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Northridge Comeback Falls Short as CS Long Beach Prevails, 88-73

TIMES STAFF WRITER

After yet another loss, Cal State Northridge cannot be blamed for looking for moral victories. In its 88-73 loss to Cal State Long Beach on Wednesday night, it found a silver lining.

CSUN (1-6) not only held a team under 90 points for the first time all season, it put together the best second-half comeback of its season.

Unlike the surges against Montana and Montana State--where CSUN cut the deficit from 28 points to within 14, but no closer--the Matadors pulled within three before the host 49ers pulled away for their second win against four losses.

The 13-4 spurt started with a layup by freshman Andre Chevalier, pulled into high gear when Chevalier set up Keith Gibbs for a reverse dunk, maintained momentum with consecutive baskets by Shelton Boykin, continued with a steal and 10-foot bank shot by David Swanson and ended when Gibbs nailed a three-point basket off a steal by Chevalier.

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Suddenly, Long Beach Coach Seth Greenberg was throwing his suit coat into the bleachers and chewing his players up one side and down the other.

Unfortunately for Northridge fans, the tirade had the desired effect. The 49ers scored seven points in a row and outscored CSUN, 21-4, in a seven-minute span that ended with the Matadors trailing, 76-57.

“We allowed some penetration which was the big thing we told ‘em not to permit,” CSUN Coach Pete Cassidy said. “Lucious Harris is awful good at that and they are so physical, they have amazing size and quickness. We also had a touch of panic there with the press and that shouldn’t have happened.”

Harris, a former Cleveland High star, scored two of his game-high 25 points and handed out three of his five assists immediately after the Matadors closed the gap.

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“We came out slow and they jumped out on us,” Harris said. “I was scared. We had to get back out there and work.”

Although the rally earned CSUN a measure of respect, Gibbs is weary of the Matadors’ inability to maintain it.

“It makes me more frustrated to have a streak like that and not be able to hold onto it,” he said. “That streak showed us we can play, but we have to do that the whole game.”

Chevalier, whose defense helped key the streak, earned the praise of his former Cleveland High Coach Bobby Braswell, now a 49ers assistant coach.

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“It is good to see him--I can say it now--play that well,” Braswell said. “He played great defense, he put some pressure on some people. He always had the biggest heart. He has no fear, he took charges from some 6-8 and 6-9 guys and he’s only 5-8, you know.”

The 6-8 and 6-9 guys caused problems nonetheless. Frankie Edwards scored 15 points and Bryon Russell had 14.

CSUN, which has pressed all season, abandoned the press because of the 49ers quickness, but Long Beach used it after made baskets and forced seven first-half turnovers with it.

Northridge also was whistled for four traveling violations and an out-of-bounds violation.

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