James Conway wasn't sure why it happened to him.
Pat Vieira said it had never happened to him before.
Coach John Masi of UC Riverside doesn't care if it ever happens again to anybody. He got the victory he said his team needed if it was going to win a California Collegiate Athletic Assn. championship.
Riverside defeated Cal State Northridge, 63-55, Saturday night at the CSUN gym and Vieira and Conway were the unlikely heroes.
For the record, there are four Highlander players averaging double figures in scoring. Vieira and Conway are not among them. But they were a highlight film down the stretch.
Vieira, averaging 6.2 points a game, scored the first 12 points of the second half, single-handedly trimming an eight-point Northridge lead to 39-37.
Perhaps the biggest play he made, however, didn't directly result in points.
With 48 seconds to play and Riverside clinging to a two-point lead, he called a timeout with three seconds on the shot clock. He was standing roughly 25 feet away from the basket with his back turned at the time.
All of which set up Conway, who came in averaging 7.3 points a game.
When Riverside brought in the ball after the timeout it went to him. But it wasn't exactly designed that way.
"I was just out there setting screens," he said. "I was a last resort."
Conway had the ball exactly one second before he was fouled by Todd Bowser. He was jammed up against the baseline with his back to the basket. The shot clock had two seconds remaining.
"I was going for the ball," Bowser said. "I had a good chance at it. It felt like he stopped just to draw the foul."
Conway made both ends of the one-and-one to make the score 57-53. Those were his only two points of the game.
Riverside scored eight of the last 10 points.
The Highlanders (18-5) moved into a tie for second place in the CCAA with a 7-3 record. Cal Poly San Luis Obispo dropped a 76-61 decision to Chapman on Saturday to drop into the tie. Northridge (13-9) fell into a fourth-place tie with Chapman at 5-5.
Four games remain in the CCAA season. The Matadors travel to San Luis Obispo and first-place Cal State Bakersfield next week before finishing with home games against Chapman and Cal State Dominguez Hills.
Three of Riverside's final four games are at home.
Northridge lost only its second game at home in 12 games.
"It's been a long time since we came back from eight points down against a team the quality of Northridge," Masi said. "We have a history of losing close ones here."
Riverside survived Saturday despite shooting only 34.7%. Maurice Pullum--who holds the CCAA record for three-point shots--was only 2 of 7 from long range, but still finished with 15 points.
Vieira scored 11 of his 14 points in that one 3:48 stretch at the start of the first half.
"I've never had a streak like that before," Vieira said. "I've hit a couple of three-pointers in a row before but nothing like that."
He was also matched against Ray Horwath, who was hobbled by an injured ankle that needed acupuncture treatment earlier in the day.
Cal State Northridge 72, UC Riverside 65--The Lady Matadors withstood a second-half Riverside rally in a California Collegiate Athletic Assn. game at CSUN.
CSUN (11-12, 5-4 in the CCAA) led by 14 at the half, but Riverside trimmed the advantage to two, 67-65, with 1:20 remaining. Vicki Mallett, who made two free throws with 25 seconds left, had 13 points and 5 assists.