February 6, 2011

Cal State Northridge Downs UC Irvine, 91-83

Box Score - CSUN vs UCI Get Acrobat Reader

Feb. 6, 2011

By Bob Vazquez, Assistant Athletic Director (Media Relations)

Northridge, Calif. - The final stat line for Lenny Daniel looked exceptional with a team-high 22 points (7-for-9 from the floor, 8-for-9 from the free throw line) and a game-high ten rebounds to help Cal State Northridge record a 91-83 victory over UC Irvine in a Big West Conference game Saturday night at The Matadome.

But all Daniel wanted to tell reporters was the exceptional team chemistry that is growing in the Matador locker room.

"Winning changes everything," said Daniel, who recorded his 12th double-double (points-rebounds) of the season and 20th in his two-year Matador career. "Winning changes your mentality, the way you approach the game. We feel we can shut down the other team when we need to. It feels real good."

In seven games since CSUN instituted a five-man substitution pattern, the Matadors have recorded a 5-2 ledger, held the opposition to only .377 shooting from the floor and only .291 from three-point territory.

The five-man substitution routine is simple. A new platoon of reserves enters the game when the Matador team on the court gives up five points or allows an offensive rebound. The substitution plan keeps everybody on the bench mentally sharp because of the opportunity to play sizable minutes. Nine players have generated double-digit minutes in the last seven games. Two other players have averaged a little more than nine minutes per game.

In Saturday's win against UC Irvine, eleven of the 13 CSUN players played at least eleven minutes. The results proved effective for the Matadors. Cal State Northridge shot .542 from the floor while holding the Anteaters to only .379. The Matadors also outrebounded UC Irvine, 40-30.

Three CSUN reserves scored in double figures led by Rashaun McLemore with 18 points. Josh Greene added 13 points while Aqeel Quinn chipped in with 12.

The senior class of Lenny Daniel, Rashaun McLemore, Dathan Lyles, Michael Lizarraga and Raymond Cody have used their influence and experience to give leadership to the other eight Matador players which includes six freshmen.

"When we (the younger players) get down, they (the seniors) are always right there to pick us up," said Quinn, who in addition to his season-high 12 points (3-for-4 from the floor, 2-2 from three-point territory) dished out a season-high seven assists and grabbed three rebounds. "We learn from them and we see how hard they work in practice."

Cal State Northridge jumped to its biggest lead of the game on two occasions, 18 points. The Matadors led 31-13 with 9:28 left in the first half, and again at 33-15 with 8:12 left before intermission.

UC Irvine cut the CSUN lead to only three points, 40-37, with 2:40 left before intermission. But the Matadors mounted their own rally to take a 49-40 halftime lead.

Cal State Northridge led by as many as 12 points, 67-55, with 8:45 remaining in the game. UC Irvine could get no closer than seven points.

Cal State Northridge raised its season record to 9-14 and 6-4 (second place) in the Big West Conference. UC Irvine fell to 10-14 overall and 3-7 in league play.

Matador Memo ...
Lenny Daniel is inching closer to the Matador school record for career blocks ... With a block against UC Irvine, Daniel now has 71 career blocks in two seasons at CSUN, third-best in school history ... Only Thomas Shewmake (82, 2003-07) and Brian Heinle (1997-01, 76) stand in Daniels' way ... Over two seasons, Daniel is averaging 8.5 rebounds per game, ninth-best in school history ... With a game-high ten rebounds against UCI, Daniel has led the Matadors in rebounding in 19 of the 23 games ... Dana O'Neill, a senior college basketball reporter with espn.com, was in attendance at the CSUN-UCI game ... O'Neill is writing a feature story on Michael Lizarraga, the only deaf playing competing on the NCAA Division I level ... Her story is expected to run on Feb. 16 on espn.com ... Another story on Lizarraga is expected in the near future in the Los Angeles Times.