Jan. 22, 2011
By Bob Vazquez, Assistant Athletic Director (Media Relations)
Northridge, Calif. - Cal Poly had entered Saturday's game against Cal State Northridge with some pretty impressive defensive statistics.
The Mustangs had led the nation in 3-point field goal percentage defense (.294) and was tenth in scoring defense (58.2). Cal Poly's defense had held opponents to under 60 points in eight games, and no Mustang opponent had scored more than 73 points in their 17 games.
Cal State Northridge saw Cal Poly's impressive defensive statistics and accepted the hefty challenge. Playing perhaps its best overall game of the 2010-11 campaign, the Matadors shot .579 from the field (22-for-38), 50 percent from 3-point territory (8-for-16), held Cal Poly to only .377 shooting (20-for-53) and outrebounded the visitors, 31-28, en route to a highly convincing 80-65 Matador victory that left Matador head coach Bobby Braswell beaming with pride about his team's total effort.
"This is the kind of environment we need this team to play if we're going to have a chance to be successful," Braswell said as he surveyed the box score. "We showed some toughness down the stretch which made it easier for our offense to operate."
Cal Poly had won three straight road games, and their impressive defensive statistics entering the game had elevated themselves into second place in the Big West Conference.
Cal State Northridge accepted the challenge. Now let's play!!!
Vinnie McGhee and Lenny Daniel combined for 38 points to lead a quartet of Cal State Northridge double-digit scorers in the televised (Fox Sports Prime Ticket) Big West Conference men's basketball game on Saturday afternoon at The Matadome. Freshman Josh Greene continued his high intensity play with 14 points (9-for-9 from the free throw line) while Dathan Lyles chipped in with eleven points, six assists and two steals.
McGhee's 20 points were a season-high and only two points short of his career-high set last year against Seattle University. McGhee hit 6-of-8 shots from the floor including 3-for-5 from three-point territory.
Daniel had 18 points, ten of which came from the free throw line.
The Mustangs led 31-29 at halftime, but Cal State Northridge exploded for 51 second-half points on .684 shooting.
In the last three games, CSUN's defense has emerged with a renewed aggressiveness. A group of five players normally has been substituted at a time.
The plan has worked during that three-game span. The Matadors have held opponents to only .363 from the floor while the offense has settled in at a .535 clip.
"I told the team that if a group gives up one offensive rebound or allows five points, that group is coming out of the game," revealed Braswell. "That has made the team think a lot more about defense. We're going to continue to challenge them. Getting defensive stops is going to make a difference."
Cal State Northridge raised its season record to 6-13. The Matadors are 3-3 in the Big West Conference. Cal Poly fell to 8-10 overall and 4-3 in league competition.
"At halftime, Coach Braswell stressed defense," McGhee told reporters. "This team is built on Northridge defense. Everybody regrouped, got energized, played defense and that led to some easy baskets."
The Matadors now hit the road for games at UC Irvine (1/27/11, 7:05 p.m.) and at league favorite UC Santa Barbara (1/29/11, 7:05 p.m.).
"Next week, we're going to go hard in practice and focus in on our next game at UC Irvine, said McGhee.
Matador Memo ...
The oldest series in Cal State Northridge basketball history (86 games) is against Cal Poly ... Cal Poly leads the series 44-42 ... Michael Lizarraga produced a career-high nine rebounds ... His previous best was eight boards this year at Cal State Bakersfield ... Lenny Daniel had two blocks against Cal Poly to give him 65 for his career, only one short of catching Cliff Higgins (1981-84) in fourth place in the school record book ... The school record holder is Thomas Shewmake (2003-07) with 82 ... Vinnie McGhee hit three 3-pointers against Cal Poly ... In eight games this year, McGhee has hit three or more 3-pointers in a game ... In 15 of the 19 games this year, McGhee has hit at least one 3-pointer ... In the last four games, freshman guard Josh Greene has scored 49 points, an average of 12.3 ppg.