CSUN men’s basketball: Down the stretch blunders continue for Matadors

Gilberto Manzano

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Willie Galick (14), seen here against UCSB on Wednesday, scored 18 points in a loss to UC Irvine Saturday night. Photo Credit: Jonathan Pobre / Contributing Photographer

IRVINE, Calif. — In another chapter of the nightmare season its been for CSUN head coach Bobby Braswell, UC Irvine defeated his Matadors, 79-74, at the Bren Events Center on Saturday night.

“The horror continues for us,” Braswell said after the Anteaters gave him his single-season record 19th loss. “We knew it was going to be a close game. Just another game that you have to make plays, and we didn’t make plays.”

After UC Irvine guard Michael Hunter, who scored a game-high 22 points, made a free throw to give the Anteaters (13-16, 5-9 Big West Conference) a 75-74 lead with 23 seconds left in regulation, Braswell called a timeout to draw a play for someone he hoped could step up.

Senior Kenny Daniels was chosen to come up with the clutch play, instead, the guard committed his seventh turnover of the game, forcing the Matadors (10-19, 5-9 Big West) to foul Hunter. He made both free throws.

On CSUN’s next possession, guard Mark Hill missed the potential tying 3-pointer with a second left in the game.

Two more Anteater free throws rounded up the scoring as the buzzer sounded. Fans rushed the court as if their team had just made the NCAA Tournament, the competition CSUN is hoping to attend for two consecutive seasons.

The goal is looking grim.

“We lack leadership … right now we are leader-less on the court,” Braswell said. “Leaders are the guys we had last year, like (guard) Rob Haynes and (forward) Tremaine Townsend, that didn’t let you lose close games.”

Not having leadership could be the reason Braswell, who is in his 14th season at Northridge, is going through his worst season with the Matadors. The back-to-back 17-loss seasons from 2005-07 were Braswell’s previous worst.

Willie Galick, who scored 18 points for the Matadors, has his own idea as to why there’s been so much misfortune for CSUN this year.

“Either guys want to listen and follow, or they just want to do their own things,” Galick said. “The chemistry hasn’t been there from the start and it’s obvious.”

Lenny Daniel, who scored 16 points and grabbed nine rebounds, tried to make big plays down the stretch but committed a lot of careless plays.

“I kind of let the team down turning the ball over,” Daniel said. “We just didn’t execute as a team…Same old same old result another loss.”

Before Eric Wise fouled out with 1:42 left in regulation he contributed a double-double with 21 points and 13 rebounds for the Anteaters. Darren Moore chipped in 17 points and recorded four rebounds.

The Matadors were able to outrebound the Anteaters 41-29 and also outscored them in the paint 38-24.

Losing to the Anteaters for the second time this season puts CSUN down to eight in the conference standings and gives them half a game lead on UC Riverside for the final spot in the Big West Tournament.

The last two games of the regular season for the Matadors will be at home against UC Davis on Thursday and Pacific on Saturday. CSUN has already lost to both teams on the road.
“(It’s) life or death…this is our season. I’m trying to leave my stamp on this team,” Galick said about their final two games and finishing his senior year on a high note.