CSUN Wins 69-64 Nail Biter Over UC Irvine
Northridge, Calif. - Sometimes there are games during the season where each offensive possession is a struggle to score. Coaches call these games "grinders"; tough games where the opponent concedes nothing and puts forth a gutsy effort.
On Thursday night at The Matadome before a season-high crowd of 1,508, the Matadors picked up their 15th win of the season and extended their unbeaten Big West record to 7-0 with a gut-it-out 69-64 decision over a very determined and tough UC Irvine squad.
"UC Irvine gave us their best shot, and we had to grind this one out to win," said senior all-conference candidate Jonathan Heard who scored eleven points and added eight rebounds.
The Anteaters, 8-12 overall and 3-4 in the Big West, played tough with the first place Matadors in the first half. Cal State Northridge held its largest lead of the first half, 25-19, with 8:24 remaining, but couldn't pull away to a bigger lead. Cal State Northridge held onto a slim 33-31 lead at halftime.
From the 14:54 mark to the 8:38 mark in the second half, Cal State Northridge could not gain a lead bigger than three points. At that point (8:38), the UCI defense had held CSUN's offense in check. CSUN's defense would have to play at its best to help propel the team to victory.
"We needed to get some (defensive) stops in the second half," said Heard. "We had to dig down deep in order to win."
And that is exactly what Northridge did. An 11-2 run in the next three and a half minutes proved be the decisive moments of the game. UC Irvine was able to cut the margin to five points at the end of the game, 69-64.
"Give (UC) Irvine a lot of credit," said head coach Bobby Braswell. "They played with a lot of passion and a lot of heart."
The Matador defense held UC Irvine to .377 shooting, out rebounded the visitors, 36-31, and collected 30 deflections. "I'm proud of the guys for their defensive effort," said Braswell. "We didn't shoot the ball extremely well, but we did what we needed to do to win."
Josh Jenkins led Matador scorers with 15 points and seven assists. Jayme Miller recorded his second straight double-digit scoring effort with eleven points along with a team-high nine rebounds. Tremaine Townsend also added nine rebounds.
The victory sets up Saturday's big game (7:00 p.m., The Matadome) against Cal State Fullerton, a 91-75 winner at Long Beach State. The Titans are breathing down the neck of the Matadors with a 6-2 league record, and 13-6 overall mark. Cal State Fullerton has won the last seven games against Cal State Northridge, including four straight wins at The Matadome.
Matador Minute ...
A block against UC Irvine now gives senior all-conference candidate Calvin Chitwood 27 for the season which moves him into fourth place for a single season with Brian Heinle (1999-00) and Cliff Higgins (1982-83) ... The school record is 32 by Thomas Shewmake (2005-06) ... Seven assists by Josh Jenkins gives him 125 for the season which is eighth-best for a single season at CSUN ... Deon Tresvant's three 3-pointers against the Anteaters gives him 58 for the season, sixth-best in school history.