Feb. 18, 2010
By Lee Barnathan
The two top scorers combined for 39 points as the Matadors held on to beat Cal Poly 73-68 Wednesday night in a Big West Conference game before a large crowd and Fox Sports West viewing audience at The Matadome.
Daniel scored 20 points and Daniels scored 19, but it was the way they scored 53 percent of their team's points: in streaks. They scored CSUN's (10-16, 5-7 Big West) first ten points to take a 10-4 just 3:22 into the game. They opened the second half with eight consecutive points to turn a 35-29 halftime lead into a 14-point cushion with 17:29 to go.
And after Cal Poly (9-16, 6-7) made up the deficit and took a 65-64 lead with 2:03 to play, the two scored the Matadors' last nine points. Most critical was Daniels making two free throws after being intentionally fouled with 29.9 seconds remaining and the Mustangs ahead 68-67. The Matadors never trailed after that.
"I didn't know (Lorenzo Keeler) grabbed my shirt," said Daniels to reporters. "I didn't know it was an intentional foul."
Actually, the scoring was streaky throughout. CSUN enjoyed runs of 18-4, 21-10 and 7-0. Cal Poly had two 10-2 advantages and one of 17-9.
But in the end, the Mustangs couldn't answer the Lenny-Kenny combo. And for Daniel, it was personal, for after Cal Poly took a 73-72 win on Jan. 23, he heard Mustang players talking.
He said he wanted to "blow them out of the gym" but had to settle for eking out a narrow win.
"We had those different spurts," Daniel said. "There were stretches when we play well and stretches when we struggled, but we always find a way."
Actually, this was the ninth time this season CSUN has played a game that was decided by five or fewer points, and the Matadors are 3-6 in those.
"I'll take (a win) any way I can," head coach Bobby Braswell said after a deep exhale. "We've had so many close ones. It was good to be on the other end."
One reason for the victory was the Matadors went to Daniel and Daniels early, as Braswell wants. Instead of taking numerous outside shots, he wants the team to look for the two down low and "pound the ball inside early as much as we can."
Willie Galick also scored in a streaky way, scoring ten of his 13 points in one 5:39 spurt in the second half. Cal Poly's Lorenzo Keeler put in seven of his team's first nine points and six of the last eight in the first half to finish with 23. He even had a chance to tie the score at 71 with 2.8 seconds to play, but his 3-pointer bounced off the left side of the rim, and Daniels grabbed the rebound, was fouled and made two free throws to complete the scoring and end CSUN's three-game losing streak.
NOTES: The series between Cal Poly and CSUN is the oldest in Matador history. Cal Poly now leads the series 44-41, but CSUN has won six of the last seven games ... Kenny Daniels had led the team in scoring for the last three games until Lenny Daniel outscored Daniels by a point Wednesday. ... The Matadors committed a season-low 13 fouls, including just four in the first half ... Their previous low had been 16 at Pacific. ...Head coach Bobby Braswell almost used a starting lineup that hadn't been seen since Dec. 6 at Washington but instead used different lineup No. 13 this season. When Lenny Daniel, Kenny Daniels, Raymond Cody, Mark Hill started with Michael Lizarraga, the Matadors beat Idaho and lost to Washington ... On Wednesday, Tony Osunsanmi replaced Lizarraga, and the five starters played the first 5:56 and took a 17-9 lead before five new players substituted for them ... CSUN was without Rashaun McLemore, whose injured back has flared up ... Braswell said he isn't sure if McLemore will play again this year ... Additionally, Vincent Cordell didn't suit up after suffering a knee contusion in practice on Tuesday, and Willie Galick played with a sprained ankle ... Former Matador great Jonathan Heard took in the game ... Heard said he has been playing professionally in Chile, where the play is physical. Chile's season runs from April to December.