CSUN Men’s Basketball: Matadors come out victorious against Gauchos in last home game, 68-60

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CSUN Men’s Basketball: Matadors come out victorious against Gauchos in last home game, 68-60

Gilberto Manzano

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Video by Monique Muñiz / Sports Editor

It was the perfect Senior Night as all five Matador seniors were able to come out in the final seconds of Thursday night’s matchup and get a standing ovation from the ruckus sold out crowd at the Matadome.

Senior Dathan Lyles knocked down five free throws in the last minute of play to ice CSUN’s 68-60 victory over the defending Big West champions, UC Santa Barbara, and giving them sole possession of fourth place in the conference standings.

“We remember what happen last year on senior night, so we (this year’s seniors) told ourselves we are not going to go out like that,” said senior forward Lenny Daniel, referring to last season’s Senior Night where the Matadors were crushed by Pacific. “These guys did a good job sticking together and we came out with the win.”

It came down to the wire with Northridge (12-16, 8-6 Big West) holding on to a slim 62-60 lead, before pulling away with a 6-0 run to end the game.

Jamie Serna’s basket put UCSB (14-12, 7-7 Big West) within two with 1:35 left in regulation, but on the next play freshman Matador Josh Greene turned over the ball on an inbounds pass.

However, Greene quickly redeemed himself after stealing the ball, which led to Lyles hitting one of two free throws.

The Gauchos still had an opportunity to tie the game, but senior Raymond Cody stole the ball on a pass that went over Troy Leaf’s hands with 35 seconds left.

“It came down to everything. Making stops, rebounds, putting free throws in, playing together and knowing who to give the ball to in certain times. It came down to a whole team effort,” Lyles said.

LAST STAND IS PERFECTION: Seniors celebrate their last game at the Matadome with teammates. CSUN now is in fourth place in the Big West after its win over UC Santa Barbara 68-60. Photo Credit: Tessie Navarro / Staff Photographer

CSUN, which recorded its 700th victory in school history, overcame a nine-point second half deficit as the Matadors clamped down on defense and forced UC Santa Barbara to shoot 27.3 percent from the field in the final 20 minutes.

Daniel had a stellar game with 23 points and five rebounds. Also, Daniel, who went 11-of-16 from the charity stripe, broke CSUN’s single-season record for most free throw attempts. Ollie Carter was the previous record holder as he attempted 227 free throws during the 1964-65 campaign.

Daniel now has 233 attempts and is inching closer to the Matadors all-time blocking record. Daniel recorded one block against the Gauchos to give him 76 in his career and moving into a second place tie.

“I’m happy with (the record) but I’m not happy if I’m shooting 50 percent from the line,” Daniel said. “Ray (Cody) got to the line eight times attacking. Dathan knocked down some big free throws and when we all get to the line we are a tough team to beat. We have too many weapons.”

The Matadors made 28 free throws compared to the Gauchos 11.

CSUN went on a 9-0 run to erase UCSB’s second half lead. Daniel knotted the game at 44-all after he made the free throw that tied the record.

Matador Vinnie McGhee’s 3-pointer with 9:34 left gave CSUN’s its first lead, 49-47, since the final minutes of the first half.

CSUN built a six-point advantage late in the second half after freshman Aqeel Quinn and senior Rashaun McLemore drained back-to-back 3s to put the Matadors ahead 62-56 with 2:59 left.

In the first half, UCSB built a 37-28 lead at halftime due to making 8 of 16 3-pointers. Leaf, who only made three 3s entering the game, hit three consecutive 3-pointers late in the first period.

Cody said the importance of the game against the Gauchos was a big factor in why the Matadors pulled out the win.

“We have a lot to play for right now and our minds are focused. It was a little bit different last year, so it felt good to come out and get this win,” Cody said.

With only two games left this season, the Matadors now have a one game lead and the tie breaker over UCSB. CSUN only trails Cal Poly by one game for second place and are half a game behind Pacific for third place.

Long Beach State clinched the one seed in the conference tournament and the Big West regular season title.

The Matadors now travel to UC Davis on Thursday and end the season at Pacific on Saturday.


Video by Monique Muñiz/ Sports Editor