December 16, 2009

Matadors Host Drexel on Friday Before Returning to Colorado

Dec. 16, 2009

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FOR STARTERS The Cal State Northridge men's basketball team (4-5, 0-0 Big West) returns home to host the Drexel Dragons (5-5, 0-0 Colonial Athletic Association) on Friday before wrapping up the pre-Big West season next Tuesday, Dec. 22 at Colorado. The Matadors, who dropped a pair of road games at No. 10 Washington (88-76) and at Denver (89-82) last week, are playing just their third home game in 10 games this season. Northridge and Drexel met for the first time last season and the Dragons came away with a 55-47 win in Philadelphia, Pa.

NORTHRIDGE ON THE NET All home games and select road games will be broadcast live at GoMatadors.com and IBSU.net. Bill Courtland, who enters his fourth season with the Matadors, serves as the primary voice of Northridge men's basketball. Joining Courtland at the broadcast table is Alan Zinsmeister, a veteran of Northridge men's basketball broadcasts. Zinsmeister will handle selected road contests and will work alongside Courtland during all home games.

THE LAST TIME OUT ..... Tough defense has always been the benchmark for Cal State Northridge basketball but the Denver Pioneers shot nearly 60% from the floor on the way to an 89-82 non-conference win over the Matadors Tuesday night at Magness Arena. Northridge (4-5), which is last in the Big West in scoring defense, surrendered 89 points to a Denver team which came in averaging just over 68 points per game. The Pioneers converted 26-of-44 shots and were a blistering 10-for-19 from three-point land. A quartet of Matadors attempted the lead Northridge back as senior Willie Galick scored a game-high 20 points to go with nine rebounds. Junior Lenny Daniel had his second double-double of the season with 14 points and a game-high 13 rebounds while Mark Hill chipped in a season-high 12 points (10 in the second half), hitting three treys. Redshirt-sophomore Vinnie McGhee rounded out Northridge's double figure scoring with 11.

MATADORS TAKE OVER BIG WEST SCORING LEAD After averaging 79.0 points on the two-game road trip last week, Northridge boosted its season scoring average to 76.8, the tops in the Big West Conference. The Matadors have scored a conference-best 691 points in nine games and lead Long Beach State by a slim 76.8-76.2 margin in team scoring. Cal State Fullerton is third averaging 74.3 points per game. Conversely, Northridge remains at the bottom of the conference in scoring defense. The Matadors have surrendered 735 points over nine games (81.7 per game) which is over three points per game worse than eighth-place Cal Poly (78.4 points per game). As a team, Northridge is second in the conference in both rebounding offense (37.4) and blocked shots (3.0 per game).

FREQUENT FLYER PROGRAM Following Friday's game against Drexel, the Matadors will close the calendar year by adding to their ever-increasing amount of air miles. Having already accumulated 11,521 miles over the first month and a half of the season, Northridge heads back to Colorado for the second time in the span of two weeks. The Matadors battled sub-zero temperatures in their last trip to Denver but hope for better weather and better results Tuesday against the Buffaloes.

BIG WEST OPENER ON THE HORIZON With a home game against Drexel (Dec. 18) and a road game at Colorado (Dec. 22), the Matadors will put an end to the pre-Big West portion of the 2009-10 schedule. Northridge will open up the Big West season on Jan. 2 at Pacific, before its conference home opener on Jan. 7 against UC Irvine. The Matadors still have four non-conference games remaining this season with a home-and-home series with Seattle (Jan. 11, Jan.19), a road game at CSU Bakersfield (Feb. 10) and a Feb. 20 home date as part of ESPN BracketBuster Saturday.

MATADORS IMPROVE TO 39-13 IN HOME OPENERS With their 81-74 victory over CSU Bakersfield on Nov. 30, the Matadors improved to 39-13 (.750) all-time in home openers. The win also improved Northridge's record to 13-1 (.929) in home openers under Bobby Braswell. The only loss in a home opener under Braswell came in 2001-02 when Nevada knocked off the Matadors 85-75. The Matadome is becoming an increasingly difficult place for opposing teams as the Matadors are now 32-10 (.762) at home over the last three seasons following Thursday's win over Idaho.

52ND SEASON OF NORTHRIDGE BASKETBALL The 2009-10 season marks the 52nd season of Cal State Northridge basketball. Since the program's inception in 1958-59, the Matadors have posted an all-time record of 681-721 (.486). In 1990-91, Northridge made the move to Division I and has since posted a record of 263-297 (.470).

