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 to lead Northridge to a 66-58 victory over Chapman Friday night in a California Collegiate Athletic Assn. game.
Those in the crowd of 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 somewhere with a thermometer stuck in his mouth. Northridge's leading scorer was 0 for 5.
But late in the game, with Chapman challenging, the 6-4 senior from Salt Lake City hit two jumpers within a minute.
Northridge led by as many as 10 in the second half, but Chapman had trimmed the Matadors' lead to 49-43 with 4:30 left when Drecksel found his 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.
"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 said. "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 4 points.
Chapman (2-2, 9-9) was led by by freshman David Roth with 16.
Northridge (3-1, 7-10) got 14 points each from Drecksel, Ray Horwath and Paul Hobus.
In the women's game, Northridge came back from an 18-point second-half deficit to defeat Chapman, 74-68. It was Chapman's first loss in three CCAA games and Northridge's second victory against two losses.
Denise Sitton led Northridge with 22 points.
Chapman Guard Karen Polk led all scorers with 25 points. Valarie Hartsfield, Chapman's leading scorer with a 16.9 average, was held to seven points.