SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — The opportunity was there for Cal State Northridge to climb up the standings. Beat Cal Poly on Wednesday night and move back to second place in the Big West and hold the tie breaker over the Mustangs.
CSUN failed to take advantage of a golden chance as they were crushed by the 10th best scoring defense in the nation, 72-49, at Mott Gym.
“We didn’t take this game serious and we didn’t compete at all tonight,” said Matador forward Lenny Daniel, who scored 18 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. “This game was bigger than the (Long Beach State) game on Saturday. We really missed out on a great opportunity.”
The Matadors (10-16, 7-6 Big West) now fall to a fourth place tie with UC Santa Barbara and got jumped by Pacific, a team the Mustangs held to under 40 points twice.
The Mustangs held (14-11, 9-4 Big West) their sixth opponent under 50 points and gave Northridge its worst scoring total of the season. The previous low was the 50 points scored against UCLA to open the season.
Cal Poly, who now holds a two-game lead over CSUN in the Big West standings, forced the Matadors to 28 percent shooting on (14-of-50), also a season-low.
CSUN head coach Braswell said it wasn’t the stellar Cal Poly defense that doomed them but being outrebound 49-24 (17 offensive rebounds) was the bigger factor.
“They out-hustled us and we boxed out sometimes but they wanted it more,” Braswell said.
CSUN defeated Cal Poly at the Matadome on Jan. 22 and were able to score 80 points, the only team to do that against the Mustangs.
“They are good defensively but we shredded them last time,” Daniel said. “We just didn’t take advantage of the opportunities they gave us to knock down shots.”
Cal Poly extended its winning streak to six
Mustang Shawn Lewis led all scorers with 20 points and David Hanson chipped in 10.
Besides Daniel, freshman guard Josh Greene was the other Matador to score in double-figures with 11.
It was a forgetful first half for the Matadors as they fell behind 24 points. Northridge shot 25 percent from the field (6-of-24), its second worst shooting percentage in a first half this season. CSUN went a cold 23 percent against Virginia Tech on Nov. 25 in the 76 Classic.
“That was probably the worst first half of basketball we have played all year. I think the game was pretty much down at halftime,” Braswell said.
The Mustangs took an early 2-12 lead and didn’t let up as the advantage ballooned to 37-13 after Lewis scored a layup with 2:12 left before the break.
Malik Love hit a 3-pointer to close the first half and give Cal Poly a 42-18 advantage at halftime.
One key for Northridge’s dismal half was allowing seven offensive rebounds and being outrebound 25-12.
The Matadors were also out worked at the charity strip as Cal Poly made 15 free throws compared to CSUN’s six.
CSUN will now head up north to take on Eastern Washington in the ESPN Bracketbuster on Saturday, before returning home for Senior Night against UC Santa Barbara on Feb. 25.
Game Notes: It was so bad for the Matadors that Michael Lizarraga slammed his fist in front of the CSUN broadcasting table during the second half… CSUN started the game 1-of-9 from the floor… UC Santa Barbara defeated UC Riverside and Pacific got the victory over UC Irvine on Wednesday night… With UC Irvine losing CSUN clinches a spot in the Big West Tournament…