Jan. 14, 2010
By Lee Barnathan
Northridge, Calif. - The record shows that Cal State Northridge beat UC Riverside 64-50 Thursday night at The Matadome to earn its first Big West Conference victory of the season.
But look closer: The system won.
Head coach Bobby Braswell has stressed defense for his entire 14-season run at the helm. To oversimplify: defense leads to steals, which leads to the fast break, which leads to easy buckets.
But Braswell missed the game to tend to a family medical emergency, stunning the players and allowing associate head coach Louis Wilson to take over.
It took just about the entire game for the players to come out of their funk, but when they did, they showed the crowd of 1,008 that the system works.
A 17-2 run over the last 6:38 of the game turned a 48-47 Riverside lead into CSUN's (6-10, 1-3) 11th consecutive victory over the Highlanders (7-9, 1-3). In that run, Kenny Daniels scored seven of his 17 points and Lenny Daniel scored four of his 10 points, took five of his eight rebounds, and had one of his two steals.
Northridge had no fast-break points in the first half. In the second half, it had nine.
"Our system is such that they can run the team. I try to stay out of the way," Wilson said. "The system got us through tonight. Thank God for the system."
Trailing 46-45 with 7:09 to play, the team called timeout. Guard Mark Hill said that in that huddle, everyone decided to "go all out on defense."
"We know what we can do," said Hill, who had five points and six assists. " From Day One, he (Braswell) told us how to run the program. ... (Thursday) was like a regular game. We ran the system."
CSUN's defense held UC Riverside to 15 percent shooting in the second half and 29 percent for the game, compared to 39 percent in the second half for the Matadors and 34 percent for the game. Kyle Austin, the Highlanders' preseason all-conference selection, scored 18 points, but 12 came in the first half, when Riverside led 35-32. Austin, guarded mostly by Daniel, made just 2 of 9 field-goal attempts in the second half.
So now the Matadors take to the road where they will be seeking their first road win of the year at first place Cal State Fullerton on Saturday. Then it's off to Seattle University on Tuesday and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo on Jan. 23.
The system, of course, will be there, too.
The last six Matador victories over Riverside have been by at least 12 points ... Associate head coach Louis Wilson insisted that head coach Bobby Braswell gets credit for this victory ... Braswell is now 14-3 against Riverside ... The Highlanders' last victory was Mar.4, 2004, a 72-71 overtime victory at The Matadome. ... Cal State Northridge has one more three-game homestand this season: Feb. 13 against Fullerton, Feb. 17 against Cal Poly and the ESPN Bracketbuster game Feb. 20.