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CSUN Played Half Bad, Half Good : College basketball: They had their moments, but Coach Cassidy felt Matadors played poorly in 83-60 loss to UCLA.


Technical question: If a team rallies from a 6-5 deficit to win, 83-60, does that qualify as a come-from-behind victory?

And, if so, can Cal State Northridge justifiably claim that it blew a lead before falling to UCLA Saturday before 9,102 at Pauley Pavilion?

The Bruins, ranked from first to sixth in the nation's most-often quoted preseason polls, accomplished the expected against an outmanned but game troupe from the lower echelon of Division I.

They ran around, jumped over and powered through Northridge by a 23-point margin.

But how 'bout those Matadors?

Lost the first half by 17, lost the second by only six.

Marked improvement in a span of only 20 minutes.

What more could a coach ask for?

Apparently, plenty.

Asked to summarize how his team had performed, Northridge Coach Pete Cassidy testily offered a one-word reply: "Poorly."

So much for silver linings.

Cassidy was right, of course. Almost as correct as he was blunt.

Northridge was outshot, 47.5% to 37.5%, and outrebounded, 44-28, and still found opportunities to commit 22 turnovers.

"We didn't run any offense I saw," Cassidy said. "That's depressing to me."

Credit UCLA for causing most of Northridge's woes. Compared to the Matadors, the Bruins collectively are taller, stronger, faster, etc., etc., etc.

"We played hard," Cassidy allowed.

"I just don't think we have the great ball-handling skills to handle the pressure a team like UCLA can throw at you.

"I can't fault our guys. They're just not as quick or as talented as the UCLA guys. We live with reality."

Unfortunately for Northridge, reality also includes upcoming games against Bruin-like opponents such as Alabama-Birmingham, Cincinnati, New Mexico, California and Washington State.

UCLA was just bully du jour.

"We play an upgraded schedule," Cassidy said. "We play people more physically talented than us. . . . They're on the schedule. We have to compete with them."

At times, Northridge did exactly that against UCLA.

For example, who would have thought that in a game against 7-foot-something George Zidek and the skywalking O'Bannon brothers, Ed and Charles, that a Northridge player would provide the most spectacular dunk?

A little more than two minutes left. Trenton Cross, Northridge's prized freshman on the break . . . alley-oop pass . . . Mike Dorsey slams it home.

True story.

There were other highlights.

Dorsey, though limited to only nine points, blocked shots by Charles O'Bannon, Tyus Edney and omm'A Givens.

Peter Micelli, Northridge's 6-8 center, recovered from hitting nothing but air with two of his first three shots to score a game-high 17 points.

Ruben Oronoz, though saddled by four fouls most of the second half, scored 15 points, which included four three-point baskets in eight attempts.

Robert Hill, matched against Edney in only his second college start at point guard, committed only two turnovers.

Cross, a freshman who is the team's point-guard-in-training, scored seven points in 14 minutes, including a three-point play in which he whirled through the lane, tossed in an acrobatic off-the-glass layup, then hit a free throw.

Micelli, a fifth-year senior, considered some of Northridge's highlights and couldn't resist a smile. If moral victories were suits, Micelli would have enough to fill a closet.

"You go to UCLA and you see some good things," Micelli said. "You know some (future) competition is not going to be quite as good. You look forward to playing a team that's supposed to be more on your level."

Suddenly, games against Cal State Fullerton, Cal State Long Beach, Pepperdine seem a little more palatable.

"I'm not disappointed at all," Oronoz said of Northridge's season-opening loss.

"I'm just happy to be out here playing ball. It was a great opportunity. I'm not bummed, and I'm not sad. I gave it my all, and that's all I can give."

After all, a bunch of other teams are 0-1.

Heck, Arkansas, the defending national champion, lost by 24.


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