It was clear that last season’s loss at Cal Poly was still in Raymond Cody’s mind.
Cody was at the free throw line Jan. 23 with a chance to give CSUN a one-point lead, with just 17 seconds left in regulation. However, Cody missed both shots to give the Mustangs a 73-72 victory.
This time around, Cody made sure to knock down the crucial free throws Friday night with the game on the line against Redlands.
With the Matadors down 73-70 with 27 seconds left in regulation, Cody calmly drained three free throws to send the game into overtime. Northridge went on to defeat Redlands, 85-81, in an exhibition game at the Matadome.
“Last year we lost a lot of close games within three points and here we go in another overtime game, and as young as we are, this was a great win for this team,” said senior guard Cody, who had a team-high 17 points. “Last year at Cal Poly I missed two free throws that could have given us the lead, so I wasn’t trying to miss anymore tonight.”
Head coach Bobby Braswell was pleased with Cody’s clutch shots.
“I was happy for Ray (Cody),” Braswell said. “Last year he had an opportunity at Cal Poly to make some free throws and didn’t make them, but for him to step up tonight and make three free throws, which is probably the hardest thing in the world to do, I thought it was big for him.”
After Cody’s free throws, Bulldog Jack Colston missed a shot from the left wing that could have been the game winner.
In the extra period, CSUN fell behind early after Colston, who scored 17 points, made a three-pointer that gave the Bulldogs a 76-73 lead.
The game remained close as CSUN led 82-81 with 45 seconds remaining in overtime, but Redlands’ inability to rebound doomed them. The Matadors came up with two offensive rebounds and Dathan Lyles and Thomas Jacobs made free throws to close out the game.
Even though Northridge received the victory over its Division-III opponent, the Matadors understand they have areas they need to work on.
“We lost a lot of close games last year and we came out and played hard, but we still have a lot of things to work on,” said Rashaun McLemore, who scored 10 points in the first half and finished with 14. “We will come back to practice and build (from the game).”
For 10 Matadors, it was their first time playing at the Matadome. Allen Jiles IV, who is one of eight freshmen on CSUN’s roster, admits he felt anxiety at first.
“I was kind of nervous at the beginning,” said Jiles, who scored eight points. “After my first basket, all the nerves went out the way. It was exciting.”
Even with many new players on the team, Cody doesn’t believe finding chemistry on the court will be a problem.
“I don’t think chemistry is a factor right now,” Cody said. “Guys were here all summer long playing. We kind of got a good feel for each other right now.”
Along with Cody and McLemore, the Matadors had four players in double figures: senior Lyles (12 points) and freshman Josh Greene (11 points).
For the game, CSUN shot 37.5 percent from the field compared to 43.8 percent from Redlands. From three-point range, Northridge was 32 percent and the Bulldogs 29.6 percent.
CSUN lost the rebound battle, 55-42, as forwards Lenny Daniel and Frankie Eteuati sat out to get healthy for this Friday’s season opener at UCLA.