Cal State Northridge's season will continue tonight, picking up where things abruptly ended last season -- against Pacific.
The Matadors survived a rough and often ragged game, coming away with a 72-56 victory over UC Irvine on Thursday in the Anaheim Convention Center to advance to tonight's semifinals against the 18th-ranked Tigers.
Northridge was the sixth-seeded team in the Big West tournament last season and went on a run that had it on the brink of an NCAA tournament berth.
The Matadors lost to Pacific, 75-73, in the title game.
Pacific has won eight of 10 games from the Matadors since Northridge joined the conference in the 2001-02 season.
"It doesn't matter to me, it's just another game to play," Northridge's Davin White said. "You either win or go home."
Last season, the Matadors went home. They were tied in the final seconds, when a controversial foul gave the Tigers two free throws. White missed a three-point shot at the buzzer.
To improve on that effort, the Matadors (18-12) will need a significantly smoother effort than they put forth Thursday.
Joseph Frazier scored 18 points and Ian Boylan 16 for Northridge. But the Matadors were unable to sustain momentum.
Northridge took control at the start, leading, 16-5, after five minutes. But the rest of the first half and part of the second was a struggle.
UC Irvine (16-13) trailed, 50-45, midway through the second half, but faded.
Aaron Fitzgerald, who scored 30 points in a first-round victory over Idaho, scored only five points Thursday before fouling out with three minutes left.