On a cold night in the Cal State Northridge gym leave it to the guy playing with strep throat to make the key plays.
Paul Drecksel, who didn't practice all week and had a temperature of 104 on Thursday, hit two key jump shots and four free throws in the last five minutes of the game to lead Northridge to a 66-58 victory over Chapman on Friday night in a California Collegiate Athletic Assn. game.
Those in the crowd of about 700 who came prepared kept bundled in warm jackets and sweaters, the result of the heat being turned off at the school for repair work.
For a half, Drecksel looked like he belonged wrapped up somewhere with a thermometer stuck in his mouth. Northridge's leading scorer was 0 for 5 shooting.
But late in the game, with Chapman challenging, the 6-4 senior from Salt Lake City hit two jumpers within a minute that finally broke the Panthers.
Northridge led by as many as 10 in the second half, but Chapman had trimmed the Matadors' advantage to 49-43 with 4:30 left when Drecksel found his shooting touch.
First, he hit an off-balance three-point shot with two seconds left on the 45 second clock. Then, the next time down the floor, he made a 15-footer as the shot clock ran out.
Both shots, Drecksel said, were taken out of desperation rather than preparation.
"They weren't planned," he said. "I took both shots because of the shot clock. I was ready to quit shooting at that point because of my arms."
Drecksel hadn't practiced with the team all week. "This is the first day I've been out of bed since last Saturday," he said. "My whole body feels so light that I wasn't feeling the ball right for a while. I didn't think anything was going to fall."
Chapman Coach Kevin Wilson can probably relate to the feeling. He watched his team shoot 33% in the first half, 42.9% for the game.
"We didn't play with any zest or intensity in the first half, we didn't shoot well all night, and we couldn't get a foul shot," Wilson lamented. "I was surprised we were still in it."
Jon Samuelson, the Panthers' leading scorer with an average of 15.6, was 2 of 11 shooting and finished with four points.
Chapman, which fell to 2-2 in the CCAA, 9-9 overall, was led by in scoring by freshman David Roth with 16.
Northridge, which improved to 3-1 and 7-10, got 14 points each from Drecksel, Ray Horwath and Paul Hobus.
The victory kept Northridge in second place, one game behind conference-leading UC Riverside.
The Matadors play at Cal State Dominguez Hills tonight. Dominguez lost to Cal State Los Angeles on Friday, 83-82, in triple overtime.
Chapman fell into a three-way tie for third.