Jan. 27, 2011
By Bob Vazquez, Assistant Athletic Director, Media Relations
Irvine, Calif. - Time was running out in the game, and Cal State Northridge held a fragile lead over rallying UC Irvine, 60-59.
Rashaun McLemore had the ball far past the three-point line and a UC Irvine defender closely guarded the Matador senior.
McLemore, who had missed the last two games because of a knee strain, needed to make a play as the shot clock was nearing zero. McLemore simply jumped, looked at the basket and fired away.
Bingo!!! ... The long three-point attempt sailed off the backboard and nestled through the hoop and that gave visiting Cal State Northridge a 63-59 lead with 22 seconds left on the clock.
McLemore added to his heroics with a free throw with five seconds left, and Dathan Lyles calmly hit two free throws with two seconds on the clock to give the Matadors a dramatic 66-62 victory over UC Irvine in a Big West Conference men's basketball game on Thursday night at the Bren Center.
"These guys really deserve this win," said an emotional CSUN head coach Bobby Braswell. "They have worked so hard the last couple weeks. I have demanded a lot from them."
In the last four games, the Matadors have instituted a substitution system where five guys are brought into the game if the team on the court gives up five points or allows an offensive rebound to the opposition. The wholesale substitution pattern means the entire roster knows it has a distinctive chance to make a contribution in the game. Nine of the 13 players on the varsity roster saw double-digit minutes against UC Irvine. Three other players played at least eight minutes.
"Knowing that everybody has a chance to make a contribution, the players are eager to get out there on the floor," said Braswell. "It has given us an edge."
The win gave Cal State Northridge its first road victory of the 2010-11 season, broke a three-game losing streak to UC Irvine, and broke a five-game losing to the Anteaters on their home court.
Four Cal State Northridge players scored in double-figures. McLemore tallied 15 points along with five rebounds. Lyles added 14 points, Lenny Daniel produced his tenth double-double of the year in getting 12 points and ten rebounds. Freshman Aqeel Quinn contributed ten points.
CSUN's defense held UC Irvine to only 32 percent from the floor, and only 23 percent from three-point territory. The Anteaters had entered the game leading the Big West Conference in 3-point field goal percentage (.373).
Cal State Northridge raised its overall record to 7-13 and 4-3 in the Big West Conference. UC Irvine fell to 10-11 overall and 3-4 in league play.
The Matadors reside in second place in the Big West Conference along with UC Santa Barbara. The Gauchos scored a 71-70 victory over Cal Poly on Thursday night.
Cal State Northridge travels to UCSB on Saturday, January 29, at 7:05 pm at The Thunderdome.
Matador Memo ... Lenny Daniel had a block against UC Irvine to give him 66 for his career ... That moves Daniel into fourth place all-time in the CSUN record book with Cliff Higgins (1981-84).