It's still very early in the season, but Cal State Northridge has to be the surprise of the California Collegiate Athletic Assn. as the first weekend of conference play came to a close.
Twenty-four hours after defeating highly touted Cal Poly San Luis Obispo on the Mustangs' home court, the Matadors came from behind to beat Cal State Bakersfield, 61-58, at the CSUB Activities Center on Saturday night.
Jemarl Baker's 12-foot jump shot with 15 seconds left gave Northridge (7-8, 2-0 in conference play) a 59-58 lead and Sandy Brown's two free throws with one second remaining iced the victory.
The win was the Matadors' third in a row and snapped Bakersfield's 12-game winning streak.
Baker's basket was only his second of the game, but the Northridge defense rose to the occasion in the final seconds, forcing Wade Green to turn over the ball into Brown's hands.
"We knew we were good coming into here," Baker said. "We knew we had the talent to contend for the conference championship, but I think our record fooled a lot of people into thinking we weren't that good."
Kendell McDaniels had a team-high 15 points for Northridge, and Derrick Gathers and Kris Brodowski each had 10.
Marvin Redeemer, Bakersfield's 6-foot-4, 220-pound senior forward, scored a game-high 22 points for the Roadrunners (13-2, 1-1).
Green's third three-point basket gave the Roadrunners a 51-47 lead with seven minutes to play, but Northridge went on an 8-2 run to take a 55-53 lead with 3:55 left on Brown's five-foot jump shot in the lane.
Willie Austin hit a three-point shot on Bakersfield's next possession to give the Roadrunners a 56-55 lead with 3:37 left.
After that, the lead seesawed.
Gathers gave Northridge a 57-56 advantage with 2:45 left, and Redeemer's inside basket gave the Roadrunners a 58-57 lead with 2:02 left, setting the stage for Baker's heroics.
Trailing, 35-31, with 1:15 remaining in the first half, Northridge scored four of the last five points before intermission to trail by just two points, 36-34, at intermission.
McDaniels tipped in a Gathers' miss with 4:55 left in the half to tie the score, 28-28, but the Roadrunners went on a 6-0 run to take a 34-28 lead with 2:08 remaining.
Redeemer scored all of Bakersfield's points during the surge and had 13 points on five-of-eight shooting at the half.
The Matadors' biggest lead of the half was four points after Bill Mazurie drove the lane to give them a 19-15 lead, but Bakersfield retaliated quickly, going on a 9-0 blitz in the next minute and half to take a 24-19 lead.