The Cal State Northridge women's basketball team had just lost its season finale to lowly Cal State Los Angeles.
CSUN Coach Leslie Milke broke up the team's postgame meeting and made a fast break for the door.
It was out of character for Milke, who usually is happy to field questions from reporters after games. Normally, she enjoys talking about this season's team, the best in the 12-year history of the program.
"I took off like a shot out of you-know-where," she said. "That was just the most frustrating game I've ever sat through. I felt helpless. It was not a good feeling and I hope I never have that feeling again."
She could be in for another dose of frustration this weekend in San Luis Obispo, however.
The Lady Matadors, ranked 14th in this week's final NCAA Division II poll, carry a two-game losing streak--the longest this season--into today's game against Chapman in the first round of the California Collegiate Athletic Assn. tournament.
Chapman defeated Northridge, 72-58, Saturday night in Orange.
Northridge, which has won a school-record 18 games, is playing its worst ball of the season. The Lady Matadors were leading Chapman at halftime Saturday, but were outscored, 42-25, in the second half. In the game with Cal State L.A. on Tuesday, Northridge blew a late lead and lost, 73-66. The Golden Eagles' only other victory to that point was over winless Cal State Dominguez Hills.
"Our intensity level has been really low since we clinched second place," Milke said. "It was hard because we had already reached our goal."
Northridge finished in sixth place last season with a 9-15 overall record. Milke's objective for the 1985-86 season was to qualify for the CCAA's inaugural postseason tournament.
The Lady Matadors (18-7) clinched a berth with a win over Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (15-11) last week, but their recent play may have taken some of the luster off this season's success.
"The way they played on Tuesday, it was very embarrassing to them," Milke said. "It woke them up a bit and made them realize that maybe they were too satisfied with what they had done to that point. They're ready to play again--I hope."
Junior forward Denise Sitton believes that the loss to sixth-place Cal State L.A. could act as a motivating factor for Northridge.
"I think it will pull our heads up and spark us for the tournament," she said.
The Lady Matadors' skid allowed San Luis Obispo and Chapman (17-9) to pull into a three-way tie for second place in the final standings. They all finished with 7-5 conference marks. Cal Poly Pomona finished first with a 12-0 record.
Tournament seedings were based on overall record, giving Northridge the No. 2 spot, Chapman No. 3 and San Luis Obispo No. 4.
Sitton, along with sophomore forward Regan O'Hara and senior center Tara Flanagan, will be the key to any success the Lady Matadors may have this weekend. When all three play well, Northridge usually wins. When they don't, well, games become very long for the Lady Matadors.
For the most part, they have played very well. Each is averaging more than 11 points a game and rate among the conference's top 10 in scoring.
Senior guard Renee Loch is averaging 9.2 points and 4 assists a game.
Chapman relies on All-American center Leone Patterson, who leads the CCAA in scoring with a 20-point average. She scored 26 against Northridge on Saturday.
The winner of today's CSUN-Chapman game at noon will probably meet defending national champion Cal Poly Pomona. The Broncos, who have been ranked No. 1 in the nation all season, play Cal Poly San Luis Obispo tonight at 6 p.m. in the other first-round game.
It's not likely that the Mustangs will pull off an upset. They lost to first-place Pomona on Tuesday, 78-58, and their all-time record against the Broncos is 1-23. Pomona is 24-3 and has a 17-game winning streak.
The championship game will be played at 6 p.m. on Saturday.
Northridge lost to the Broncos twice this season, but gave them a scare Feb. 13 in Pomona before losing, 58-51. The Broncos have won 20 straight against the Lady Matadors. Northridge last beat Pomona in 1976.
Pomona is one of five teams in the nation to receive an automatic berth in the regionals, so it is playing for a home-court advantage and a bye in the first round of the three-team West Regional.
The rest of the tournament field is still battling for regional berths. According to most of the conference coaches, the second-place finisher in the tournament will receive a bid, and a third team could also be invited.
UC Davis is the champion of the Northern California Athletic Conference with an overall record of 17-9.
Pairings for the regionals will be announced Sunday.
CS Northridge vs. Chapman, noon
Cal Poly SLO vs. Cal Poly Pomona, 6 p.m.