NORTHRIDGE ON THE TUBE The Matadors will make five (possibly seven) regular season television appearances during the 2009-10 season. Northridge will make its Fox Sports debut on Dec. 6 when the Matadors take on the Washington Huskies on FSN Northwest. The Northridge-Colorado contest on Dec. 22 will be on FSN Rocky Mountain before the Matadors will make three (possibly five) appearances as part of the Big West television package. Northridge will appear on FSN West on Feb. 6 (at Long Beach State), Feb. 17 (Cal Poly) and Feb. 27 (at UC Irvine). The Matadors could also be selected among wild card games on Jan. 30 and Feb. 24.

DANIELS SLIPS TO SECOND IN BIG WEST SCORING AT 16.7 PPG After struggling over the last two games, senior forward Kenny Daniels (G/F, 6-4, 210, St. Louis, Mo.) slipped to second in the Big West in scoring at 16.7 per game. Daniels saw his streak of scoring in double figures end at seven games with a seven point scoring night at Washington on Dec. 6. In that game, Daniels was stymied by the 10th-ranked defense of the Huskies and made just 2-of-7 floor shots and 2-of-3 foul shots. On Dec. 8 at Denver, foul trouble sent Daniels to the bench early and he wound up scoring a season-low five points on 2-for-5 shooting. Daniels and the Matadors look to get back on track on Friday as the senior is averaging nearly 28 points per game in two home wins so far this season.

LIZARRAGA ECLIPSES CAREER-HIGHS AGAINST NO. 10 WASHINGTON Junior forward Michael Lizarraga (G, 6-7, 230, Dixon, Calif.) continues to start for the Matadors and continues to provide key minutes. The junior forward has started the last seven games (Northridge is 4-3 over the stretch) and notched career-highs in points (8), field goals (4), blocks (3) and minutes played (20) at No. 10 Washington on Dec. 6. Lizarraga collected six rebounds against the bigger Huskies, including three on the offensive end largely by out-hustling the Washington players. For the season, Lizarraga ranks fourth on the Matadors in rebounds (3.3 per game) and is tied for second in blocks while averaging 13.6 minutes per game.

DANIEL PROVING TO BE AN INSIDE FORCE After a couple fits and starts over the first four games, junior Lenny Daniel (F, 6-7, 210, Richmond, Va.) has found his place among the top big men in the Big West. Daniel, who scored in double figures once in the season's first four games, has reached double figures in the last five games including a season-high 24 points against No. 10 Washington. Daniel finished 8-for-12 from the field against the bigger Huskies and also made all eight free throws in the 24-point effort. He finished the road trip with 14 points and 13 rebounds at Denver, his second double-double in his last four games. Daniel has now moved up to fifth in the conference in rebounding at 7.3 per game and is second in blocked shots (1.1 per game).

MCGHEE EARNS FIRST CAREER START AGAINST DENVER Proving to be a valuable contributer off the bench, Vinnie McGhee (G, 6-0, 165, R-So., Oakland, Calif.) earned the first start of his Matador career against Denver. McGhee, who earned Big Sky Conference Freshman of the Year honors in 2007-08 while at Sacramento State, had appeared in all eight previous games this season off the bench. After scoring 14 points over the first five games (2.8 ppg), McGhee has averaged 14.5 points over the last four games including a season-high 19 points against CSU Bakersfield on Nov. 30. Now ninth in the Big West in field goal percentage (55.1%), McGhee is also 12 for his last 20 (60.0%) from beyond the three-point line.

NORTHRIDGE NOTES Senior Willie Galick is the third player this season to lead the Matadors in scoring off the bench. Galick poured in 20 points against Denver, his second 20+ point scoring effort of the season. McGhee's 19 points off the bench paced Northridge against CSU Bakersfield (Nov. 30) and Kevin Menner had 18 in a reserve role in the season opener at Purdue (Nov. 13) ... The Matadors are the lone remaining Big West team to record a true road win this season after Cal Poly won at South Dakota State on Tuesday.

SCOUTING THE DRAGONS Drexel is 5-5 on the season and has won two straight and five of its last seven games. The Dragons defeated St. Francis (Pa.) 57-35 on Dec 13 holding the Red Flash to nine points in the first half. Drexel is 1-4 on the road this season most recently falling at No. 3 Villanova 77-58. Junior guard Jamie Harris paces the Dragons averaging 14.2 points per game while Drexel is shooting 39.8% as a team while averaging 61.1 ppg.

SERIES HISTORY Friday's game is just the second meeting all-time between Cal State Northridge and Drexel. The Dragons won a defensive struggle 55-47 in the first meeting last December in Philadelphia outscoring the Matadors 33-26 in the second half. Willie Galick had eight points and six rebounds for Northridge in the loss.

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