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Northridge Holds On for 74-73 Victory

December 17, 1995|JEFF FLETCHER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Cal State Northridge's Damion Morbley missed a free throw with four seconds left to give the Matadors a 74-73 victory Saturday night.

Honest.

Morbley made the first of two free throws to give the Matadors a one-point edge against Northeastern Illinois. According to Morbley, he tried to miss the second so the Golden Eagles wouldn't be able to take the ball out of bounds and set up a play for a final shot.

The shot hit the front of the rim, bounced around among players from both teams, and finally was scooped up by Northridge guard Trenton Cross, who cradled the ball to seal the victory before 325.

Morbley swears, despite cynicism from teammates, that he missed the shot on purpose.

"Believe me," said Morbley, who finished with 21 points. "I did. I would have liked to have the extra point, but I did what was best for the team."

But Northridge forward Eric Gray, repeating what he said to Morbley, said: "No one has that much touch. You can't tell me you missed that on purpose. . . . But I'm glad you did."

Whatever went through Morbley's mind at the time, the shot capped a wild second half.

The Matadors (2-5) trailed the entire first half before Gray's 11 points in the first four minutes of the second half gave Northridge its first lead, 42-40.

The teams traded leads the rest of the game, until Northridge went ahead, 68-61, on Gerald Rhoden's free throw with 2:26 to play. Rhoden finished with 22 points.

The Golden Eagles' full-court press forced five turnovers in the final two minutes and they tied the score, 73-73, with 16 seconds to play.

After a Northridge timeout, Cross beat the press and got the ball to Morbley for a drive to basket. He was fouled by Andrell Hoard, setting up the winning free throw.

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