March 11, 2011
By Bob Vazquez, Assistant Athletic Director (Media Relations)
Anaheim, Calif. - From the opening tipoff to the final buzzer, the Matador defense took center stage.
The reviews are in. Bravo for Cal State Northridge.
As CSUN head coach Bobby Braswell told reporters in the post-game press conference, "That was probably the best 40 minutes of defense we have played all season. We were concerned about Fullerton's ability to score, but our mindset was very good. We knew it was going to be difficult to beat Fullerton for a third time this year unless we played the kind of defense we played tonight."
CSUN's defense held Cal State Fullerton to only .339 shooting (19-for-56), only .267 (4-for-15) from behind the arc, forced the Titans into 17 turnovers and outrebounded the opponent, 41-34.
Oh yeah ... CSUN's offense was pretty efficient as well. The Matadors, seeded third in the tournament, shot .500 (24-for-48) from the floor en route to a highly convincing 75-54 victory over the Titans in the first round of the Big West Conference Tournament on Thursday night at the Honda Center.
Not since the 1966-67 season has Cal State Northridge scored a three-game series sweep over Cal State Fullerton.
Cal State Northridge led the entire game. A Raymond Cody jumper at 19:21 of the game started the CSUN avalanche that grew to as many as 18 points, 35-17, with 5:38 before intermission.
Cal State Northridge continued the onslaught in the second half. A 43-28 half time lead grew to as many as 23 points (64-41) with 9:36 on the block.
Lenny Daniel put together another workman like effort with 19 points, nine rebounds and three blocks in 28 minutes. Vinnie McGhee chipped in with 16 points that included three 3-pointers. Michael Lizarraga added ten points along with nine rebounds.
The victory moved CSUN into Friday's semifinals against UC Santa Barbara at 9:00 p.m. The Gauchos, seeded fifth, advanced with a 79-67 verdict over Pacific.
Cal State Northridge has beaten UCSB twice this season with a 60-59 victory at UCSB (1/29/11) and then a 68-60 decision on Feb. 24 at The Matadome. Braswell admits beating UCSB three times in one season won't be easy.
"We will have our work cut out for us on Saturday," said Braswell. "UCSB was picked to win the conference. They have a lot of veteran players who have been in this position before. We know what we have to do."
Matador Memo ...
Michael Lizarraga's inspirational story has gone international ... A film crew from Telemundo, an American television network that broadcasts in Spanish, was in attendance at Thursday night's game ... Telemundo's story included an interview with Michael's father, Tavo, who was interviewed in Spanish ... Telemundo is the second-largest Spanish-language content producer in the world ... Lenny Daniel's three blocks against Cal State Fullerton gives him 81 career blocks, one short of the school record held by Thomas Shewmake (82, 2003-07) ... Shewmake got the school record in 117 games while Daniel has played only 60 career games (2009-10, 2010-11) at Cal State Northridge ... Daniel now has 37 blocks this year, second-best for a single season at Cal State Northridge and seven short of Lenny's school record set last year ... Three more free throw attempts by Daniel extends his school record to 247 ... Daniel now has scored 507 points this year, tenth-best for a single season in school history.