Matadors Give Tigers First Round Fight, Fall 81-70
March 19, 2009
Final Stats | Photo Gallery
By Bob Vazquez, Assistant Athletic Director (Media Relations)
Kansas City, Mo - If nobody knew about Cal State Northridge before Thursday's game NCAA game against powerful Memphis, they sure know it now.
A national television audience on CBS witnessed one of the most dramatic NCAA Tournament games in recent years as little known Cal State Northridge fought hard and mighty against one of the elite teams in college basketball. It was David vs Goliath, and David almost won.
Facing a Memphis team that played in the NCAA championship game last year, had won 25 straight games, and was seeded #2 in the 2009 NCAA Tournament, the underdog Matadors of Cal State Northridge went to battle like a championship boxer and stood its ground. In essence, CSUN told Memphis, "take your best shot. We're here to stay."
Memphis recorded a 81-70 victory over CSUN to move into the second round of the NCAA Tournament but they won't soon forget the Matadors.
"Obviously I don't even know if I have the words to really say how proud I am of my team," a very emotional Matador head coach Bobby Braswell said to the large group of reporters. "This team showed a lot of heart and tenacity. We asked them to come out here and fight and compete, which we've done all season long, and obviously they came out here and did that tonight. I'm extremely proud of them."
From the very beginning, it was obvious Cal State Northridge would not be pushed around or intimidated. The Matadors took charge from the opening tip off. Only two minutes into the game, CSUN led 9-2. Cal State Northridge surprised the Tigers by playing an extended zone defense.
Memphis, 31-3 entering the game, fought back to tie the game at 11-11 at the 14:53 mark. The Tigers eventually pushed their lead to seven points later in the first half, but the Matadors refused to fold. A seven-point Memphis lead dwindled to three points, 34-31, at halftime.
CSUN's zone defense frustrated Memphis, and the first half stat sheet proved it. Three of Memphis' starters combined for an 0-for-13 shooting effort from the floor. Cal State Northridge, meanwhile, was producing solid numbers to keep the team in the game. Tremaine Townsend and Kenny Daniels each scored nine points while Townsend held his own against the power Memphis front line with seven rebounds and a block.
"I think they (Memphis) were kind of shocked just like the world that we were actually in the game," said Matador point-guard Mark Hill, who finished the contest with 13 points and six assists."
As the crowd grew larger in the 18,000 seat arena to await the second game California and Maryland, it was apparent the incoming crowd, plus several hundred CSUN fans, were going to root for the underdog in the second half against Memphis. Even the CSUN players noticed the crowd was turning in favor of the Matadors. No doubt, a national television audience was rooting for the underdog Matadors.
"What I was most pleased and satisfied with as their coach was how the fans began to support the Matadors," said Braswell. "Considering what this group has gone through and how they've persevered and the maturity that they've shown and the character they've shown, it felt really good to get that kind of response from this crowd."
Down 43-40 with 14:40 remaining in the game, Cal State Northridge continued its relentless desire to beat Memphis. At the 13:56 mark, a Mark Hill three-pointer gave Cal State Northridge a 44-43 lead and then a Willie Galick layup made it 46-43.
With 10:11 to play, a lay up by Vincent Cordell gave Cal State Northridge a 62-56 lead. The large crowd roared its approval as an upset appeared to be within reach.
But Memphis' defense, ranked #1 in the nation, pushed itself into high gear. For nearly five minutes, Cal State Northridge couldn't buy any points and Memphis mounted its own offensive attack. A six-point Matador lead eventually turned into an eleven point Memphis lead, 81-68, with 41 seconds to play. Townsend scored CSUN's last basket of the season on a lay up with 33 seconds left on the clock.
Final score - Memphis 81, Cal State Northridge 70.
Five Matador players scored in double figures. Rodrigue Mels led the attack with 15 points while Kenny Daniels and Tremaine Townsend each added 14 points. Mark Hill tallied 13 points while Willie Galick had 12. Townsend had nine rebounds.
"Today we showed people about Cal State Northridge basketball," said Hill. "We like to run. We have great players. We defend. I think people learned that Cal State Northridge has a great program."
