March 5, 2011
By Bob Vazquez, Assistant Athletic Director (Media Relations)
Stockton, Calif. - There is always a first time.
In ten previous games between Cal State Northridge and Pacific in Stockton that dates back to the 1971-72 season, the Matadors had never achieved a victory on UOP's home court.
All streaks must come to an end and the Matadors put an abrupt halt to that dubious stat with a hard-earned 58-54 victory at UOP's Spanos Center on Saturday night in the finale of the Big West Conference regular season.
"Our team had the strength and courage to put it together and I'm very thankful for that," said CSUN head coach Bobby Braswell just outside a jubilant Matador locker room. "I reminded the team before the game that we have played in some pretty big venues during the year and that tonight's game was not going to be new to us. I think that really helped us focus. I knew it was going to be an emotional night with UOP celebrating its Senior Night."
The victory also earned Cal State Northridge a third place finish (9-7) in the Big West Conference, far above the eighth place finish that was predicted in a pre-season Big West pre-season media poll. The third place finish also earned the Matadors a third seed in the upcoming ampm Big West Tournament that starts next Thursday (March 10) at the Honda Center.
Cal State Northridge (13-17) will face sixth seeded Cal State Fullerton (11-19). The game will start 30 minutes after the conclusion of the second-seed Cal Poly vs seventh-seed UC Riverside game at 6 p.m. At Noon, top-seeded Long Beach State will face eighth-seed UC Irvine. Thirty minutes after the conclusion of the LBS-UCI game, fourth-seed Pacific will face fifth-seed UC Santa Barbara.
Two semi-final games are slated for Friday, March 11. The ampm Big West Tournament championship game will be played on Saturday (March 12) at 5 p.m. The championship game will be televised on ESPN2.
Cal State Northridge would not be beaten on Saturday night at Pacific. Only for 38 seconds in the second half did Pacific hold a lead and that was only one point. Cal State Northridge held a lead for the remaining 19:22 of the second half and every time Pacific attempted to rally, the Matadors made a key defensive stop, scored a key basket or cashed in on a key free throw.
With 2:42 left on the arena clock, the Matadors held a 55-46 lead. The Tigers then outscored the Matadors, 8-1, to make things a bit interesting at 56-54 with 37 ticks on the clock.
Lenny Daniel slashed his way around UOP's defense to gather in 19 points and ten rebounds, his 16th double-double of the season and 24th in his two-year Matador career. Raymond Cody added a season-high 13 points while Rashaun McLemore added 12 points and five rebounds off the bench.
CSUN's defense held UOP to only .375 shooting (15-for-40) and .211 (4-for-19) from behind the arc.
"Our guys focused on the defensive game plan," explained Braswell. "We were struggling to score in the second half, but our defense kept us in the game."
CSUN also outrebounded Pacific, 34-31.
Matador Memo ...
Lenny Daniel now has 281 rebounds this year, ninth-best in school history ... Another block tonight against Pacific gives Daniel 78 in his two-year CSUN career, only four short of catching Thomas Shewmake (82, 2003-07) ... Seven more free throw attempts tonight extends Daniels' single season school record to 244 ... Thomas Jacobs continues to make an impact as a freshman reserve ... Another six rebounds tonight against Pacific gives Jacobs 28 boards in the last four games.