Feb. 27, 2010
By Bob Vazquez, Assistant Athletic Director (Media Relations)
Irvine, Calif. - This one really hurt. The pain of another close loss pierced right through the skin right down to the bone. Ouch!!!
The Matadors held an eight-point lead (64-56) with 9:32 to play, but once again could not make the "plays" or the "defensive stops" at critical times that enabled an enthusiastic homecoming crowd of UC Irvine fans watch their Anteaters record a dramatic come-from-behind 79-74 decision Saturday night at The Bren Center in a Big West game.
"The horror continues for us," said a very somber head coach Bobby Braswell as he surveyed the box score that could have easily been a Matador win, but resulted in a very crushing CSUN loss.
Cal State Northridge has now played eleven games decided by five points or less this year. Eight of those games have been in the loss column. Only two other seasons has Cal State Northridge played in so many five point or less games in its 52-year history.
The Anteaters rallied back to take a 77-74 lead with nine seconds remaining, but the Matadors had the ball and a chance to tie. But a missed Mark Hill three-pointer with one second to play to possibly tie the game fell off the rim, and UCI added two more free throws to grab the win from a very disheartened Matador team.
"In the end, we had to make plays," said Braswell. "They (UC Irvine) did. We didn't."
Cal State Northridge came out ready to play. The Matadors led through most of the first half including their biggest lead (8 points), 31-23, with 5:58 left before halftime. But again, Cal State Northridge couldn't maintain the lead. UC Irvine outscored the visitors, 11-2, in the next three minutes to take a 34-33 lead. The Anteaters eventually led at halftime, 37-35.
UC Irvine controlled the backboard in the first half, 21-16. In the locker room, Braswell challenged the team to play tough, determined basketball. It worked. Cal State Northridge outrebounded UC Irvine, 25-8, in the second half which helped contribute to the eight-point lead, 64-56, with 9:32 left in the game.
But another inspection of the box score, as Braswell pointed out, showed the Anteaters shot 50 percent from the floor, including 4-of-5 from three-point territory in the second half. UCI also hit 14-of-18 free throw attempts in the final 20 minutes.
"We knew this was going to be a close game," Braswell told reporters. "Once again, we didn't make plays."
Cal State Northridge now is 5-9 in Big West play, tied for seventh place with UC Riverside and UC Irvine.
Lenny Daniels' two blocks gives him 37 for the season which ties the school record set by Tremaine Townsend (2007-08) ... Kenny Daniels, once again, led the Matador attack with 20 points and five rebounds ... Willie Galick put in 18 points (12-of-14 from the free throw line) while Daniel added 16 points and nine rebounds.