NORTHRIDGE — What started as a boisterous statement by the Cal State Northridge women's basketball team turned into a sigh of relief.
The Matadors led Pepperdine nearly from start to finish, and by as many as 18 points midway through the second half, before holding on for a 69-62 nonconference victory Saturday night in the opener for both teams at Northridge.
"I walked off saying, 'Thank God,' " Northridge Coach Frozena Jerro said. "Thank God they didn't make their free throws."
The Matadors can be thankful that the Waves made only eight of 30 free throws and missed their seven attempts in the first half.
Northridge extended a 32-24 halftime lead to 52-34 with 9:30 remaining before Pepperdine rallied.
The Waves cut the deficit to six points three times in the final 2:00, only to have Northridge point guard Edniesha Curry respond with four free throws in the last 38 seconds.
Curry, a junior from Palmdale High touted as an All-American candidate, certainly looked the part.
She finished with 25 points, making seven of 17 shots from the field and nine of 14 free throws.
"I knew we had some fighters on this team and we knew (Pepperdine) was going to come at us," Curry said. "Basketball's about stopping runs and we stopped them when we had to."
After Northridge forward Neda Milic and center Keisha Harris fouled out in the second half, the Waves repeatedly fed the ball inside to center Anna Lembke and reserve forward Dee Braxton. Braxton had 11 points and eight rebounds, and Lembke had 10 points and eight rebounds.
Pepperdine's freshman guard Damaris Hinojosa, a former standout at Moorpark High, finished with 16 points and seven rebounds.
Forward Lynda Amari had 11 points and 12 rebounds for the Matadors, and reserve forward Myesha Saleem had 10 points and six rebounds.