Lenny Daniel’s game-high 24 points wasn’t enough for Cal State Northridge as they lost 80-63 to Tulsa Sunday afternoon and giving the Matadors a 1-2 record in the 76 Classic at the Anaheim Convention Center.
In a game the Golden Hurricane (4-2) led from start to finish, The Matadors (2-4) stayed close with an 8-point deficit, 45-37, with 14:57 left in the second half but Tulsa was able to increase its lead to 20, the biggest of the game.
“We battled back in the second half with three straight stops, but turned the ball over on two of those stops,” CSUN head coach Bobby Braswell said.
The Matadors finished the tournament in sixth place and Braswell said it was an experience to build on for Big West play.
“No one plays like this team (Tulsa) in our conference and I think it really will help us throughout the season,” Braswell said.
Daniel put his name on the map as the teams in the 76 Classic were impressed with his play.
“I think our defense was pretty alert, that kid (Lenny) Daniel was pretty tough on us,” said Tulsa head coach Doug Wojcik about Daniel, who averaged 20.2 points and 10.1 rebound in the tournament. “We know about Daniel because he was close to us when he played at Coffeyville (Community College). He is probably the best player in the Big West.”
Tulsa also had players that stepped up as freshman Jordan Clarkson contributed 19 points and senior Justin Hurtt scored 20 points.
For the game CSUN went 22-of-50 (44%) from the field compared to the Golden Hurricane shooting 27-of-54 (50%)
In the first half Braswell was angrier than usual throughout the period as the Matadors trailed by as much as 12 points.
On every Matador miscue Braswell’s reaction was either yelling at the players or throwing his arms up in disgust.
One reason for Braswell’s anger was the Matadors inability to rebound in the first half. CSUN was out rebound 17-9.
Tulsa scored 18 points in the paint compared to CSUN’s 4.
However, with the disappointing loss Braswell saw many positives.
“I told the guys after the game that if our focus was good and we did the right things but came out short, I would be ok,” Braswell said.
Vinnie McGhee kept the Matadors close against Tulsa with 13 points in the first period. CSUN went into the locker room down 41-30.
Northridge will return to the hardwood with two games in Colorado, starting on Thursday versus Air Force and against Denver on Saturday.