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Northridge Surprises Loyola Marymount

February 28, 1996|JEFF FLETCHER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

If the Cal State Northridge basketball team is to put a silver lining on an otherwise cloudy season, it will take two more performances like Tuesday night's.

Northridge, playing its final regular-season game before the American West Conference tournament starts on Friday, stunned Loyola Marymount with an 81-75 nonconference victory before 679 at Matador Gym.

"I think we finally showed the kind of game we are capable of playing," said junior forward Tom Samson, whose blocked shot with 30 seconds to play preserved a three-point lead.

That was only one of the many times Matador players found themselves at the right place at the right time, helping Northridge (7-19) shock the Lions (18-10).

"I thought Northridge played extremely hard," said Loyola Coach John Olive. "The two main factors were they came up with most of the loose balls and long rebounds and they got a lot of second-chance baskets."

Ruben Oronoz, who had a career-high 21 points and 11 rebounds, picked up his fourth double-double in the past six games. The scoring star of the night, though, was Josh Willis, who scored all 15 of his points in the second half.

Willis, however, was almost the goat in the final minute. He turned the ball over under the Matador basket with Northridge up, 78-75, and 32.5 seconds left.

Moments later, though, Samson saved the day with a clean block of Terryl Woolery's shot.

Ime Oduk led the Lions with 17 points and 16 rebounds.

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