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Bowser Graces CSUN Victory With 26 Points : Kingsmen Drop 18th in Row to Rival Matadors, 92-78

<i> Times Staff Writer </i>

Todd Bowser has been called a lot of things in his 3 seasons as starting center for the Cal State Northridge basketball team.

Most of them are in reference to his physique, all 6 feet, 8 inches, 280 pounds of it. A majority of the verbs tossed Bowser’s way--the ones screamed by opposing fans--are not suitable for print.

But graceful? The term is never used in connection with the big junior’s jump shot. Well, rarely.

At Cal Lutheran on Wednesday night, Bowser was his usual workmanlike self. He scored 26 points, most of them with Kingsmen draped like napkins over his arms, and grabbed 11 rebounds.

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And, most memorably, he punctuated a 92-78 Northridge victory with, of all things, a 3-point shot at the buzzer.

Part of the new repertoire, Todd?

“It is now,” Bowser said. “I can hit that shot. I just never get the chance.”

Actually, Coach Pete Cassidy said, Northridge has a play to set up Bowser from long range.

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“That was not it,” Cassidy said.

Perhaps it is being saved for a more opportune time.

Northridge (9-2) didn’t need heroics against Cal Lutheran, although the game was played much closer than the score would indicate.

The Matadors were clinging to a 74-72 advantage with 5:55 to play. Bowser outscored the Kingsmen, 9-6, the rest of the way.

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Cal Lutheran (6-6) didn’t score in the last 2:27, missing 3 jump shots and turning the ball over twice on steals by Derrick Gathers.

“We worked hard, we hit the boards. The effort was certainly there,” said Steve deLaveaga, who scored a game-high 31 points for Cal Lutheran. “We just didn’t shoot.”

He needn’t have included himself. DeLaveaga made 13 of 23 shots, including 2 of 4 from 3-point range, and all 3 of his free throws. He was the only Kingsman to make more than half of his field-goal attempts, however.

Cal Lutheran shot a dismal 40.8% compared to CSUN’s 51.5%.

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It was a statistic not lost on CLU Coach Larry Lopez.

“The effort was there, no question,” he said. “So were the shots. We were patient. We did what we had to do to get good shots. We just didn’t make them.”

And so the streak continues. Cal Lutheran is winless against Northridge in 18 meetings.

With Cal Lutheran no longer allowed to grant athletic scholarships in accordance with its proposed move to the NCAA Division III, the nonconference game on the its home court may been its last bona fide opportunity for a victory over the Matadors.

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“It’s taken our lineup 3 years to get to this point, so it is disappointing in that respect,” Lopez said. “We’ve played one Division I team and six Division II teams so far. We’re 6-6 but we’re doing pretty good, considering. We’ve been competitive against all the Division II schools.”

That was small consolation to DeLaveaga, however.

“I would have liked to beat Northridge just this once,” he said with a forlorn look.

DeLaveaga, who came in averaging 27.1 points, had only 13 at the half but made 8 of 11 shots in the second half.

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“He’s a helluva shooter,” Gathers said of DeLaveaga. “He puts up those long-range skyscrapers. He’s very awkward--it’s almost like he’s shooting the ball from out of bounds sometimes--but he gets them off and they go in. I’ve got to respect the man.”

Gathers wasn’t so bad himself. He scored 22 points on 9-of-15 shooting and had 8 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals. The 6-3 guard had 14 points in the first half, then only 3 in the first 18 minutes of the second half, but 5 in final 2 minutes.

Northridge had a 42-38 advantage at the half after leading by as many as 12 in the early going.

DeLaveaga was shadowed by Gathers for most of the first half and managed only 4 shot attempts and 2 points in the first 13 minutes.

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It was with DeLaveaga on the bench when Cal Lutheran cut CSUN’s 12-point margin in half. Upon returning to the lineup with 7 minutes left in the half, he scored 11 of CLU’s final 16 points.


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