Dec. 30, 2010
By Bob Vazquez, Assistant Athletic Director (Media Relations)
Northridge, Calif. - When you win a game, life sure gets a little rosier, a smile seemingly lasts forever, well-wishers flock in your direction, and even the biting, cold, windy weather outside The Matadome doesn't seem that bad.
Cal State Northridge adopted the word "team" from the get-go to the final buzzer to dispose of UC Davis, 87-81, in a Big West Conference game Thursday night at The Matadome. The "team" victory left everybody in a post-Christmas holiday mood. The win brings a renewed influx of confidence entering the New Year and a date on Jan. 5 at Long Beach State.
Matador head coach Bobby Braswell glanced at the box score and saw numerous positives from the top of the score sheet to the bottom.
"If you notice, the mood of the team is a bit better," remarked Braswell. "This was a good win for us."
Rashaun McLemore tied his career-high with 24 points and three other Cal State Northridge starters collected double-digits in points. The quartet of McLemore, Lenny Daniel, Vinnie McGhee and Raymond Cody combined for 68 of the team's 87 points.
"The smaller lineup we've employed has helped a lot," said Braswell, who started a three-guard set with Dathan Lyles, Vinnie McGhee and Raymond Cody along with McLemore and Lenny Daniel handling the front line duties. "We're moving a little bit better. People are having a little bit of a problem guarding Rashaun (McLemore) at the power forward position."
"We beat a very good team tonight," said Braswell of UC Davis which had entered the game with a two-game winning streak and a player (Mark Payne) who attracted five NBA scouts to watch him play. "I thought we took care of the ball for the most part. Hopefully this is the beginning of some good things."
McLemore, who had scored a career-high 24 points earlier this year at California, tallied ten baskets in 16 attempts, driving to the basket and then adding a scoring touch from the outside.
McLemore also added seven rebounds and three assists in 27 minutes.
Lenny Daniel is making a double-double (points-rebounds) a normal occurrence. Daniel collected his second straight double-double and fourth in his last five games with 18 points and a game-high ten rebounds.
"Raymond gets very little credit, but he played a solid game tonight. He hit a couple big shots when we really needed them. He also hit some key free throws and defended well. Vinnie also hit some big shots."
The victory raised CSUN's overall record to 4-9 and 1-0 in the Big West Conference. UCD fell to 6-8 overall and 1-1 in league play.
UC Davis enjoyed its biggest lead of the game, 29-24, with 6:04 left in the first half. That lead, however, soon evaporated as Cal State Northridge outscored the visitors, 13-to-6, in the next five minutes to take a 37-36 lead nearing intermission.
The Matadors led the entire second half. A one-point halftime lead, 42-41, leaped to 16 points, 71-55, with 7:52 left on the clock.
One last gasp by UC Davis cut the CSUN lead to as little as five points, 76-71, with 1:38 to play.
It helped that Cal State Northridge hit nine free throws in ten attempts down the stretch, including four by freshman Josh Greene, to help seal the victory for the Matadors.
"Hitting those free throws was huge," said Braswell, who praised Greene for his four free throws down the stretch, and a total of eight points, two assists and two steals in five minutes. "Josh took advantage of his playing opportunity, and that has earned him some more opportunities. In fact, everybody who saw the floor tonight gave us quality minutes."
Both teams shot well. Cal State Northridge hit .534 (31-for-58) compared to UCD's .510 (25-for-49). The Aggies attempted 25 shots from 3-point territory.
Cal State Northridge will take a short break for the New Years holidays before taking the court on January 5 at Long Beach State. The 49ers are hot with two road wins (at UCSB and Cal Poly) to start the conference campaign.
Matador Memo ...
In getting a career-high 24 points against UC Davis, Rashaun McLemore collected a career-high ten baskets ... McLemore's seven rebounds were only one short of his career-high earlier this year at Air Force ... Lenny Daniel's 18 points and a game-high ten rebounds gives him six double-doubles this year (third-best in the Big West Conference), and 14 for his two-year Matador career ... Cal State Northridge outrebounded UC Davis, 32-to-27, the eighth time in 13 games that has happened.