March 12, 2011
By Bob Vazquez, Assistant Athletic Director (Media Relations)
Anaheim, Ca. - It's never easy when the basketball season comes to an end. The young men who play the sport, or any sport, love the game they play and when the curtain draws the season to a close, it is as if someone has taken something precious away from you.
Such was the case on Friday night in the semi finals at the ampm Big West Tournament when the Cal State Northridge season came to an abrupt end with an 83-63 loss to UC Santa Barbara.
"I've had the privilege, the honor and been blessed to coach a wonderful group of guys," said head coach Bobby Braswell. "This team never quit. They kept listening. They kept learning. As a coach that's all you can ever ask for."
The game marked the end of the Matador careers of seniors Raymond Cody, Lenny Daniel, Dathan Lyles, Michael Lizarraga and Rashaun McLemore. This quintet of players accounted for 304 games, 2,175 points, 1,105 rebounds, 313 assists, 199 steals and 121 blocks.
"The five seniors have done a tremendous job in helping mold the team," said Braswell who coached a team that included six freshmen on the 13-man roster. "We were picked to finish eighth or ninth in the conference. But these kids fought and battled to finish in third place. As a coach I couldn't be more pleased."
UC Santa Barbara, predicted to win the Big West Conference, displayed a talent that pushed them into Sunday's tournament championship game against Long Beach State. The Gauchos started a taller, bigger lineup that forced CSUN to play a zone defense. The openings in the zone were to the liking of UCSB's Orlando Johnson, the league's leading scorer who scorched Cal State Northridge for a game-high 30 points, 20 in the first half.
While Johnson was hitting shots from the outside, UCSB's Jaime Serna had his way inside with 16 points, nine rebounds and three blocks.
UCSB raced to a 40-19 halftime lead fueled by 50 percent shooting. CSUN only hit .222 from the floor.
"Our offense feeds off our defense, and we didn't get enough defensive stops," said Braswell. "That really made it tough on us in the first half. A tough game but give Santa Barbara credit."
Despite the double-digit deficit throughout much of the game, Cal State Northridge never quit. In the second half, CSUN's defense held the Gauchos to only .278 shooting.
"At halftime, I told the team to fight back and just make some defensive plays," said Braswell. "We didn't quit. We kept competing."
Cal State Northridge end the season 14-18.
"I've had a great time here at Cal State Northridge," said Daniel, who ended his two-year Matador career with 863 points, 528 rebounds, and two school records with 265 single season free throw attempts and 82 career blocks. "I have made some great friends and teammates. They will be my friends forever."
Matador Memo ...
Lenny Daniel had 19 points and eleven rebounds against UC Santa Barbara, his 17th double-double this year and 25 in two seasons at Cal State Northridge.