49ers hand the Matadors a crushing one-point loss

Gilberto Manzano

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Vinnie McGhee (11) scored a team-high 17 points in a losing effort against the 49ers, Thursday night. Photo Credit: Sarah Smith staff photographer.

In the final 42 seconds of Thursday night’s game between Cal State Northridge and Long Beach State, spectators at the Matadome witnessed two teams in desperate need of a Big West Conference win.

Unfortunately for the Matadors, there was a ghost-sighting which probably caused them to miss their last two shots as time expired.

The ghost’s name: Casper Ware.

Ware was a not-so-friendly 49er as his running layup with 11 seconds left proved to be the winner during Long Beach State’s 69-68 win.

It was the second consecutive time in which Northridge was on the short end of a close game. Both were one-point losses.

More alarming for the Matadors: some players are beginning to question whether their teammates can handle pressure-packed, late-game situations.

“Some guys don’t care and some guys aren’t putting in 100 percent effort,” CSUN senior forward Willie Galick said. “We are starting to weed out the men from the boys right now … being 2-5 (in Big West play), you start to see people’s true character.”

After a Long Beach State timeout and with the Matadors up 66-65, Ware took the inbounds pass and made a layup under the basket to put his team ahead with 39 seconds remaining in regulation.

On the next play, Matador Mark Hill made a long two-pointer. Hill actually thought the shot was worth an extra point.

The Matadors probably didn’t need the extra point to win, if only they were able to box out and not give up 21 offensive rebounds.

“It almost looked like Long Beach was throwing the ball up and knew they were going to get the offensive rebound,”  head coach Bobby Braswell said.

At the 10:48 mark in the second period the 49ers were up 51-49 but then Vinnie McGhee, who had a team-high 17 points, scored the next eight points in the game to put CSUN ahead 57-51.

From then on a more determined 49er team took over in the final minutes of the game.

“We didn’t make the tough plays,” Braswell said “Players play (but) tough players win and they were tougher than we were tonight.”

With the loss the Matadors fall to eight place in the Big West standings and have dropped three homes games this year, that’s one more than all of last season.

It doesn’t get any easier for CSUN as the second place team in the conference, UC Santa Barbara comes to the Matadome Saturday night.