Cal State Northridge has won three of its last four games (UC Irvine, UC Santa Barbara, Cal State Fullerton) on the road this year ... Over the last three seasons, Cal State Northridge has played in 13 games decided by three points or less ... The Matadors are 4-9 during that span ... The ten 3-pointers ties a season-high originally set at Air Force (12/2/10) ... The six three-pointers by Josh Greene is the seventh-best mark for a single game in school history.