Cal State Northridge came into their home match against UC Santa Barbara with their backs against the wall, as they have lost their last three games, fallen to eight in the Big West standings and most recently losing their leading rebounder, Lenny Daniel, who was suspended indefinitely.
“(The players) took a good beating from the coaches on Friday,” head coach Bobby Braswell said about trying to turn his team around after losing to Long Beach State Thursday night. “We challenged them and we challenged some guys that needed to step up and made some personal moves to make sure our attitudes where they need to be.”
The Matadors responded in a huge way by beating the Gauchos 76-69.
With 3:27 left in the game and the score tied at 60, the Matadors (8-13, 3-5 Big West) once again were looking for someone to make a big play. That’s when Vincent Cordell stepped up to drain a long range three-pointer that ignited an 8-0 run. Northridge didn’t relinquish the lead after that.
“They looked at each other and I looked at them and said, ‘Here we are at a pivotal moment again. We have lost (two) games by a point tonight should be the night to get over the hump,’” Braswell said about what he told his team during the timeout when the game was knotted at 60.
Cordell, who scored eight points against the Gauchos (11-8, 6-3 Big West), was one of the players that Braswell challenged.
“Vincent got an earful from me the other day and I reminded him who he was last year. He stepped up tonight and played like a man,” Braswell said.
Senior forward Willie Galick also called out his teammates, after falling to the 49ers, by saying that he didn’t believe that all the players were putting in 100 percent effort when the game is in crunch time. Against UCSB Galick decided to lead by example, as he got a team-high 19 points and nine rebounds.
“This time we really pushed it forward and had some big plays from some guys down the stretch,” Galick said.
Rashaun McLemore another leader on the team told his teammates that they needed to work hard in practice to turn the season around.
“After the one-point loss (to the 49ers) I told everyone we need go hard in practice and move on,” McLemore, who scored 14 points on UCSB, said.
Braswell’s game plan against the Gauchos was to play zone defense and force them to shoot from outside. The Gauchos went 10-of-34 from three-point range and only scored 10 points inside the paint compared to CSUN’s 28.
The dynamic duo of Orlando Johnson and James Nunnally combined for 41 points but the rest of the Gaucho players only recorded 28.
The Matadors get back on the hardwood against UC Riverside, a team they have beating their last 11 meetings, Thursday night on the road.
Lenny Daniel Suspension: Friday Daniel, who averages 11.2 points and 7.9 rebounds, was suspended indefinitely. According to Braswell Daniel was suspended for poor attitude and conduct detrimental to the team. Daniel was in attendance Saturday night to see his team defeat UCSB and said he wanted to support his teammates any way that he can.
“I’m just tired of losing and all my frustration got the best of me in the Long Beach State game,” Daniel said. “I want to be out in the court so bad but I’m going to support my team and not be a distraction.”
When asked if he knows when Braswell will lift the suspension Daniel simply said, “Coach said when I’m ready.”