Feb. 23, 2008
Northridge, Ca - Even with a healthy team, the task of defending a potential high first round NBA draft pick was not going to be an easy task for the Cal State Northridge basketball team against Rider University on Saturday night.
With a high ankle sprain (suffered in the last game at Long Beach State) that forced veteran forward Calvin Chitwood to miss the Rider game, and foul troubles to the Matadors other two big men (Tremaine Townsend & Jayme Miller), the Matadors went primarily to 6-foot-4 reserve sophomore walkon Tony Osunsanmi to defend Jason Thompson, a 6-foot-11, 250-pound senior center who attracted the attention of 18 NBA scouts along with a crowd of nearly 1,400 fans to The Matadome.
Osunsanmi put together a heroic effort against one of the nation's top collegiate centers, but it wasn't enough as Rider University eeked out a 73-72 decision over Cal State Northridge.
Two foul shots by Ryan Thompson in the final six seconds were the winning points. A last second shot by CSUN's Deon Tresvant missed the mark and the visitors from Lawrenceville, NJ, went home with the victory to raise their season record to 19-9. Cal State Northridge fell to 18-7.
Miller fouled out with 12:57 left in the game, Townsend picked up his fourth personal foul three minutes earlier and eventually fouled out, and Chitwood's injury wiped out CSUN's physical strength to use against Thompson. Osunsanmi played like a champion, guarding an opponent seven inches taller, and 60 pounds heavier. Osunsanmi played 13 minutes and collected a career-high six rebounds.
Despite the limitations, the Matadors battled back from a 12-point deficit (37-49, 17:55 to play) to cut the margin to one point (71-72) with 28 seconds to play.
Rider led nearly 37 minutes of the 40-minute contest, and enjoyed an eight-point lead at halftime, 43-35.
"I am very proud of our team in the second half," said Matadors head coach Bobby Braswell. "Obviously we didn't play very well defensively in the first half, and foul trouble to Tremaine (Townsend) and Jayme (Miller) really hurt us. But what a scrappy, scrappy, scrappy, hard-fought effort by the team in the second half. We held them to 30 points in the second half after allowing 43 points in the first 20 minutes."
Josh Jenkins and Tresvant helped key a dynamic comeback in the second half. Jenkins scored 17 of his game-high 21 points in the second half, while Tresvant added 18 points for the game. Townsend added another double-digit effort in the rebounding department with ten boards despite fouling out.
Thompson, a candidate the John Wooden Award, symbolic of the nation's best player, was held to eleven points (4-for-10 from the floor), but grabbed 13 rebounds and two blocks in 30 minutes. Harris Mansell was the big hurt for Cal State Northridge. Mansell scored a team-high 21 points for Rider, including 5-for-9 from behind the arc along with 6-for-6 from the free throw line.
"Thompson demands a lot of attention because he is so big," said Braswell. "He's a good player but he wasn't the issue. I thought Mansell was the bigger issue for us. He hit some big three-pointers."
Braswell told the team after the game to begin focusing on the task ahead ... four more Big West games starting next Thursday (2/28/08) at Cal State Fullerton.
"As a coach, you want to win every game you play," said Braswell. "But I told the team to leave all your tears and your disappointments here in the locker room. I told them to leave here with their heads held high."
Matador Minute ...
Senior all-conference candidate Jonathan Heard collected four field goals against Rider to give him 477 for his career, and move him past Jerry Joseph (1967-70, 474) into sixth all-time at Cal State Northridge ... Heard collected four rebounds to give him 513 for his career ... That is good enough to move him into tenth place all-time at CSUN, ahead of Jack Dyck (1972-75, 510) ... Tremaine Townsend had a block to give him 28 for the year, good for third all-time for a single season at CSUN, and only four short of the school record held by Thomas Shewmake (2005-06, 32) ... Deon Tresvant's nine three-point attempts against Rider gives him 167 for the year, good for fourth place for a single season at CSUN.