March 15, 2008
By Bob Vazquez, Assistant Athletic Director, Media Relations
Anaheim, Ca - Before the start of Friday night's semifinal game at the Big West Men's Basketball Tournament, Cal State Northridge head coach Bobby Braswell was concerned the Matadors would get off to a slow start because it was the team's first tournament game while its opponent, Cal State Fullerton, had played the night before.
Braswell's concern, unfortunately, proved to be true as the Titans raced out of the gate, and the Matadors struggled to find any momentum as Cal State Fullerton scored a 83-68 decision over Cal State Northridge on Friday night at the Anaheim Convention Center.
The defeat stopped the Matadors season goal of gaining a berth in the NCAA Tournament. Cal State Northridge finished the season 20-10.
"They (Cal State Fullerton) were clearly the better team tonight," said Braswell. "From the very beginning, they established their presence on both ends of the floor. I was concerned we might be a little bit slow at the start since it was our first game (in the tournament). Fullerton had a game under its belt playing the night before. But I didn't anticipate it would go as long as it did. Fullerton hit some big shots early. It seemed like we were on our heels nearly the entire game."
The Titans jumped to a 7-0 in the first 90 seconds of the game, and the Matadors couldn't get their first basket until the 16:43 mark on a jumper by Deon Tresvant.
Cal State Fullerton continued its aggressive offensive attack in upping its first half lead to 20 points, 31-11, with 7:43 left.
Cal State Northridge managed to cut the Titan margin to ten points, 55-45, with 13:54 left in the second half, but the Matadors couldn't get any significant defensive stops. The Titan lead grew to 23 points, 76-53, with 5:17 to play.
"Fullerton did some things we just didn't respond too," said Braswell. "We didn't get the stops when we needed them. They kept hitting big shots."
Tremaine Townsend put forth another outstanding effort. Townsend led the Matadors in points (16) and rebounding (16), the tenth time this season that the junior forward has hit a double-double, a Big West best. Deon Tresvant and Calvin Chitwood each added eleven points.
Despite the loss, there were numerous accomplishments for this year's team that chalked up its fifth 20-win season in school history, and third such season during the tenure of head coach Bobby Braswell. The Matadors captured its first Big West championship (12-4).
"It hurts to end the season, but I'll remember all the hard work the team put forth, the game preparation, and finishing first in the league despite a prediction that we would finish sixth," said Heard. "It was a great season. It was a great experience."
Despite the fact that the Matadors lose four outstanding seniors (Rai Colston, Calvin Chitwood, Jonathan Heard, Jayme Mller) to graduation, Cal State Northridge is expected to field another winning team next year. The list of returnees includes Josh Jenkins, who leads the conference in assists, Tremaine Townsend, who leads the Big West in rebounding, and Deon Tresvant, the team's leading scorer and one of the top 3-point shooters in the conference.
"We're excited about next year," said Braswell. "We're licking our wounds right now (with the season ending loss), but there is a lot to be proud of. Our fans were great ... the way they came out to support the team. I hope they are proud of the team's accomplishments. We were the league champions, and we will build from there."
Matador Minute ... Two school records were set during the 2007-08 season ... Jonathan Heard played in his 120th game against Cal State Fullerton, a new school record ... Tremaine Townsend broke the school record with 37 blocks ... Heard ended his four-year Matador career with his name in the Top 10 in eleven categories ... Heard finished with 1,362 points, third-best in school history ... Heard ended his career with 534 rebounds, ninth-best in school history.
Editors Note ... A complete review of the many accomplishments of the 2007-08 Cal State Northridge men's basketball team will be available on www.gomatadors.cstv.com at the conclusion of the NCAA Tournament.