SAN LUIS OBISPO — Mark Otta hit an off-balance three-point field goal with seven seconds left, then made a free throw to finish a four-point play and lift Cal Poly San Luis Obispo to a 68-67 victory Saturday night over Cal State Northridge.
The win gave the Mustangs a share of the California Collegiate Athletic Assn. regular-season championship and knocked Northridge out of next week's conference tournament. The Matadors (8-6 in the CCAA) tied for fourth with Chapman, which defeated Cal Poly Pomona, 83-80, on Saturday.
Chapman advances to the four-team tournament by virtue of a tie-breaking system. The Panthers had a 4-2 record against the three other teams in the tournament. CSUN was 3-3 in those games.
"It hurts, but losing is supposed to hurt," CSUN Coach Pete Cassidy said after being told Chapman had won. "This is a game we should have and could have won."
And would have won, too, if it hadn't been for Otta, the Mustangs' designated hero of the week. On Friday, he hit a last-second shot from just inside the three-point line for the winning points in the Mustangs' 52-51 win over Cal State Los Angeles.
"It was a prayer," Otta said of the shot that sunk CSUN. "I was going up and got bumped off-balance. I just threw it up there."
Jimmy Daniels, who was called for a foul on the play, gave a much different description.
"When he went up, I backed off," Daniels said. "I never touched him. When the ref blew the whistle, I thought he was calling something underneath."
Northridge, picked to finish near the cellar by CCAA coaches, still had a chance to win, but Paul Drecksel missed a driving 7-footer at the buzzer.
"We had a play that worked," Cassidy said. "But the patient died. We got a good shot. It just didn't go in."
It was the fourth straight win for San Luis Obispo (10-4), which has won all four games by two points or less.
Northridge trailed by nine and led by as many as seven in a second half that had more runs than a pair of Phyllis Diller's nylons.
Trailing, 40-31, early in the second half, three three-pointers by Daniels ignited a scoring streak that gave the Matadors a 61-54 lead with six minutes left. The Mustangs came back with a run of their own, however, and tied the score, 61-61, with 2:58 remaining on a tip-in by Kurt Colvin.
But Ray Horwath hit a turn-around jumper from the baseline and Drecksel connected on two free throws to put the Matadors up by four with 1:37 left.
A three-point play by Melvin Parker, who led all scorers with 28 points, pulled San Luis Obispo to within a point, but Pat Bolden converted both ends of a one-and-one with 14 seconds left to make it 67-64.
Bolden led Northridge with 16 points. Todd Bowser and Daniels each had 12 and Horwath had 11.
San Luis Obispo held a 35-31 lead at the half and Northridge was lucky it was that close. The Mustangs shot 54.7% and got an extra hand from Northridge, which gave them the ball 10 times on turnovers. That Matadors also shot only 40%.
But free throw shooting kept CSUN close. The Matadors outscored the Mustangs 11-2 at the line.
Daniels fed Bowser bounce passes for layups on Northridge's first two times down the floor, but the Matadors turned the ball over on four of their next five possessions.
San Luis Obispo had doubled the score on Northridge, 16-8, by the time the Matadors made their next field goal, 7:29 later.
But what the Mustangs took away, they gave right back with a little careless play of their own. Northridge came back to tie it, 22-22, with 6:05 left in the half when Horwath hit Bolden with a full-court pass for a layup. Bolden was fouled on the play and converted a free throw to tie.
CS Northridge 31 36 -- 67
CP San Luis Obispo 35 33 -- 68
CS NORTHRIDGE--Horwath 11, Bolden 16, Bowser 12, Daniels 12, Cooper 0, Drecksel 7, Dueker 6, Carr 3.
CAL POLY SLO--Chambers 14, Colvin 4, Masingale 0, Gray 4, Wintringer 4, Hansen 2, Shelby 3, Otta 8, Parker 28.