Deon Tresvant Scores 31 points In Come-From-Behind 88-84 Victory at UC Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara, Ca - The never-say-die Cal State Northridge men's basketball team rallied back from a 13-point second half deficit to earn a dramatic and memorable 88-84 victory over Big West favorite UC Santa Barbara on Saturday night at the Thunderdome.
Previous to Saturday night's game, the Matadors had won only one game on UCSB's home court, The Thunderdome, but CSUN certainly again defined itself as a team that plays with determination, heart, and a collective purpose.
The victory gave the Matadors a two-game road sweep (80-59 at Cal Poly, 88-84 at UCSB) to start the conference season. That hasn't happened since the 2000-01 season, ironically the very season that lifted the Matadors into the NCAA Tournament.
"This was a big victory for us," said Braswell. "This was big for our program. This was a tough place (UCSB) to play, but I'm proud of the team. We played with a lot of heart. We played with a lot of tenacity and we didn't quit against a very talented UCSB team.
"I told the guys today this game could be the icing on the cake, to beat UCSB after beating Cal Poly (1/3/08), the two teams picked to finish 1-2 in the conference."
Aided by a tremendous effort by Deon Tresvant, who came off the bench to score a career-high 31 points (23 points in the second half), the Matadors, picked to finish sixth in the Big West coaches and media pre-season poll, served notice the Matadors will be a force to be reckon with as the season progresses. Cal State Northridge sits alone atop the league standings with a 2-0 record, and a 10-3 mark overall.
The Gauchos, which had entered the game with the league's best record at 12-2, took what seemed to be a commanding 54-41 lead with 16:52 to play. UCSB maintained its double-digit lead, 66-54, with 11:35 to play. But the Matadors refused to fold. A three-pointer by Rob Haynes, and four straight points by Tresvant (two free throws, a basket) cut the UCSB lead to 66-61 with 9:54 left. A UCSB basket made it 68-65, but back came the Matadors as Tresvant scored on a layup, and added a three-pointer to put CSUN to within two points, 70-68, with 7:55 to play.
The Matador momentum continued to build as the visitors took their first lead of the second half, 75-74, with 6:26 on a layup by Jonathan Heard which was created by a Tresvant steal.
The Matador lead grew to as many as five points, 82-77 with 3:28 thanks to a basket by Tremaine Townsend and another three-pointer by Tresvant.
UCSB then scored four straight points, but the Matadors wouldn't allow the Gauchos to take the lead. Two free throws by Josh Jenkins and a tipin basket by Jayme Miller pushed the lead back to five points, 86-81, with 1:12 to play. The Gauchos could get no closer than three points as time ran out.
The Matador defense clamped down on UCSB's shooters in the second half. The Gauchos hit .625 in the first half, but only .424 in the second half. In the meantime, the Matador offense got in high gear. After shooting only .353 in the first 20 minutes, the second 20 minutes was a different story as the Matadors shot a blistering .680.
"I told the guys that I don't worry about the offense," said Braswell. "It's about what we do defensively. After UCSB went 7-for-8 to start the second half, we turned it on (defensively). We decided to stick to our man-to-man defense, and to get stops. The team stepped up and did it."
Tresvant simply was magnificent. Coming off the bench to play 32 minutes, the junior guard hit 10-of-17 shots from the floor, including 7-of-11 from three-point territory. Tresvant added a career-high seven rebounds, a career-high four steals, two assists and hit 4-of-5 free throws.
Tresvant's 31 points is still far short of his single-best game effort. As a sophomore last year at Long Beach City College, Tresvant scored what is believed to be a California state record with 63 points. However, scoring 31 points at the NCAA Division I level is quite an accomplishment.
"My teammates did a great job of finding me," said Tresvant. "All the credit goes to my team. Coach Braswell challenged the team to go out and play Northridge basketball. And the team did just that, play Northridge basketball."
Paul Wayne scored 12 points (6-for-8 from the free throw line) along with two steals in 17 minutes of reserve play. Jonathan Heard chipped in with 12 points while Jenkins added ten points and a game-high nine assists.
Once again, depth proved to be one of the deciding factors in the game. Braswell used eleven players, and nine played at least 13 minutes. The Matador bench scored 51 points, grabbed 17 rebounds, and collected six steals.
"We have three or four reserves who could probably start, but that is not a problem," said Braswell. "Certainly, Deon Tresvant could start for a lot of teams in the conference, but we like him coming off the bench to give us an offensive spark. Good things are happening."
After playing six of its last nine games away from home, the Matadors return home on Jan. 10 to host UC Davis (7:05 p.m.), and then Jan. 12 against Pacific (7:05 p.m.).
"This victory (against UCSB) really boosts our confidence," said Tresvant. "We told ourselves in the locker room to take care of business, fight hard and play Northridge basketball. Also to grow together as team ... be strong."
Matador Minute ...
The 31 points by Deon Tresvant is the most scored by a Matador player since Jan. 7, 2006 when Mike Efevberha scored 39 points vs Cal State Fullerton ... Cal State Northridge is now 5-2 on the road this year ... Last year, the Matadors didn't win their first road game until the start of the Big West season in January (1/6/06) ... With seven free throw attempts against the Gauchos, senior all-conference candidate Jonathan Heard now has 439 career attempts to move past Jerry Joseph (1967-70, 436) into seventh place on the all-time list at CSUN.