It took CSUN 20 minutes to realize that it shouldn’t be struggling against a visiting Division III team.
Coming out off halftime tied 31-31 against the Cal Lutheran Kingsmen, the Matadors opened the second period on a 17-4 run en route to a 75-52 victory, snapping a three-game losing streak Tuesday night at the Matadome.
“It doesn’t matter what team we play, if they are from Division III or Division I we have to respect them. We have to compete as if we are playing Virginia Tech or DePaul because if you don’t we are going to have first halves like we did today,” said Lenny Daniel, who exploded for a career-tying 31 points and 13 rebounds.
In the early minutes of the second half, Northridge (3-6) was able to take control of the game with an 11-0 run that gave them a 48-35 advantage.
The Matadors never looked back as they increased their lead to 23 points.
Senior point guard Dathan Lyles said the Matadors halftime conversation about playing with pride, desire and determination benefited them in the second half.
CSUN head coach Bobby Braswell joked during the post-game interview, saying the reason why the Matadors got off to a sluggish start was because the players were thinking too much about school finals.
It wasn’t, however, the first time CSUN played poorly in a half.
“Our team is really young and they’re still trying to figure out some things,” Braswell said. “We took a step back in Colorado with not playing well for the entire game.”
For the game, CSUN shot 45.7 percent from the field (32-of-70) and Cal Lutheran went 33.3 percent, shooting 20-of-60 field goals.
Kingsmen leading scorer Greg Grimm was held to one point in the second half, finishing with 13. Aaron Van Klaveren had a team-high 15 points.
Daniel was the only Matador to score in double figures, as Vinnie McGhee was the second leading scorer with nine points.
Northridge continued its dominance over the Kingsmen as they improved to 21-0 all-time against its foe from Thousand Oaks, California.
The last time Cal Lutheran faced the Matadors, the Kingsmen had a 32-31 halftime lead at the Matadome Nov. 14, 2008, before CSUN pulled away for the win.
This time around, the Matadors’ first half resembled the one they had two years ago.
After the Matadors started the game with a 5-0 advantage, the Kingsmen didn’t let CSUN pull away, tying the score at 7-7 at one point.
Cal Lutheran took a one-point lead after Grimm’s layup made the score 23-22 with 6:15 remaining in the first half.
The Kingsmen increased their advantage to five points, 31-26, but the Matadors closed the half with a 5-0 run. McGhee knocked down a three-pointer and Daniel scored a basket as time expired.
Northridge shot 12-of-29 from the field (41.4 percent) compared to Cal Lutheran’s 13-of-30 (43 percent) for the first half.
CSUN will now have 11 days off before facing its next opponent Cal State Bakersfield at Rabobank Arena Dec. 18.
“We have had only two days of practice in the last week and with this time off this will give us a chance to work on some areas,” Braswell said. “It’s going to be nice during this break and after finals to go into the gym and work on our offense and defense.”
Game Notes: Braswell went with an all freshmen lineup early in the first half: Aqeel Quinn, Josh Greene, Allen Jiles IV, Frankie Eteuati and Jordan Mitchell were all out on the court… In the first half, Daniel scored 13 points for the Matadors and Grimm had 12 for the Kingsmen …Daniel has recorded three double-doubles this season…CSUN’s second-leading scorer, Rashaun McLemore, missed his first game of the season due to a concussion he suffered at Denver on Saturday.