CSUN men’s basketball: Matadors solid defense is key to their win over Cal State Fullerton
In the past Bobby Braswell’s teams were known for playing top notch defense, but in the last year and a half Cal State Northridge has been struggling to get stops.
After realizing that the Matadors were ranked dead last in point allowed in the Big West Conference, Braswell finally had enough and pounded a defensive first mentality into his players.
“We went over our league statistics yesterday and we showed them that we were last in every defensive category, which for years we have always dominated, and as long as I was coaching here we weren’t going to live like that.
The emphasizes on defense paid off right away as the Matadors held Cal State Fullerton to 36.5 percent from the field en route to a 89-65 victory on Saturday night at the Matadome in Big West play.
“He made us play defense or else you’re sitting,” said Vinnie McGhee, who scored 15 points, about what Braswell told the team. “Nobody was trying to come out the game, so we had to lock up.”
According to Braswell, McGhee had one of his best defensive efforts of his career against the Titans’ sharp-shooter Devon Peltier, who only scored eight points.
“My defense was going to open up my offense, so basically the whole time I was thinking about shutting down Peltier,” McGhee said.
Even though CSUN had a 41-25 halftime lead, the Matadome crowd wasn’t at ease after already seeing the Matadors blow two halftime leads at home this season.
However, CSUN played strong throughout the second half and went up as much as 26 points.
On offense the CSUN guards led the way. The Matadors recorded 27 assists and only committed 12 turnovers.
Freshman point guard Aqeel Quinn stepped up with a career-high 11 points and five assists.
“I was ready when I came in and my teammates like Lenny Daniel and Vinnie McGhee, even though they are older, they have trust in me to tell them what to do and lead them,” Quinn said. “I’m starting to know where they want the ball, where they want their shots from and we are really starting to gel.
Matador Lenny Daniel recorded his ninth double-double of the season with 18 points and 13 rebounds.
CSUN shot 30-of-54 from the field (55.6 percent) and had 45 bench points.
Next up, the Matadors will take a break from non-conference play when they host Seattle University on Wednesday night.