Last season in Stockton, in a game that still lives in the memories of former and current Matadors, Pacific’s Michael Kirby made the impossible possible, the undeserved a reality: With 1.5 seconds to play and his team down two, he turned a length-of-the-court heave into a game-tying, buzzer-beating, overtime-sending jumper. In the extra period, Kirby’s Tigers ran away with a win that still feels like a kick to the stomach to CSUN.
Eleven months later, Kirby was back at it, but this time in Northridge and helping set straight a result that shouldn’t have been in doubt for as long as it was. The guard’s cold-blooded three-pointer with 33 seconds to play in overtime gave Pacific a six-point lead and all but sealed the Matadors’(4-8, 1-1 BWC) first home loss of the season, 84-78.
“We were fortunate to even get to an overtime period,” CSUN Head Coach Bobby Braswell said.
Luck on this night meant Deon Tresvant, the Matadors’ star reserve. Trailing 68-65 with 39 seconds to go and following countless attempts at catching up to the Tigers, Tresvant went up for a three-pointer. His shot seemed short, and it was. The trey hit the front of the rim. However, the bounce was soft and went to the backboard and then into the net, giving CSUN its first non-deficit since it was 55-55 at the 9:38 mark
Pacific had a chance to win the game after, but Bryan LeDuc’s layup with just seconds left missed, sending the game into overtime.
“My shot,” Tresvant said. “I thought it was going to be a momentum-changer.”
But the start of the extra period was just the continuance of the night’s trend. Pacific regained the lead immediately and didn’t let go. They made five of six shots in the period and, following Kirby’s dagger, took home yet another story of how the Tigers love to torch the Matadors, at home or away.
It was CSUN who held the lead throughout the first half even though they were allowing the Tigers to shoot nearly 60 percent from the field. Things didn’t change in the second half and all of a sudden it was Pacific up instead of Northridge. After James Doran made a layup with 16:57 left to play, the Tigers never trailed again.
Pacific shot 52 percent for the game.
“I was very disappointed with our defensive effort tonight,” Braswell said.
“We didn’t get one stop in overtime.”
The Tigers not only came in the mood to spoil the Matadors’ Big West Conference home opener, they also arrived wanting to surprise Braswell and Co. A team that coming into the game averaged only 64.6 points per game, Pacific hit the 80-point mark for the first time this season. Not only that, but they attempted (and made) the most three-pointers they have in 2008-09 (10-of-28).
Kirby made three of those and scored 14 points. Anthony Brown had 17 points. Doran and LeDuc each chipped in 10.
“They shot the crap out of it,” Braswell said.
For CSUN, Tresvant ended up with 21 points, followed by Tremaine Townsend, who woke up after halftime to score 13 of his 16 points. Rodrigue Mels had 13, but was held scoreless after the first 20 minutes.
Josh Jenkins had eight points, 10 assists and just one turnover. Usually those numbers are good enough for a home win. Not tonight. Jenkins was just 2-of-12 from the field. The point guard couldn’t get anything to go in the basket and at times even that wasn’t enough to satisfy Lady Luck. With 2:19 to play in overtime, LeDuc missed the only miss of Pacific in the period. In his effort to grab the defensive rebound, Jenkins – cursed as he seemed to be on this night – actually ended up knocking the ball out of a teammate’s hands out of bounds to give the Tigers an extra possession.
That possession turned into three Pacific points.
“I couldn’t do anything,” Jenkins said. “My shot wasn’t falling. It was frustrating that I couldn’t help my teammates.”
Jenkins was also the one defending Kirby when the guard drilled the shot that put the game away.
“I was kind of tired,” Jenkins said. “I tried to stick Kirby, but he gave me a crossover and pulled up. It was a tough shot, but he made it.”
“He hit a great shot,” Tresvant concurred.
Braswell, who’s been critical of the point guard’s play at times, did not put the blame on Jenkins (even though the senior did). The coach said that an early injury to starter Kenny Daniels forced him to play Jenkins more minutes than he’s used to – 41 minutes – hence tiring him and affecting his offensive performance.
The Matadors shot 46 percent for the game.
“There goes the home record,” Braswell finished.