Good thing Bob Burt, the Cal State Northridge football coach, was not in the stands for Thursday night's basketball game against Cal State Bakersfield.
A certain Northridge forward would be pestered for weeks.
His name: Ray Horwath, 6-5, 216-pounds and able to catch a ball--presumably any kind--in heavy traffic. And with the game--not to mention the conference season--on the line no less.
The senior forward had just missed an 18-foot jump shot with the Matadors trailing by a point. The ball was loose and if Bakersfield got it Horwath might be the goat.
So he hurled his body into the scramble for the rebound, came up with the ball, was fouled by Bakersfield's Tony Brooks, and calmly made two free throws with 21 seconds to play to give Northridge a 50-49 victory at the CSUN gym.
Horwath once was a junior college tight end, but he never made a bigger grab than this one.
Or scored more important points.
Instead of falling three games behind Bakersfield, the Matadors evened their record in the California Collegiate Athletic Assn. to 2-2.
Bakersfield, meanwhile, was pulled back into the fray. The Roadrunners, who had won eight in a row, are 3-1 in conference games.
"This game felt more like football than basketball, that's for sure," Horwath said after the rather physical game. "Every time you went through the key you got bounced around."
Yeah, like a receiver running a crossing pattern among linebackers.
Horwath should know. He played one season at Sierra College, which happens to be the training site of the San Francisco 49ers.
"I worked their camp and got talked into playing," Horwath said. "I still might play next year."
It seems forward Sherdrick Bonner, a Matador backup quarterback in the fall, has been bending Horwath's ear about it.
Burt, if he ever views the game films, may join the serenade.
Horwath, who has scored in double figures in all four of Northridge's conference games, had 12 points and 4 assists.
The last two points, of course, were the biggest. Coach Pete Cassidy was just glad the foul was called.
In his opinion, several were missed.
"I was beginning to wonder if they were going to blow the whistle," Cassidy said over the play that sent Horwath sprawling. "What a clutch pair of free throws."
Ditto for Jemarl Baker, a freshman making his first start. He made both ends of a one-and-one situation with 1:43 left, pulling the Matadors to within 49-48.
And how was Cassidy's pulse rate with a freshman at the line in that situation?
"I have a lot of confidence in Jemarl in tough situations," Cassidy said. "He's a freshman so I guess I'm not supposed to, but it's natural for him to come through in situations like that. He's a great competitor."
Baker scored only six points and was 2 of 6 from the field when he stepped to the line.
"I was nervous," he said. "We really needed this game."
San Luis Obispo, CSUN's opponent at home Saturday night, beat Cal State L. A., 75-64, on Thursday. With Chapman beating previously undefeated Cal Poly Pomona, 77-75, and UC Riverside beating Cal State Dominguez Hills, 62-52, six teams are bunched at the top of the standings.
San Luis Obispo, Pomona, Bakersfield and Riverside are all 3-1 in conference games. Northridge and Chapman are 2-2.
Northridge (10-6) trailed most of the game. The Matadors came back from a three-point deficit with 16 minutes to play to lead by five points four minutes later, but with four minutes left, they trailed by five.
Pat Bolden led the Matadors with 13 points. Sophomore center Todd Bowser had 11 points and 11 rebounds.
Danny Martin and Fred Jones each had 14 points for Bakersfield, which fell to 11-6 overall.