Shocking Lesson

Alonso Tacanga

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Bakersfield, CA– ‘We’re not as good as we think we are.’

‘We’re not as good as we think we are.’

‘We’re not as good as we think we are.’

The voices of Matador starters Tremaine Townsend, Deon Tresvant and Head Coach Bobby Braswell.

What kind of Big West Conference favorite loses to a winless, non-Division I team?

Northridge does.

Following a three-point play by Donavan Bragg that took them from up one to down two in the final seconds, the timeout-less Matadors ran the length of the court, almost turned it over, and somehow handed the ball to a lonely, cutting Townsend. But just as it had gone all night long, Northridge sputtered when it had its best chance. The center missed the bunny, fell to the floor grimacing in frustration, and the Matadors stood around in disbelief at their 67-65 loss to Cal State Bakersfield at Rabobank Arena Friday night.

‘We got what we deserved,’ said Braswell. ‘We didn’t deserve to win that game.’

Braswell, who spent most of the night passing a hand through his face as if wiping away his personal aggravation, was talking about an evaporated 11-point lead. He was defining the meaning of 28 turnovers. He was summing up his belief that there’s an overall team disinterest in earning a name that has already been handed to them since before preseason began: favorites.

‘We just didn’t come ready to play tonight,’ Townsend agreed.

On a night where they faced a team that will likely soon be part of their conference, the Matadors wrapped the game up and thought it was the Roadrunners’ birthday. Ahead 11 with less than five minutes to go in the first half, CSUN began to do what’s been doing best all of his three-game long season: turn it over. 28 times they did.

Those 28 have been the most in a season where they’re already averaging 25 per game. Add that to an inability to play with a consistent effort and you get a 1-2 ‘favorite.’

‘As of right now, we’re not together as a team,’ said Tresvant, who led the Matadors with 15 points. ‘The chemistry is off.’

But still, the Matadors got a chance to win the undeserved and got in front 48-41thanks to an 8-0 run in which Tresvant had six points.

Five CSUN turnovers later, following a Cory Brown free throw, it was the Roadrunners up 59-58. There were only 5:04 remaining.

‘We thought we had the game, that the game was over,’ Braswell said. ‘And we didn’t play well after that. That’s the difference.’

Not playing well and all, CSUN got a huge in-transition three-pointer from Jenkins to take a 65-62 lead into the final two minutes. But Jenkins giveth and Jenkins taketh away. The point guard turned the ball over for an eighth time and Latunde made it 65-64 at the other end. Thirty seconds later, Jenkins had another giveaway. Bakersfield took a timeout, drew its play, got the points and the foul and survived an unguarded Townsend under the basket to get the win.

‘I just missed the layup, that’s all I can say’ a solemn Townsend stated afterwards. ‘I just missed the layup. There’s no excuse for it. I just missed.’

There was no excuse for losing on this night, either, but Braswell can give you a reason.

‘A sign of a good team is having the ability to step up every game and give a consistent effort no matter who you’re playing,’ he said . ‘We’re not there yet.’

Bragg and forward Satwon Latunde led CSUB with 17 points apiece. CSUN shot 35 percent from the field and outrebounded Bakersfield 48-32. The Roadrunners’ bench had 27 points ‘-due largely to Latunde’s 17 – in contrast to the Matadors’ 10. That statistic would have mattered on any night except on this one. The only thing that mattered Friday was a number: 28.

‘You can’t turn the ball over 28 times and think you’re going to beat anybody,’ Braswell said.

Point made.