On Saturday night, after CSUN point guard Josh Jenkins got a steal, teammate Rob Haynes did something he rarely ever does. As Haynes stood alone behind his spot of preference, the 3-point line, and Jenkins delivered the ball to him, the Matador rose up and drilled the shot.
Three-pointers Haynes makes in bunches. Screaming with emotion after a make, which is what he did in the midst of the Matadors’ 74-55 win over UC Irvine, is not usually under the senior’s gameday to-do list.
‘He’s not that emotional on the court.’ Jenkins said. ‘He’s not that emotional off the court.’ On a night where Haynes was the only Matador with points to his name more than 10 minutes into the game, keeping CSUN (7-10, 4-3 BWC) afloat during an Icebergy start while taking on the challenge of slowing down the Anteaters’ best shooting man (Brett Lauer, 17 points), he could have pumped his chest and done backflips. Not many could have said he didn’t have the right to.
‘Rob started it off for us,’ CSUN forward Willie Galick said. ‘He weathered the storm.’
That storm was an early 11-4 Anteater lead. Haynes did his best to clear it and Galick helped bring daylight. Galick, regularly a starter, came off the bench and rebounded (11 times) from a zero-board performance against Cal State Fullerton on Wednesday that had left Head Coach Bobby Braswell annoyed. Galick also added 19 points while making 11-of-14 free throws.
But even with Galick’s best showing of the season, the Anteaters (6-13, 3-3) didn’t go away. After Lauer completed a three-point play with 6:52 left in the game, UC Irvine was within 50-49.
Then, it was Jenkins’ turn to rise up and drill.
The point guard scored eight points in less than a minute in the middle of a 20-2 run that put CSUN up 70-51 with 2:19 to play. The senior did it with such ease that it was easy to wonder whether all the struggles could have been avoided earlier, with a little more vitamin JJ.
‘I was just waiting to pick my shots,’ said Jenkins, who had 17 points. ‘(The Anteaters) gave me a few feet and I was kind of feeling it.’
The margin of victory was probably nowhere close to what it should have been.’ If’ it hadn’t been for Haynes, it probably wouldn’t even have been a victory.
‘He’s been one of our most consistent guys,’ said Braswell, who was happier about Haynes’ defense on Lauer than about his 12 points.
The beginning of the game wasn’t easy to forget, although fans should try. More than a quarter of the game’s total duration had gone by and CSUN only had four measly points. The Matadors were shooting 20 percent from the field and trailed by seven. All of the home team’s points belonged to Haynes.
Then he had three more and that kick-started an ‘offensive explosion’ that saw the Matadors score 22 points in nine minutes. They headed into halftime leading 29-26. Haynes allowed CSUN to stick around and so did the Anteaters’ inability to take advantage of a slopfest. UC Irvine’s shooting was even more woeful than that of the Matadors. Their late push was only good enough to raise their first-half shooting percentage to 32 percent. CSUN wasn’t much better. They only made 33 percent of their first-half attempts.
‘It was real ugly. We couldn’t score,’ Jenkins said.
Ugly? Not to Braswell.
‘It looked pretty to me,’ said Braswell, a defensive enthusiast. ‘Just what the doctor ordered.’
The second half must have looked prettier to the coach. CSUN only allowed the Anteaters to shoot 28 percent while making half of its shots itself.
CSUN forward Tremaine Townsend scored only four points, but grabbed 15 rebounds.