Only a handful of people witnessed CSUN club point guard Nico Vega finish a comeback with six seconds left, but even so it was a memory that will last a lifetime.
Vega dribbled past half court and scored the game-winning three-pointer. CSUN’s club men’s basketball team overcame a 17-point deficit in the second half to defeat Cal San Luis Obispo 47-44 in the Turkey Jam tournament final at the CSUN student recreational center.
“I practice shooting long threes in practice all the time,” Vega said after being mopped by teammates. “It’s just like second nature for me to come up with that shot.”
The final 10 seconds ended by giving the Matadors a favorable twist. Cal SLO called timeout despite not having any left with CSUN trailing by two points. The Matadors were awarded two free throws after a technical foul was issued to the Mustangs.
The stage was set for Vega, who sank both free throws to tie the game but the Matadors still needed to cover the length of the floor with six seconds remaining.
Vega dribbled at a quick pace and then rose from 27 feet with a high-arced attempt that went through the basket.
The Matadors in the first half shot only 33 percent and then did not score in the first eight minutes of the second half. The Mustangs went on a 15-0 run, and Collin Spence scored 9 of his game-high 13 points in that span.
CSUN, after calling timeout, brought in reserves Xavier Lee and Victor Balderas. Lee hit two 3 pointers and Balderas scored 7 points to help the Matadors, who trailed Cal SLO 38-33 with 6:06 remaining in the game.
CSUN continued to battle defensively and put Balderas on Spence. Balderas came up with a steal and layup, and the Matadors trimmed the deficit to 2 with 1:59 remaining.
“We won that game because of our defense,” Vega said. “We did it with our strength, our endurance. The confidence within ourselves and our bench players came up huge for us.”
CSUN men’s club basketball team may not play in the Matadome and sell games out with a Division 1 format. But on Sunday, the game meant everything to them and even though the stage was small, the victory tasted just as sweet.