The Cal State Northridge Matadors had a one-point lead with 0.4 seconds left in regulation and seemed to be headed to their second consecutive victory at the Matadome on Tuesday night against the University of South Dakota.
Coyote forward Amber Hegge had other plans in mind, as she banked in a layup to win the game in dramatic fashion, 47-46.
Saying the game was lost with 0.4 seconds left on an inbound pass would be a lie. The Matadors lost the game for two reasons.
First, CSUN was not able to convert on free throws. The Matadors were 1-of-11 from the charity stripe.
“The game was thrown away. Missing that many free throws shows a lack of focus,” Matador head coach Staci Schulz said.
The Matadors at one point held a 13-point lead, but because of their lack of focus at the free-throw line, South Dakota was able to chip away at the lead.
However, the horrible display at the free-throw line is only part of the story.
The absence of lone senior forward Katrina Thompson really hurt the Matadors. When the game became tight in the second half, the CSUN women had no one to turn to for leadership.
“Not having Katrina Thompson was a key thing. We were struggling at are four spot,” Schulz said.
However, the coyotes deserve some credit. They outscored the Matadors 26-18 in the second half and made key plays down the stretch to win the game.
Furthermore, Northridge needs to take a page out the Coyotes’ book and know how to close out games.
“We can’t part-time basketball, we have to make it a full-time thing,” Schulz said.
Nevertheless, the Matadors have to put this game behind them, as Big West play is approaching. In order to be successful in conference they have to address the problems in this game, or there will be another disappointing Big West season.
CSUN opens their Big West schedule Saturday at the Matadome against the Tigers of the University of the Pacific.