Center Todd Bowser scored a career-high 29 points as Cal State Northridge rebounded from a 45-point loss last week to Kansas State with a 74-63 nonconference victory over Westmont College on Saturday at the CSUN gym.
Westmont (2-3) led, 56-52, with five minutes left before CSUN went on a 10-2 run to take a 62-58 lead with 2:15 to play. Bowser had four points during the run and Pat Bolden, who finished with 23 points, hit a three-point shot.
"I don't think they wanted to lose again," CSUN Coach Pete Cassidy said.
The Matadors (2-2) iced the game in the final two minutes when Bolden twice passed inside to Bowser, who on both occasions powered his way to the hoop, was fouled and converted three-point plays.
"He is getting better," Cassidy said of Bowser, a sophomore from Montclair Prep. "He's just one step out of the cradle, and we are pushing him along."
Bowser (6-7, 265) does not, however, have an infant's dimensions. "He's a man inside the key. He is just so strong and wide that he seals the defense out," Westmont Coach Chet Kammerer said.
Bowser, who had scored only 19 points in CSUN's first three games, had 11 at the half, but CSUN trailed, 34-30. Bolden added 15 before intermission, making 6 of 7 shots.
"It was time for me to have a game like this," Bowser said. "We were all pretty angry after the Kansas State game. Coach pulled us aside before practice on Thursday and said, 'I'd hate to be the next opponent to play you guys.' "
CSUN was trounced, 91-46, by Kansas State and lost, 78-53, to Wichita State--both Division I teams--during a swing through the Midwest last week.
In the second half Saturday, the Matadors looked inside for Bowser. If he was covered, either Bolden or Chuck McGavran pulled up for a perimeter jumper.
McGavran, a transfer from Orange Coast College, scored all of his points in the second half, six on three-point shots. He is CSUN's leading scorer with a 17-point average.
CSUN, which entered the game shooting 33%, made 26 of 51 shots for a season-high 51%. That figure was helped considerably by the interior play of Bowser, who had good position in the key the whole game and made of 9 of 13 shots while grabbing 8 rebounds. Bowser frustrated Westmont players into committing fouls and made 11 of 14 free throws. The Matadors shot 71% from the free-throw line in their first three games and made 19 of 25 against Westmont.