March 4, 2010
By Lee Barnathan
Northridge, Calif. - Like so many roller coasters, all the twists, turns, drops, lunges, loops and curves ultimately lead to an end. In Cal State Northridge's case, the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel is the Big West Conference tournament.
Maybe nonbelievers out there were skeptical the Matadors could reach it, after so many close losses that clearly took their toll. It was etched on Kenny Daniels' face when UC Davis cut a 10-point CSUN lead to one point with less than two minutes to play.
Daniels' look seemed to say: "Oh no. Not again."
Daniels scored 26 points, Galick scored 18 points with 14 rebounds, and Daniel scored 17 points with 15 rebounds in the Matadors' 70-66 victory over the Aggies at The Matadome on Thursdsy night. The trio scored the team's final 23 points and finished with 19 of 21 field goals and 23 of 26 free throws.
"After being in so many close ones, 10-, eight-, six-point leads, we all kind of get that feeling, that butterfly feeling," Galick told reporters in the post-game press conference.
Cal State Northridge (11-19, 6-9) led 65-55 with less than four minutes to go before UC Davis (12-17, 7-8) scored nine in a row to close to within 65-64 with 1:37 to play. But then the Aggies were called for a 10-second violation and a backdoor turnover. Daniels responded with a breakaway dunk with 27.5 seconds to play for a three-point cushion.
But a Daniel foul and two Mark Payne free throws put UC Davis down by one point again, and Galick was fouled with 17.1 seconds to go.
Galick made the first free throw but missed the second -- and grabbed the offensive rebound.
"Willie's rebound off that free throw was just incredible," head coach Bobby Braswell said.
Daniels got the ball, was fouled and made two free throws.
The defense also was better, holding the Aggies to 36-percent shooting on the night and severely limiting UC Davis' top scorers.
Dominic Calegari scored a career-best 28 points against the Matadors in the game at Davis Jan. 4. On Thursday, he scored 14. Joe Harden scored 14 points before fouling out. Mark Payne scored 18 but just five in the first half.
"We challenged our post guys to make it hard on Calegari and Payne," Braswell said.
Another bright spot for CSUN ... Lenny Daniel broke the school record for blocks in a season when he swatted away a Jacob Ranger attempt with 5:20 to go in the first half ... It was Daniel's 38th of the season, breaking Tremaine Townsend's two-year record of 37 ... Daniel also leads the conference ... Against the Aggies, he blocked three more to give him 41 to enhance his new record ... He said he was aware of the record, so "now I can relax and block some more." ... Daniel also is third in rebounding (220) and fifth in field-goal percentage (.492) in the league ... These numbers include his 15 rebounds and 8-for-13 shooting night against UCD ... Lenny Daniel leads the team and is second in the conference with eight double-doubles ... Kenny Daniels led the Matadors tonight with 26 points and four rebounds... Head coach Bobby Braswell used the same starting lineup for the second consecutive game: Lenny Daniel, Kenny Daniels, Willie Galick, Dathan Lyles and Therin Taylor. ... Braswell is 9-2 against UC Davis ... Rashaun McLemore missed his fifth consecutive game with a bad back ... Mark Hill sat out with the flu. ... The Matadors scored their first nine field goals and 18 of their first 23 points in the paint ... In fact, CSUN didn't make an outside field goal until Kenny Daniels made a left-side jumper with 4:42 remaining in the first half.