Memphis head coach John Calipari also praised Cal State Northridge for its heroic effort.
"My hats off to Northridge," said Calipari. "They were not intimidated. They did not back down. They played us like teams in our league play us, which is they're not afraid, they battle, they go at us and they were not going away."
Disappointed but proud, the team marched out of the Sprint Arena to catch a plane home to the Cal State Northridge campus. A small group of Matador fans greeted the team when they arrived back home on the Matador campus around 9:30 p.m. Braswell offered a few more words for his team's performance.
"Obviously, we played this game to win," said Braswell. "We didn't want to lose but if you keep things in perspective, this team will go down as one of the greatest at Cal State Northridge."
Cal State Northridge finished the 2008-09 season with a 17-14 record, the second straight winning season, and the sixth-winning season during the tenure of Matador head coach Bobby Braswell ... Braswell now has a career record of 205-181.
*** Rob Haynes played in his 119th game against Memphis on Thursday, second-best all-time at Cal State Northridge and only one game short of the school record set by Jonathan Heard (2004-08).
*** Rob Haynes started 96 games in four seasons (2005-09) at Cal State Northridge, fourth-best in the CSUN record book.
*** Rob Haynes played 2,857 minutes in his four seasons at Cal State Northridge, sixth-best in school history.
*** Rob Haynes ended his Matador career with 163 three-pointers, second-best all-time at Cal State Northridge.
*** Rob Haynes' 395 three-point attempts was third-best in school history.
*** Rob Haynes ended his CSUN career with a three-point field goal percentage of .413 (163-for-395), seventh-best in school history.
*** Rodrigue Mels' single season free throw percentage of .838 (62-for-74) is tenth-best for a single season at Cal State Northridge.
*** Rodrigue Mels' career free throw percentage of .798 (67-for-84) is eighth-best all-time at Cal State Northridge.
*** Willie Galick's single season field goal percentage of .577 (105-for-182) was ninth-best in Matador history.
*** Kenny Daniels' single season field goal percentage of .579 (99-for-171) is seventh-best in school history.
*** Josh Jenkins ended his two-year Matador career with 325 assists, fourth-best in school history.
*** Josh Jenkins had 14 assists against UC Davis (1/5/09), fourth-best for a single game in school history.
*** Tremaine Townsend finished his two-year Matador career with 537 rebounds, eighth-best in school history.
*** Tremaine Townsend's career rebound average of 9.1 rpg is fifth-best in CSUN history.
*** Tremaine Townsend's 67 career blocks is third-best in school history.
*** Tremaine Townsend finished the 2008-09 season with 30 blocks, third-best in school history.
*** Tremaine Townsend recorded four blocks at UC Irvine (2/18/09), third-best for a single game in school history.
*** Deon Tresvant's 119 career three-pointers is tenth-best in school history.
*** Deon Tresvant's career three-point field goal percentage of .398 is eighth-best all-time at Cal State Northridge.
*** Mark Hill had seven steals at Idaho (2/21/09), fifth-best for a single game in school history.
*** The six-game winning streak earlier this year was seventh-best for a single season in school history.
*** The 2,282 points scored this year was ninth-best for a single season in school history.
*** The 215 three-pointers during the 2008-09 season was third-best in school history.
*** The 609 three-point attempts this season was third-best in CSUN history.
*** Cal State Northridge hit .353 from three-point territory this season, tenth-best in school history.
*** The Matadors hit 14 three-pointers at Cal State Fullerton (12/29/08), fifth-best for a single game in school history.
*** Cal State Northridge attempted 30 three-pointers vs Pacific (1/209), fifth-best in school history.
*** Cal State Northridge hit .941 (16-for-17) from the free throw line at Cal State Bakersfield, second-best for a single game in school history.
*** Cal State Northridge grabbed 1,150 rebounds this year, eighth-best for a single season in school history.
*** The rebound margin of +3.6 this year was eighth-best in school history.
*** Cal State Northridge generated 403 offensive rebounds this year, third-best for a single season in school history.
*** Cal State Northridge generated seven blocks at Drexel (12/1/08), seventh-best for a single game in Cal State Northridge history.