Jan. 16, 2011
Bob Vazquez, Assistant Athletic Director (Media Relations)
Northridge, Calif. - If you listen close enough, you can hear the sound of that classic song "We are Family" echoing through The Matadome on Saturday night, the home of the Cal State Northridge men's basketball team.
Sister Sledge, the R&B singing group that made that song famous, would have been proud if they had witnessed CSUN's dismantling of a Cal State Fullerton team that had beaten the Matadors seven straight times on CSUN's home court.
At game's end, The Matadome was rockin' as Cal State Northridge staged a convincing 89-65 victory over the Titans in a Big West Conference game.
"We're family," proclaimed junior guard Vinnie McGhee, who propelled his way to 15 points which included three baskets from behind the arc. "This team started working hard during the summer to be together. Our seniors are our 'papas' for the younger fellas. We're going to enjoy this win and then get ready for our next opponent."
CSUN's winning composition started on the defensive end of the court. At Friday's practice and continuing through Saturday's shoot around, head coach Bobby Braswell focused the ENTIRE time on DEFENSE.
"We went over the league statistics and showed the team we were in last place in every defensive category," Braswell told reporters. "In past years, we dominated the defensive stats. I told them as long as I'm coaching the team I would not put up with this year's defensive stats. I presented them with a challenge. They were going to sink or swim. Tonight they stepped up."
CSUN's defense simply smothered CSF's offense. The visitors shot only .365 from the floor and were out rebounded, 41-29.
"What I explained to the team was their defensive mind-set," said Braswell. "When you're getting defensive stops, your offense becomes a whole lot easier. When you're playing defense, you're going to stay in the game. We were also patient on offense. It all worked out tonight."
Lenny Daniel, who collected his ninth double-double of the season with 18 points and 13 rebounds, agreed with Braswell's assessment.
"The game plan was to play solid defense for 40 minutes," said Daniel. "Our defense led to some easy baskets."
Those easy baskets translated into a .556 shooting percentage (30-for-54) for Cal State Northridge. The team shot 50 percent (8-for-16) from behind the arc. Cal State Northridge recorded 27 assists on 30 baskets.
Three of Cal State Fullerton's top scorers, Andre Hardy, Orane Chin and Devon Peltier had entered the game averaging 14.6, 14.3 and 13.8 points per game, respectively. The trio ended the night with only 19 points (3-for-21 from the floor).
"The game plan worked," said McGhee, who was assigned to guard one of the top players in the league, Devon Peltier, who ended up with eight points on 1-for-6 shooting. "Our defense opened up our offense."
Braswell noticed the defensive work of McGhee. "Vinnie (McGhee) played the best defensive game of his life. Josh Greene also did a great job (defending Devon Peltier).
While freshman Josh Greene scored nine points along with three assists in 16 minutes off the bench, another freshman. Aqeel Quinn, got to play 18 minutes and the result ... eleven points (6-for-6 from the free throw line) along with five assists and four rebounds.
"Coach Braswell told me just to be ready and play my game," said Quinn.
Greene and Quinn are best friends on-and-off the court. They feed off each other, according to Braswell. "They arrive at the gym together. They work together."
Cal State Fullerton briefly led, 5-3, with 15:21 left in the first half. Cal State Northridge then took an 8-5 lead on a three-pointer by Josh Greene to give the Matadors a lead they never surrendered.
The CSUN lead jumped to double-digits, 35-25, with 1:31 left on the first half clock on a jumper by Vinnie McGhee.
Cal State Northridge led at halftime, 41-25.
The onslaught continued in the second half. Cal State Northridge led by as many as 26 points, 89-63, with 23 seconds left on the arena clock.
Cal State Northridge raised its season record to 5-12 overall and 2-3 in the Big West Conference. Cal State Fullerton fell to 6-12 overall and 2-4 in the conference.
Cal State Northridge returns to action on Wednesday, January 19, in a non-league rematch against Seattle University. Tipoff is 7:05 p.m. Earlier this year, Seattle scored a 65-58 victory over the Matadors in the Emerald City. At 5:00 p.m., the Matador women's basketball team hosts the University of San Diego (USD).
Matador Memo ...
The rivalry between Cal State Northridge and Cal State Fullerton drew television coverage from Channel 2 and Channel 5 in Los Angeles ... Channel 5 reporter Liberte Chan's live report on KTLA focused in on the story of Michael Lizarraga, who is the only deaf basketball player competing on the NCAA Division I level ... Lizarraga collected eight rebounds (4-for-5 from the floor) in CSUN's 89-65 victory over Cal State Fullerton ... Lenny Daniel, with 18 points and 13 rebounds tonight against Cal State Fullerton, now has 17 double-doubles in his two-year Matador career ... Daniel also collected two blocks to give him a team-leading 17 for the season and 61 in his two-year Matador ... Daniel is only one block short of catching Calvin Chitwood (2004-08) in fifth place in career blocks in the CSUN record book ... Freshman Jordan Mitchell made his first career start and responded with a season-high four rebounds in 15 minutes of play ... Dathan Lyles tied his career-high with nine assists with only one turnover ... In eight games this year, Vinnie McGhee has three or more 3-pointers ... Tonight against Cal State Fullerton, McGhee had three baskets from behind the arc ... Freshman Aqeel Quinn produced career-highs in points (11), free throws (6), assists (5) and rebounds (4).