Back for the payback

Alonso Tacanga

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CSUN forward Tremaine Townsend walked out from the locker room ready to head into the Matadome for a Wednesday workout when a reporter intercepted him to question the reason for his abstinence from practice a day before.

Townsend’s body language and his backing away from the student journalist was all the answer needed.

‘Sorry. I’m sick,’ Townsend said.

Judging from Townsend’s sleepy look and teammate point guard Josh Jenkins’ sniffles and red eyes, a virus of some sort must be flying around the Northridge home court. That, however, is not expected to slow down the Matadors’ iron man, senior guard Rob Haynes, who will be back after having missed his first game ever on Saturday at Cal Poly.

Haynes had played uninterruptedly in 107 games through four years at CSUN before suffering a concussion last Thursday in a game at UC Santa Barbara. The senior tried to corral a loose ball, but hit his head in the try and remained on the floor for several minutes. He left the game on his own power and wearing a neckbrace.

‘I saw the loose ball and I just dove. After that, I blacked out,’ he said.

The Matadors went on to win the game without their best three-point shooter and opted to rest him two days after at San Luis Obispo as a precaution. CSUN also won that game, its third straight.

Precautions are now a thing of the past.

‘I’m feeling 100 percent. I’m good to go,’ Haynes said.

Haynes is ready for a comeback right on time. The Matadors’ next opponent can’t better CSUN’s position in the Big West Conference standings (since they’re not in their league), but Northridge it’s eager to see them.

‘It’s payback time,’ Haynes said.

Modest Cal State Bakersfield is the squad CSUN’s seeking some revenge from. The Roadrunners had the audacity of handing the Matadors one of the six straight road defeats they had in their early-season six-game road trip. Bakersfield nipped them in the final seconds and survived a late miss from Townsend to upset the then-high-on-No. 1-hype Matadors, 67-65.

‘That would have been a game-changer,’ said Townsend of his point-black, last-second layup miss on Nov 21.

The Roadrunners didn’t do much right after that. They probably still use their win over the Matadors as a pre-game motivator. Bakersfield is 3-13 in their last 16 games.

CSUN has won five of its last seven and is in second place in the Big West, well within striking distance of first-place Long Beach State.

Does the loss to the Roadrunners still burn in the back of their minds?

‘It’s remembered,’ Jenkins said. ‘We want to get our revenge.’

Sick or not, for some, it’s payback time.