Nov. 28, 2010
By Bob Vazquez, Assistant Athletic Director (Media Relations)
Anaheim, Calif. - Cal State Northridge never shies away from tough competition. Sunday was no exception.
Already this year, the Matadors have faced Pac-10 powers UCLA and California, and Virginia Tech from the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). Those three teams always have NCAA Tournament aspirations. The schedule has also included DePaul from the Big East Conference.
Sunday afternoon at the 76 Classic at the Anaheim Convention Center, Cal State Northridge faced the Tulsa Golden Hurricane, another team that aspires to be NCAA Tournament bound in 2010-11. Consider this, Tulsa has collected four straight 20-win seasons, and has been to three straight post-season appearances, including the last two NIT events.
On Sunday, Tulsa proved to be a little too physical and experienced for Cal State Northridge in scoring a workman-like 80-63 victory over the Matadors.
Matador head coach Bobby Braswell knew this was going to be a "grind it out" contest for 40 minutes. Braswell acknowledged Tulsa's physical talent and style of play while giving praise to his team for putting up a fight.
"I told the guys after the game that if our focus was good and we did the right things, we would be ok," Braswell told reporters. "We came out short, and it was a tough game because we were a few players short due to cramping and illness."
The Golden Hurricane led from the opening tipoff, scoring the game's first points on a three-pointer by Scottie Haralson at 18:38. Tulsa led by as many as eleven points in the first half.
At halftime, Tulsa led Cal State Northridge, 41-30.
Cal State Northridge didn't crash and burn in the second half. The Matadors kept punching away at their taller opponents, but turnovers and missed free throws proved to be CSUN's downfall.
"We didn't defend well in the first half and Tulsa shot 56 percent from the field," as Braswell surveyed the box score. "We battled back in the second half with three straight stops, but we turned the ball over on two of those stops. We have to convert free throws and free shots when we have them."
All was not doom-and-gloom for Cal State Northridge. Lenny Daniel continued to be a dominant scorer and rebounder for a second straight day. After scoring a career-high 31 points and ten rebounds on Saturday against DePaul, Daniel collected 24 points (9-for-12) along with eight rebounds and two blocks in 33 minutes against Tulsa.
"I'm starting to get a feel for the game," said Daniel. "I was also able to find my teammates and was able to get them the ball if I couldn't make a shot."
Tulsa head coach Doug Wojick highlighted Daniels' talents on the Golden Hurricane scouting report.
"I think our defense was pretty alert, but Lenny Daniel was pretty tough on us," said Wojick.
Vinnie McGhee found his scoring touch, hitting 15 points, including three 3-pointers from behind the arc. It was the second time in the last three games that McGhee found the double-digit scoring mark.
"Vinnie has the most difficult job of all the guys because he is playing both guard positions," said Braswell. "We call him the microwave, because once he heats up, he's on a roll. I'm really pleased with how he has handled himself this season."
Despite CSUN's 1-2 record in the 76 Classic, Braswell enjoyed the opportunity to compete against top quality teams. Five of the eight teams in this year's 76 Classic competed in post-season competition last year.
"This tournament was fantastic," said Braswell. "I think it'll help us throughout the season."
Matador Memo ...
A reporter from the New York Times is working on a profile story on Michael Lizarraga's success as a basketball player despite being deaf ... Lizarraga, who grabbed six rebounds and had two steals against Tulsa, is the only deaf collegiate player competing on the NCAA Division I level ... Lenny Daniel averaged 20.7 points and 10.3 rebounds per game during the 76 Classic ... Daniel hit 23-of-36 shots for .639 and added four blocks during the 76 Classic ... For his efforts, Daniel was named to the 76 Classic All-Tournament team ... Daniels' 49 career blocks moves him into sixth place all-time in the Matador record book ... Other double-digit scorers for Cal State Northridge during the three-game tournament included Rashaun McLemore at 15.0 ppg, and Vinnie McGhee at 11.3 ppg ... CSUN's road journey continues next week at Air Force (Dec. 2) and Denver (Dec. 4).