March 2, 2008
Irvine, Calif. - There is something about playing at UCI's Bren Center that brings out the absolute best in the Anteaters men's basketball team.
Entering Saturday night's game against first place Cal State Northridge, the Anteaters had won all ten home on-campus games (9-0 at the Bren Center, 1-0 at Crawford Court). The Matadors became the tenth visiting team to leave the Bren Center with a loss, a 82-66 decision in a Big West game on Saturday night.
Despite the fact that the Matadors turned the ball over 16 times compared to only six assists, hit only 8-of-29 (.276) three-point attempts, and were out rebounded, 33-29, CSUN was only down three points, 60-57, with 4:48 to play. Twelve minutes earlier, Cal State Northridge was down by 16 points, 51-35. A 22-9 run included eleven points by Deon Tresvant. However, the Matadors shot themselves in the foot when UCI's Michael Hunter hit a three-pointer and was fouled. The added free throw by Hunter gave the Anteaters a seven-point lead, 64-57, and the Matadors couldn't mount another rally in the final four minutes.
"We just looked emotionally drained from the beginning," said Matadors head coach Bobby Braswell. "Our energy level just wasn't good tonight. UCI was clearly the more aggressive team. They were a lot more hungry than we were. Give UC Irvine credit. They executed, shot well. We didn't."
Tresvant, once again, came off the bench to tally 18 points in 28 minutes of play. Josh Jenkins added 13 points while Tremaine Townsend added to his league's best double-double total (9) with 12 rebounds and eleven points.
The Matadors loss, coupled with a 85-51 victory by second place Cal State Fullerton over Long Beach State, cut CSUN's lead in the Big West to one-half game with one week to play in the regular conference season. Cal State Northridge is 11-3 in the Big West while the Titans are in second place at 11-4. UC Santa Barbara, a 73-55 winner over UC Riverside, suddenly is back in the league race. The Gauchos, who visit The Matadome next Thursday (3/6/08, 7:05 p.m.), are in third place in the Big West at 10-4, one game back of the Matadors. Cal State Northridge then closes out the league regular season on March 8 (5:00 p.m.) against Cal Poly.
"Right now, we just want to get home and make sure everybody is healthy," said Braswell. "You couldn't ask for a better scenario. We get to play our last two games at home in front of our fans. I think our guys will be fired up and ready to go."
Matador Minute ... Tremaine Townsend tied the school record against UC Irvine for single season blocks ... Townsend had two blocks against the Anteaters to give him 30 for the season to tie Thomas Shewmake (2005-06) ... Senior all-conference candidate Jonathan Heard picked up three rebounds against UC Irvine to give him 526 for his career, and move into ninth all-place all-time at CSUN ahead of Jeff Parris (1997-01, 524).