Dec. 29, 2008
By Bob Vazquez, Assistant Athletic Director (Media Relations)
Fullerton, Ca - Rob Haynes doesn`t show much emotion. The senior guard just simply goes about his business and on Monday night in the Big West Conference opener at Cal State Fullerton, Haynes was given perhaps his most difficult assignment in his four-year Matador career.
Haynes was given the task of guarding CSF's Josh Akognon, who had entered the game as the nation's third-leading scorer (25.8 ppg) behind Davidson `s Stephen Curry (30.0 ppg) and Chicago State's David Holston (26.4 ppg).
Haynes simply accepted the assignment, and showed why head coach Bobby Braswell has said many times Haynes is simply the team's best defender.
Haynes simply evaporated Akognon's offensive genius into thin air. Akognon, who had scored 70 points in his last two games (including a career-high 41 points against Cal State Bakersfield) was held to a season-low eight points on 3-of-13 shooting. Haynes forced the future NBA player to only one rebound and into three turnovers in 27 minutes of play.
"Give Rob Haynes a lot of credit," said Braswell. "Rob did a great job of not allowing Josh (Akognon) to catch the basketball. That is one of the best defensive efforts we've had in this gym in many years. We felt we needed to take Josh out of the game and Rob Haynes accepted the assignment and did a really good job."
Deon Tresvant, who led the Matador offensive attack with 20 points, also joined with Braswell in praising Haynes.
"Before the game, I had a long talk with Rob," said Tresvant. "He said he wanted that matchup (Haynes vs Akognon) and the challenge. I thought the team did a great job in helping Rob motivate himself. Rob went out and showed what a great defensive player he is."
Haynes didn't rest his laurels just on his defensive assignment. Haynes played perhaps his best overall game in his four-year Matador career as he tied his career-high with 18 points (6-for-8 from the floor) in 21 minutes of play. Ironically, his initial career-high of 18 points was also against Cal State Fullerton on Jan. 4, 2007.
Cal State Northridge overwhelmed Fullerton's defense with a thunderstorm of three-pointers that flooded Titan Gym. The Matadors hit a season-high 14 three-pointers, the most by a Matador team in eight seasons. Five different Matadors hit at least one three-pointer while Tresvant led the assault with a season-high six in ten attempts. Haynes collected four in six attempts.
The Matadors, from behind the arc, hit a season-best .636 (14-for-22) from three-point land.
"The last three weeks Rob and I have come into the gym late at night to shoot the basketball," said Tresvant, "maybe as many as 500 three-pointers a night. Practice makes perfect."
Overall, the Matadors hit .596 from the floor (34-for-57), .607 (17-for-28) in the first half, and .586 (17-for-29) in the second half. That consistency in shooting proved that from the get-go to the end of the game, the intensity level never wavered.
In addition to Tresvant's game-high 20 points, Willie Galick, who has proven to be one of the league's top players, collected his third double-double of the season. Galick collected career-high in points (17) and rebounds (13). Galick consistently bullied his way near the basket, collecting seven baskets in eight attempts. His 34 minutes as a starter also produced two assists, two steals and one block.
"This was out best game of the season at both ends of the court," Braswell told reporters. "We executed well, played unselfish basketball and hit open shots. But I thought our defense was the main ingredient tonight. I am thankful and blessed that the team had the right attitude. They knew what to do and executed the game plan."
The Matador defense held CSF's top-ranked league offense to more than 13 points under its season average (77.4 ppg) and allowed the Titans to only a .359 shooting percentage (23-for-64). Cal State Northridge also outrebounded the Titans, 41-31.
"It all starts with defense," said Braswell. "We were able to get stops and make our opponents have to make difficult plays. It's a matter of the right mentality and I thought we did that tonight. We played with a lot of confidence tonight."
Braswell also praised the Matador reserves who accounted for 31 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Tresvant led the reserves with a game-high 20 points in 28 minutes. Rodrigue Mels played 20 minutes and collected nine points (4-for-6 from the floor) along with two assists.
"We moved Deon to the point for several minutes and that allowed us to play more of our wing players who are talented," said Braswell. "We took care of the ball, took some good shots and that made us a little bit bigger on the court which makes us a little better defensively." -over-
Cal State Northridge meant business from the opening tipoff. The Matadors jumped to a 10-0 lead in the first 3:42 of the game, thanks in part to two 3-pointers by Haynes.
With a 13-2 CSUN lead (16:01 of the first half), Cal State Fullerton scored ten straight points. That didn't faze the Matadors as the visitors went on a 22-6 run in the next 12 minutes to take a 35-18 lead. Cal State Fullerton could come no closer than eleven points, 35-24 (1:53 in the first half) and the Matadors eventually took a 40-24 halftime lead.
A quick three-pointer by Josh Jenkins gave the Matadors a 43-24 lead (19:34 remaining) and although the Titans cut the lead to nine points (49-40, 15:19 remaining), again CSUN finally said "enough is enough." A 26-10 run in the next 6:30 gave the Matadors a hefty lead, 75-50.
CSUN's biggest lead of the game was 27 points, 90-63, with 1:40 remaining.
"This feels really good to get a road win," said Tresvant, "We've been working really hard to stick together as a team. When you continue to work hard and practice hard, good results are going to happen. This game showed people what we are capable of doing."
Senior point-guard Josh Jenkins who collected eight assists with only one turnover in 22 minutes agreed with Tresvant's assessment.
"Tonight we were focused on getting a road win and posting a stamp on our presence in the conference," proclaimed Jenkins.
Cal State Northridge raised its overall record to 4-7 and 1-0 in the Big West Conference.
Cal State Fullerton fell to 6-7 overall and 0-1 in the conference. It was CSF's first home loss of the year after four victories.
The Matadors now turn their attention to another conference contender, Pacific, on Friday, Jan. 2, at The Matadome. Tipoff is slated for 7:05 p.m.
Matador Minute ...
CSUN's starting five of Willie Galick, Kenny Daniels, Tremaine Townsend, Rob Haynes and Josh Jenkins combined to hit 22-of-31 shots for .710 ... The 14 three-pointers (14-for-22 for .636) is fifth-best for a single game in school history and the most since the Matadors hit 14 against Vanguard on Dec. 27, 2000 ... The 26-point victory (90-64) is the second largest margin of victory at Cal State Fullerton since Titan Gym opened during the 1964-65 season ... On Feb. 23, 1965, the Matadors scored a 31-point decision, 94-63 ... Former CSUN standouts Jonathan Heard and Jayme Miller were in attendance ... Heard and Miller both play professionally in Europe and are back home for a holiday break before their seasons resume in Finland for Heard and in Holland for Miller.