What a difference a week has made for the Cal State Dominguez Hills basketball team.
All but counted out of the California Collegiate Athletic Assn. race three games ago, the Toros are now firmly entrenched in a battle for one of four post-season playoff berths after a convincing 65-56 win over Cal State Northridge on Saturday night.
The win, the third in a row for the Toros, couldn't have come at a better time or on a better evening. For one thing, the game was played before the largest crowd it has seen all year in the Toro gym (972) and it was homecoming because the school does not field a football team.
But more importantly, the victory pulled the once 0-4 Toros (9-10 overall) into a tie with Northridge at 3-4 in the CCAA race and within earshot of that fourth spot. Only four teams advance to the post season tournament.
"This is as good a roll as we've had all year," said Dominguez Hills Coach Dave Yanai. "We're starting to put it together at a great part of the season."
A week ago, Dominguez Hills beat host Cal Poly Pomona, 68-58, in a game that figured to belong to Pomona, which at the time was tied for a share of the conference lead.
Then last Thursday, the team opened a five-game home stand with a 73-63 victory over Cal State Los Angeles.
Tuesday night, Chapman visits the Toro gym and then Thursday Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, both of which defeated Dominguez Hills in the first round. Wins in those games would give Dominguez Hills an edge on at least one of the playoff berths.
"We're right on time," said Yanai of the team's pace.
Toro center Anthony Blackmon and Northridge forward Pat Bolden shared scoring honors with 17 points each.
"(Dominguez Hills) played well and shot well," said Matador Coach Pete Cassidy. "We made some foolish plays."
Northridge committed nine turnovers to five for the Toros. Dominguez Hills shot 52% from the field. Northridge hit 45%.
Dominguez Hills played a nearly flawless first half. The Toros committed just two turnovers, well below its season average of nearly nine a half. And they held Northridge to just 19 field-goal attempts, while hitting 16 of 30.
Blackmon scored the team's first eight points on 15-foot jumpers, but Northridge matched his effort. The score was tied 11 times before Dominguez Hills took the lead for good. A tip in by Clark with three minutes left put the Toros on top, 26-24.