Cal State Northridge Earns 17th Victory, 73-61 Over UC Riverside
Northridge, Ca - A 12-point victory may sound like a relatively easy win, but don't tell that to the Cal State Northridge men's basketball team.
Despite leading by as many 21 points, the Matadors had to "grind out" another victory, a 73-61 decision over UC Riverside on Saturday night at The Matadome.
"All these games are going to be a grind at this point," said head coach Bobby Braswell. "We're not going to do what we did in the first round of league play beating people by 20 points. The pace is slowing down and everybody is fighting for a chance to play in the conference tournament."
The victory raised the CSUN overall record to 17-6, but more importantly, maintained its first place hold in the Big West at 9-2.
"17 victories ... I told our team to cherish this achievement," said Braswell. "That's a lot of games won at this point of the season. We're very pleased about that."
Cal State Northridge led from start to finish. The Matadors seemingly had the game won in the first half. A 22-19 lead with 9:51 in the first half, ballooned to a 34-20 lead at halftime.
However, UC Riverside, a team that started the evening in eighth place in the conference, refused to fold. The Highlanders cut the margin to two points, 52-50, with 6:27 to play. The Matadors countered with a punch of their own. The Matadors went on a 19-5 run to drown out any thoughts of a major upset. Josh Jenkins contributed to the offensive assault with three 3-pointers during that Matador offensive rush. Jenkins finished the evening with a career-high 18 points along with seven assists and a career-high six steals.
"This was Josh's best game of the season," said Braswell without hesitation. "He was phenomenal defensively all over the floor. He did everything right (offensively and defensively) for us tonight. Josh is a big reason they (UCR) turned the ball over 26 times tonight."
Senior all-conference candidates Jonathan Heard and Calvin Chitwood each added 12 points. Heard added seven rebounds, four steals and two assists.
The loss dropped UC Riverside's overall record to 5-17 and 2-9 in the Big West.
"Their (UCR) record is very deceiving," said Braswell. "They play extremely hard. They get after you defensively. Once Coach (Jim) Woolridge gets his own players in there, they are going to be a great program."
An historic moment occurred with 17:33 remaining in the game. A short jump shot by Tremaine Townsend was the 100,000th and 100,001th points in the 50-year history of Cal State Northridge basketball. Over that span, the Matadors have played 1,354 games since the start of the program in 1958-59.
"I really didn't know that I set a milestone when I made the shot," admitted Townsend, who finished the night with ten rebounds, eight points and three blocks.
Matador Minute ...
Paul Wayne, who averaged 4.5 points, 2.3 assists and 1.5 steals per game during the 2007-08 season has left the team for the remainder of the year because of personal family reasons ... Wayne appeared in 20 games, including eight as a starter... "Our thoughts and prayers are with both Paul and his family," said Matadors head coach Bobby Braswell ... Twelve points by Jonathan Heard now gives the senior 1,286 career points and moves him nearer to Jim Malkin (1959-62, 1,292 points) who is fourth all-time at CSUN ... Heard now has 970 career field goal attempts and has moved past Andre Chevalier (1990-94, 963) into fifth all-time at CSUN ... Heard's seven rebounds against UC Riverside now gives him 501 for his career, and only nine short of tenth place all-time (Jack Dyck, 1972-75, 510) at CSUN ... Calvin Chitwood had a block against the Highlanders to give him 28 for the season, good for third all-time for a single season at Cal State Northridge, and only four short of the school record held by Thomas Shewmake (2005-06, 32) ... Tremaine Townsend had three blocks and now has 27 for the year, fourth all-time for a single season at CSUN.