Todd Bowser doesn't harbor any illusions about his role for the Cal State Northridge basketball team. The 6-8, 270-pound sophomore center mixes it up inside with a combination of finesse and power.
"I'm an inside player and everyone we play against knows it," Bowser said. "It's just a matter of who's tougher. Even if we go up against centers that are a little taller, we muscle them. I can muscle, I can bang."
He can also shoot.
Ft. Lewis College learned all about that facet of Bowser's game Tuesday night at Northridge where Bowser scored a career-high 30 points in CSUN's 77-58 nonconference win.
"He's got confidence down low and he stays within his limits," Ft. Lewis Coach Sam Antcliffe said. "He was the most effective post player we've gone against this season. He makes all his layups and his free throws."
Well, almost all. Bowser was 10 of 11 from the field and 10 of 13 from the free-throw line. The Bowz wowed the Raiders with a variety of inside moves and jump hook shots. He also had a game-high 13 rebounds.
"Todd's worked hard and diligently to develop his footwork and inside game," CSUN Coach Pete Cassidy said. "I don't think anybody, including himself, felt he would become as much of an impact player as soon as he has. But, heck, he was an impact player last year."
Against Ft. Lewis, Bowser not only hit a lot of shots--he hit the big ones as well.
Ft. Lewis (3-6) came back from a seven-point deficit to pull within 44-42 on a three-point play by Scott Sanders with 12:48 left. Bowser answered with a basket to put the Matadors ahead by four. With 12 minutes left, Bowser provided the game's key points when he calmly made 3 of 4 free throws that were awarded to the Matadors after two technical fouls were called on the Ft. Lewis bench after a foul against Sanders.
The Matadors (7-3) retained possession after the free throws and Bowser topped his own mini-run with a basket that made the score 51-42 and put the game away.
Bowser wasn't the only CSUN player who performed well. At times, the CSUN fast break was the Matadors' most effective weapon, especially when Pat Bolden filled the lane to score some of his 10 points.
"We've always tried to fast break," Cassidy said. "But this year's group just seems to do it better than those in the past."
If Bowser continues to improve at the current rate, CSUN's future looks bright. The Matadors, who have won three in a row, begin conference play Jan. 15 against Cal State Los Angeles. CSUN plays host to Barry University next Monday.
Northridge led, 33-32, at halftime. The Matadors had jumped out to a 9-2 lead before Ft. Lewis called timeout. Northridge went ahead, 14-5, when Bowser hit a free throw to complete a three-point play, but the Raiders came back to tie the score, 20-20, behind the play of forward Darrin Worthington, who scored 14 of his team-high 17 points in the first half.
Worthington and guard Danny Gallagher led a surge that put the Raiders ahead, 32-29, with a minute left in the half, but Troy Dueker hit a 12-foot jumper and Bowser added a tip-in at the buzzer to give the Matadors the one-point halftime lead.