Jan. 12, 2010
By Lee Barnathan
Northridge, Calif. - Four days later, something different appeared at The Matadome: a basketball team with drive, desire and a full complement of players.
This was not the same Matador squad that struggled with confidence last week against UC Irvine. This team shot with confidence, played with confidence; and when visiting Seattle rallied Monday night, this team found ways to rebuild leads.
So it was that CSUN ended its seven-game losing streak with a 98-90 non-conference victory over the Redhawks and their NBA prospect, Charles Garcia, proving once again that a team beats an individual every time.
"It feels real, real good," said Vinnie McGhee, who scored a career-best 22 points, "especially against a team like that that beat Oregon State by that many points."
True, Seattle (7-11) went to Corvallis on Jan.6 and routed the Beavers 99-48. And, true, Garcia came in averaging 21.5 points per game. Also true that Northridge (5-10) didn't stop Garcia as the 6-feet-10 center scored 34 points and had 14 rebounds. In fact, he had a double-double with about seven minutes remaining -- in the first half.
But Northridge had much more. In addition to McGhee, Kenny Daniels scored 19 points and Lenny Daniel scored 11 points and had 12 rebounds. Also, Rashaun McLemore returned from a back injury that had kept him out since Nov. 30 against Cal State Bakersfield. He scored 14 points and provided leadership.
"He's the emotional and vocal leader," Daniel said. "He brings the intangibles we needed."
Other aspects CSUN brought: its free-throw shooting and its ability to open previously lost leads. After an Aaron Broussard 3-pointer cut the Northridge lead to 51-45, McGhee and Daniels combined for 11 points in helping the Matadors build the lead to 71-55. Later, an 11-0 Seattle run got the Redhawks to within six again, 77-71, with 4:20 to play.
From that point forward, Northridge was clutch enough at the line, making 21 of 26, with McGhee making seven and Mark Hill making six. In fact, CSUN made 34 of 49 for the game and did not attempt a field goal over the last 5:59.
Seattle made 23 of 34 free throws, helping stretch the game to about two and a half hours.
"I've got a headache," Matadors coach Bobby Braswell said as he came into the interview room. "Way too many fouls and free throws."
He was smiling when he said that. A victory will do that.
"It was good to get a win, and the way we got it," Braswell said. "There was a stretch where we were up by 14 and we played not to lose. But I thought we responded well."
The teams play again Jan. 19 in Seattle ... The Redhawks will be looking for their first win over the Matadors, who are 2-0 against them ... Both wins have been played at The Matadome ... Lenny Daniel earned his fourth double-double of the season ... The CSUN starting lineup (Lenny Daniel, Kenny Daniels, Mark Hill, Therin Taylor, Tony Osunsanmi) was the ninth different lineup Braswell has used. ... Seven NBA teams, including scouts for the Lakers, Clippers, Cavaliers and Nuggets, requested credentials for the game ... The last time there was this much interest was Feb. 23, 2008 when Jason Thompson and Rider came through ... Thompson plays for the Sacramento Kings ... CSUN head coach Bobby Braswell said he thought Garcia was better offensively than Thompson ... Monday's game, scheduled for 8 p.m., actually started at 8:27 because 30 minutes was needed to clear the gym after the women's basketball game between Cal State Northridge and Cal State Bakersfield.