What an appropriate scene.
There Pat Bolden stood at the frustration, er, free-throw line. Above, the scoreboard showed Cal State Northridge leading by two points with 24 seconds to play.
The thought pervading the gym as Bolden toed the line was that a couple of free shots would sew it up. But wait--Chapman Coach Kevin Wilson called a timeout.
Let's let Mr. Bolden think about this one for a while, Wilson implied by the move.
And Bolden had plenty to ponder.
Well, for starters, missing the front end of this one-and-one could mean curtains for the Matadors' hopes of being a force in the California Collegiate Athletic Assn.
And let's not forget that Northridge had missed 7 of its 13 free throws in the first half.
And let's also remember his free throw in the first half that barely drew iron.
Got all of that? OK, now let's see you hit that first one.
Fortunately for Northridge, he did. And he also made the second, helping the Matadors to a 61-55 victory Thursday night at Hutton Sports Center in Orange.
So what was on Bolden's mind through his minute of waiting?
"I knew they were in," he said.
Either Bolden is extremely confident--he was too busy playing to comprehend what had been going on--or he was fibbing.
Most likely a combination.
For a great deal of the game, just about nothing went in for the Matadors. Northridge shot 34.6% in the first half, 43.4% for the game.
It was the best and worst of Northridge in one 40-minute capsule.
A few of the Matador lowlights:
1-for-9 shooting from three-point range--0 for 6 in the first half.
Three three-point attempts that were air balls.
A five-minute scoreless stretch in the first half that saw Chapman increase a two-point lead to 11.
A 4 1/2-minute stretch in the second half in which the Matadors scored one basket and were outscored, 10-2.
For the highlight--and it's a major one--listen to CSUN Coach Pete Cassidy:
"We could have bellied up when they had a 10-point lead," he said, "but we sucked it up and showed the kind of character I knew we had."
The lead he was referring to was actually nine, but why get picky? That was with 7:25 to play and, perhaps more disheartening, it came only three minutes after the Matadors had tied the score with a 9-2 surge.
Chapman had responded to that by hitting outside shots--including one with a twist Elvis would have been proud of--on five consecutive trips down the floor.
The Panthers scored only one more basket the rest of the game.
Bolden, who scored 15 points, hit a three-point shot with 5:18 left to pull the Matadors to within 53-50.
A three-point play by Ray Horwath with 4:19 left then tied it.
After Chapman regained its advantage on a jumper by Bryan Richetto, Bolden tied the score again with a pair of free throws, then put the Matadors up for good, 57-55, with a bank shot off a good pass from Horwath.
Horwath scored 12 points and had 6 rebounds and 3 assists coming off the bench for the first time this season.
He didn't come into the game until 9:39 remained in the first half. Cassidy said he was "just trying to shake things up."
Horwath had no comment.
If you believe Cassidy, his strategy worked. Northridge was down by nine when the senior from Sacramento entered the game, but mounted a mild rally to close the gap.
Northridge improved to 11-7 overall and 3-3 in the CCAA, good for a tie for fourth with Cal Poly Pomona.
Chapman, which was held to a season scoring low, fell to 11-8 overall, 2-4 in the CCAA after coming in as one of the favorites.
The Panthers were led in scoring by Kelly Huston, who had 18.