Men’s Basketball: Physical Irvine team hands Northridge their seventh straight defeat

Gilberto Manzano

Mark Hill (3) plays defense on Eric Wise (34) in Thursday's 65-62 defeat to UC Irvine. Photo Credit: Jonathan Pobre / Contributing Photographer
Mark Hill (3) plays defense on Eric Wise (34) in Thursday's 65-62 defeat to UC Irvine. Photo Credit: Jonathan Pobre / Contributing Photographer

In the final seconds of Thursday’s Big West match between Cal State Northridge and UC Irvine, Matador Willie Galick was complaining to the officials about fouls not being called by pulling on his jersey repeatedly.

Galick seemed to be taking out all his anger and frustration on his white home jersey, as the Matadors fell to the Anteaters 65-62.

Northridge (4-10, 0-3 Big West) has now dropped seven games in a row–the worst losing streak for head coach Bobby Braswell’s 14-year tenure.

“We are playing on our heels, and we are not the aggressors,” Braswell said.

Down 62-63 and with the ball at 16.4 seconds left in the game, the Matadors played it safe instead of attacking the rim. Guard Mark Hill threw the ball inside for forward Lenny Daniel, who missed the go-ahead bucket.

Many Northridge players felt there was a lot of contact on that play.

“Personally I feel it was a foul. We got the shot that we wanted and everything just didn’t happen,” Hill said.

Daniel’s shot wasn’t CSUN’s only opportunity to go up in the final minutes of the game.

Knotted up at 59 with 3:11 on the clock, the Matadors failed to rebound on a UCI (8-7, 2-1)-missed shot, which ended up costing them a three-point basket by Derrick Strings.

After a Kenny Daniels three-pointer cut UCI’s lead to 63-62, Northridge gave up two more offensive rebounds down the stretch.

“We played the last three minutes of the game not to lose instead playing to win,” Braswell said.

One reason why the Matadors didn’t win is that they gave up eight three-pointers and were only able to knock down two from downtown.

“We need time in the gym and shoot in our own time,” Hill said about his team’s struggles from three-point range. “Then we will bounce back … we have pretty good shooters.”

CSUN was able to close down on Irvine’s shooters in the second half by only giving up one from long range, but their big man Eric Wise took over in the end.

Wise, who finished the game with 14 points, had the offense go through him in the second period. Using his 235-pound frame, Wise was able to give the Matadors many fits.

Galick, who had a game-high 15 points, thought that Wise should have gotten more than one personal foul.

“He is a big body, and he gets away with (his physical play) a little bit more than he should,” Galick said.

Many of CSUN’s opponents have been physical with them, and the Matadors have not won a game since beating Idaho on Dec. 3.

Last season the Matadors had a six-game losing streak early in the season but were able to overcome it and win the Big West crown. This losing streak appears to be more of a challenge for Northridge to overcome, but Hill feels that practice is key for them to get out of their slump.

“We’ve been working hard in practice now. We just have to convert it over to the games,” Hill said. “I feel we have the talent, we have the coaches, and we have everything. We just have to put it together real quick.”

Northridge will take a quick break from Big West competition and host Seattle University, Monday night. Rounding out their home stand, the Matadors will look for their Big West win against UC Riverside on Thursday.