CSUN men’s basketball closes out the Mustangs down the stretch

Gilberto Manzano

Kenny Daniels drives to the basket against Cal Poly Wednesday night at the Matadome. Photo Credit: Sarah Smith Staff Reporter.

The Matadors have made it a habit to play in nail-biting games and failing at the end but fortunately for them they were able to pull out the 73-68 victory over Cal Poly Wednesday night at the Matadome.

“It’s good to be on the other end of it,” CSUN head coach Bobby Braswell said. “We have been on the bad end on few of these close losses. It’s good to see the guys respond and step up to win this basketball game.”

The Matadors (10-16, 5-7 Big West) were down 68-67 when Kenny Daniels got the ball and was fouled intentionally by Lorenzo Keeler, who grabbed his jersey with 30 seconds left in regulation. CSUN was awarded the ball and two free throws, which Daniels knocked down to put CSUN up 69-68. On the next possession Daniels was fouled again and knocked down both free throws once again to extend CSUN’s lead to 71-68.

The Mustangs had an opportunity to tie the game but missed two three-pointers as time expired.

“We are not losing another game like this,” Kenny Daniels said about playing in another tight game.

Northridge was up for the most of the game but let the Mustangs tie the game with 2:45 left in regulation.

Cal Poly (9-16, 6-7 Big West) extend its lead when Charles Anderson knocked down a three-pointer to give the Mustangs a 68-66 lead with 1:18 left in regulation.

From then on CSUN closed out the game on a 7-0 run with all points coming from the charity stripe.

Daniels went 10-of-11 from the free throw line and scored 19 points. Lenny Daniel had a team-high 20 points, seven rebounds and three blocks.

Keeler scored a game-high 23 points and Shawn Lewis chipped in 14 points.

The Matadors got their first double-digit lead of the game when Daniel picked up a steal and on the fast break dished it to Daniels for an and one play that gave the Matadors a 40-29 lead with 18:56 left in the game.

The Matadors came out the gates attacking the paint with Daniel posting up inside and Daniels driving to the basket. CSUN’s 17-9 lead at the 14:04 mark forced Cal Poly head coach Joe Callero to call his first timeout.

Keeler, who averages 15.2 points per game, had 13 points in the first period keeping the Mustangs within striking distance of the Matadors. Daniels had eight points in the first half for Northridge but went to the bench after picking up his second foul of the game with 8:17 remaining before the break. The Matadors went into the locker room up 35-29 and shooting 12-of-23 from the field (52.2%).

Next up for the Matadors they host the Drake Bulldogs in ESPN’s BracketBuster on Saturday at 7:05 p.m.