The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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CSUN men’s basketball hold on for its first win on the road against UC Irvine

Matadors celebrate after Rashaun McLemore hits a 3-pointer to give them a cushion and the win over UC Irvine. Photo Credit: Monique Muñiz/Sports Editor

Irvine, Calif. – With a rallying UC Irvine making a late push, it appeared Cal State Northridge was in store for another collapse, but this time the Matadors caught a break. The bank decided to stay open late on Thursday night for CSUN.

With the Matadors holding on to a slim 60-59 lead with 22 seconds left in regulation, Rashaun McLemore, who sat out the last two games due to a left knee strain, had the ball and an Anteater defender in his face.

As the shot clock time was expiring, McLemore shot a long-range 3-pointer that hit the backboard and went down the net to pave the way for CSUN’s 66-62 victory over UC Irvine at the Bren Event Center in Big West play.

“I called that,” said McLemore referring to his bank 3-pointer, after CSUN cashed in its first road victory of the season and first two-game winning streak. “Dathan Lyles (teammate) told me he was going to get me the ball and once I got it I shot it and it went in.”

CSUN head coach Bobby Braswell joked about McLemore’s wild play, but relieved about finally getting a clutch play.

“We drew it up that way, we told him to bank it in,” said Braswell, who drew laughs from reporters. “In the last two years we’ve lost a lot of (close) games like that. We’ve been beaten by shots at the buzzer and all these other things and it was just our time. We were due.”

Prior to McLemore’s three and UCI on a 4-0 run, Lyles came up with a steal on an inbound pass to ‘Eater Patrick Rembert, which stopped Irvine’s momentum.

UC Irvine (10-11, 3-4 Big West) had one last push after Eric Wise made a 3-pointer to cut CSUN’s (7-13, 4-3 Big West) advantage to 64-62 with four seconds left.

Lyles, who scored 14 points, made two free throws to close out the game.

McLemore had a team-high 15 points and Lenny Daniel recorded his eighth double-double of the year with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Freshmen Matador Aqeel Quinn chipped in 10 points.

Anteater Darren Moore led all scorers with 21 points and Wise had 20 points. Coming into the game, UC Irvine, who had its three-game winning streak snapped, was leading the Big West in scoring offense and 3-point field goal percentage (.373).

CSUN held the Anteaters to 32.3 percent from the field (20-of-62) and 22.6 percent from 3-point range (7-of-31).

The trio of Moore, Wise and Rembert combined for 55 points, but the rest of the ‘Eaters only scored seven points.

One reason for the Matadors recent success on defense is Braswell’s new substitution method he added four games ago.

If the lineup on the court allows five points or an offensive rebound, Braswell will immediately pull all five players and sub in another five.

Quinn said subbing five players has benefited the team. “I like it right now because everybody is playing defense and no one wants to come out.”

CSUN snapped a three-game losing streak to UC Irvine and a five-game losing streak at the Bren Center.

Next up, the Matadors will travel to UC Santa Barbara to take on the defending Big West champion Gauchos on Saturday night. Both the Gauchos and Matadors are tied for second place in the Big West.

“Last year we lost a close game up there (at Santa Barbara) but this year I think we can really take it to them and come out 2-0 on the road trip,” Daniel said.

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