Too bad basketball games don't last just 20 minutes. If that were the case, then Cal State Dominguez Hills wouldn't be looking from the bottom up in the California Collegiate Athletic Assn.
Nor would the Toros be 4-11 overall. Dominguez Hills has held halftime leads nine times this season, but has gone on to win only four, including a pair of CCAA openers this weekend.
Both an overtime loss Friday at Cal Poly Pomona (69-63) and one in regulation Saturday at UC Riverside (66-54) fit what is becoming a painful pattern for Toro followers: A gutty, freshmen-dominated Dominguez Hills grabs the pace of the game early and edges away with consistent play to control the halftime scoreboard.
The Toros seem to be OK, too, in the first six minutes of the final period.
But then the roof slowly caves in. A freshman turnover here, a three-point basket by an opponent there. Center Joseph Janney drops a rebound out of bounds and point guard Robert Barksdale, who holds the team together with his offensive moves, tires.
Suddenly, Dominguez Hills trails and a comeback falls short.
It's a familiar scenario, yet one that Coach Dave Yanai had difficultly explaining Saturday night.
"We played very well, I give credit to Riverside," Yanai said.
Riverside Coach John Masi credited Yanai with doing the best he can with the starless line-up he has had to operate with this year, including three freshmen and a sophomore who play most of the game.
But Masi said he thinks he knows why the Toros can't build on their halftime advances.
"Probably because it has happened so many times before about the same time in the game, they are probably thinking about it happening and then it does. That's a big factor."
Dominguez Hills led at the half, 31-28, against Riverside. Against Pomona, Dominguez Hills led 37-33.
Another factor in their second-half troubles has been the Toros' inability to control the baseline. Against Riverside, the Toros allowed the Highlanders 11 baskets off offensive rebounds.
Said Yanai: "We're skinny kids. . . . We get overmatched on the boards."
Offensively, as Barksdale goes, so go the Toros. He scored 33 points Friday night, two short of the school record, but was held scoreless in the final 13 minutes of play.
Saturday night was much the same. Barksdale had three assists and 13 points at the half but barely touched the ball in the final 20 minutes. He finished with 20 points.
Masi said he made an adjustment on Barksdale at the half, and he predicted that other teams in the CCAA will begin to guard him more closely as the season progresses.
"When you handle the ball and shoot the ball that much, you are bound to get a little weary," Masi said. "They need to get a sub just for him so he can (rest). It will get worse for him down the road."
Forward Chris Ceballos came off the bench Saturday to score 25 points to lead the Highlanders.
In the women's game, Dominguez Hills erased a 24-21 deficit with a 16-2 scoring run in the second half, then cruised to a 61-53 victory over Riverside.
Yvonne Vanlandingham, with 18 points and 11 rebounds, and Brigitte Frazier, with 12 points and 11 rebounds, keyed the win.
The Lady Toros, who lost their CCAA opener, 78-50, on Friday night at Cal Poly Pomona, raised their overall record to 9-7.