DAVIS — For much of his college career, Troy Dueker would have been the last of five available options to take the final shot with the game on the line for Cal State Northridge.
But there wasn't much of a choice Tuesday night at UC Davis' Recreation Hall.
With 24 seconds left, Davis led by a point and the ball was in Dueker's hands with no defender near. So why not bury a 15-footer?
That's exactly what Dueker did, giving the Matadors a 66-65 victory over the Aggies in a nonconference game. And so the trend continues.
Dueker, who shot 38.6% last season, has made 20 of 32 attempts this season. Against Davis, he was 4 of 6 from the field. He is 15 of 20 in his past four games.
"This year," Coach Pete Cassidy said after the game, "he's a shooter."
Dueker said he actually was trying to pass but couldn't pass up the shooting opportunity when it presented itself.
Cassidy had designed a play in which guard Chuck McGavran was to shoot off a double pick.
"They got through the pick," Dueker said, "and the shot wasn't there."
So Dueker did what any good senior point guard would do--he tried to pass. But that wasn't possible, either.
"They were sagging way off," he said. "If there had been a guy close, I probably would have attacked the middle and passed. But there wasn't anyone there."
Dueker's shot was an appropriate topper for a game in which the lead was never greater than four points during the final 10 minutes.
Northridge (5-3) trailed by three, 54-51, with seven minutes remaining after a steal and a layup by Glendell King.
The Matadors battled back on the considerable strength of 6-8, 260-pound center Todd Bowser, who seemed quite comfortable in the bumper car-like scramble that took place inside the key all game.
Bowser scored seven of the last 11 points for the Matadors. His rebound off a missed jump shot by Jemarl Baker gave Northridge a 57-56 lead with 4:49 left.
Bowser scored off another rebound the next time down the floor, then made 1 of 2 free throws on the CSUN's next possession.
Randy DeBortoli scored on a rebound for Davis and, after a CSUN turnover, scored on a layup to tie the score, 60-60, with 2:25 remaining.
After Ray Horwath of Northridge and Pete Buchwald of Davis traded baskets, two free throws by Bowser gave the Matadors a 64-62 lead. Jason Rabedeaux hit a three-point shot with 54 seconds left for a 65-64 Davis lead.
Dueker then hit his biggest shot of the season, giving Northridge a split of its two-game swing through Northern California.
Rabedeaux attempted an off-balance 15-footer with five seconds left, but McGavran had a hand in his face and the shot bounced off the rim.
DeBortoli, a 6-5 forward, scored a game-high 22 points for Davis. He also had 12 rebounds. He was joined in double figures by Rabedeaux, who had 14, and Alec Kay, who had 13.
Bowser and Pat Bolden shared scoring honors for Northridge with 13 points each. Alan Fraser had 11 and Dueker added 10. Bowser had nine rebounds and Fraser eight.
Northridge led by as many as seven points midway through the first half, but the Aggies scored 8 of the last 10 points in the final four minutes to take a 29-27 lead at intermission.
The Matadors, who shot 51% and scored 87 points against Cal State Sacramento on Monday, shot 41% in the first half and committed 11 turnovers.
Davis (5-5) shot 39% but turned the ball over only three times.