The Matadors’ final shot of their first regular season game in 2010-11 resulted in a jump shot from freshman Aqeel Quinn that didn’t graze the rim, drawing the Bruin student section to chant “airball, airball.”
Quinn’s airball jumper summed up CSUN’s night against UCLA, losing 83-50 Friday at Pauley Pavilion in the season opener for both teams.
Northridge was mauled from the get-go as the Bruins jumped out to a 15-0 advantage and never looked back.
“We just didn’t come out ready to play,” said senior guard Rashaun McLemore, who had a team-high 10 points. “Next time, we have to come out with more energy and play better defensively. It’s only the first game of the season; we just have to move forward from here.”
On the Matadors first possession it was clear that UCLA wasn’t going to let them get in any kind of rhythm offensively , as they smothered CSUN’s star player Lenny Daniel with a double team by Reeves Nelson and Josh Smith.
“I was double teamed a lot, so I was forced to get rid of the ball quickly. I was rushing to make plays, it was all bad,” said senior forward Daniel, who only scored one point and had five turnovers. “(UCLA) had me and the other guys scouted really well. They knew a lot of our plays and knew what I was capable of doing.”
CSUN went a miserable 18-of-62 form the field (29%) and 2-of-12 from the three-point line (16.7%). Also the Matadors committed 27 turnovers, 17 being UCLA steals, and only had six assists.
Coming into the season, head coach Bobby Braswell stated that if the Matadors were to have a successful season they would need quality play from the point guards, who only averaged 11.3 assists a year ago.
Senior point guard Dathan Lyles said he wants to be held accountable for CSUN’s poor effort on offense.
“I take the whole full blame for it. I am the leader, I am the point guard and I am supposed to lead the team thru the offense,” Lyles, who had two assists and five points, said. “We are going to get better and I’m going to practice and work hard.”
Braswell was satisfied with the play of the eight freshmen competing in their first Division I game, but was upset with the returnees.
“I thought the young guys did some good things for us on the court. I’m really disappointed in our veteran play,” said Braswell, who fell to 7-8 in season openers.
CSUN’s biggest deficit in the game was 42 points and for most of the second half Braswell played the first-year players instead of the veterans. Braswell said it wasn’t a sign of throwing in the towel.
“I’m going to play guys who give us energy and (the freshmen) did it. It wasn’t me trying to make a point,” Braswell said. “I’m going to reward guys that play hard. The guys know I have an effort system. I thought our freshmen played hard.”
The Matadors didn’t record their first point until the 15:33 mark when Daniel scored his lone point off a free throw.
With 14:14 left in the first half Michael Lizarraga, who chipped in eight points, gave the Matadors their first bucket of the game on a goaltending violation by Bruin Tyler Honeycutt.
The ugliest it got for the Matadors in the first half was a 28-point deficit after Smith’s free throws gave UCLA a 37-9 advantage with 6:21 left before the break.
Later the Bruins went on a 13-0 run that was snapped by freshman Josh Greene’s three-pointer with 6:13 left in the first period. Greene’s bucket was assisted by Vinnie McGhee, which was CSUN’s first assist of the game.
UCLA was led by Nelson with 17 points and Honeycutt with 16 points. Junior transfer Lazeric Jones chipped in 15 points in his Division-I debut.
Bruin head coach Ben Howland was content with Jones ability to run the offense.
“I thought Zeke (Lazeric Jones) played his best game for us tonight, not only as a floor general, but also shooting the ball,” said Howland, who improved his record against CSUN to 8-2.
Northridge was able to force UCLA into 22 turnovers giving them something positive heading into its second game of the season as they face another Pac-10 opponent on Tuesday night at UC Berkeley.