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CSUN Completes Home Schedule With 115-98 Loss to Southern Utah

TIMES STAFF WRITER

So much for rematches.

The Cal State Northridge players thought the outcome would be different when they met Southern Utah on their home court Friday night, six days after losing by 21 points to the Thunderbirds in Cedar City, Utah.

But Southern Utah’s DaVor Marcelic had other ideas. In an attempt to atone for a sub-par performance earlier in the week, he hit 14 consecutive field goals and all eight of his free throws for a 43-point effort that sank the Matadors, 115-98.

Marcelic, a 6-foot-7 junior guard from Zadar, Yugoslavia, did not miss a shot until 7 minutes 3 seconds remained in the game. He did not shoot again after his miss.

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Curiously, Northridge left Marcelic open on many of his eight three-point attempts and no Northridge player could stay with him on his driving baseline layups.

Kyle Kerlegan, who led Northridge with 21 points, admitted as much.

“Not to take anything away from him, but he didn’t hit any under pressure,” Kerlegan said. “They were just swinging the ball well.”

Northridge interim coach Tom McCollum also was impressed with the Thunderbirds’ ball movement.

“They gave him excellent passes, right in his shooting package so that he could catch it and waste no motion,” McCollum said.

It was the eighth time this season that a player has scored more than 30 points against Northridge, including Southern Utah’s Peter Johnson, who scored 34 last week against Northridge and 37 on Friday.

“I just took good shots,” said Marcelic, whose previous collegiate-high was 32, although he said that he scored 65 once in a Yugoslavian high school game. “I was confident. I was open and those are the shots I usually take.”

The score was tied eight times in the opening 13 minutes. Then David Swanson gave Northridge a little cushion with a three-point basket and a layup for a 36-31 lead.

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Southern Utah responded immediately with a 15-3 run that was finally stopped by a Northridge timeout. While the Thunderbirds forged ahead on three layups, three free throws and a pair of three-point baskets, the Matadors turned over the ball twice and put up some poor shots, an archless turnaround by Percy Fisher, a missed layup by Swanson and a weak effort by Shelton Boykin.

After the timeout, Marcelic made a pair of free throws to extend the run to 17-3 and increase the Thunderbirds’ advantage to 48-39.

In the last 2:05 of the half, Northridge cut into that lead with a three-point play by Boykin, a three-point basket by Kerlegan and a 12-foot jump shot by Andre Chevalier with one second left in the half. At intermission, Northridge trailed, 50-47.

Marcelic scored 14 of Southern Utah’s first 18 points of the second half to push the lead to 68-56.

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Keith Gibbs and four Northridge reserves rallied to pull the team within 81-75 on a three-point basket by Gibbs, a three-point play and free throw by Swanson, and David Keeter’s two foul shots. During the 9-0 run, the Northridge press forced two turnovers.

After a timeout, the Thunderbirds handled the press better and regained their shooting touch.

It was the final home game of Northridge’s inaugural Division I season. The loss dropped the Matadors to 8-18, 6-5 in Matador Gymnasium.

The Thunderbirds, a third-year Division I independent, ended their season at 16-12.

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Notes

Seniors Todd Bowser, Kyle Kerlegan and Kirk Scott were honored in their final appearance at Matador Gymnasium. As part of the Senior Night festivities, a taped message of thanks from Coach Pete Cassidy to the seniors was played over the loud-speaker system. Cassidy, who underwent surgery for diverticulitis Feb. 14, was released from Kaiser Permanente Hospital in Woodland Hills on Friday. Cassidy, 56, had been hospitalized since Feb. 8. Bowser missed the game because of a shoulder injury. The injury has forced him to miss four of the past seven games. His play was limited in the other three. . . . Northridge drew 892 to the home finale, giving the Matadors their highest season average attendance in history: 721. . . . Andre Chevalier had 11 assists to move into third place on the school’s all-time single season list with 123. He nees seven in the season finale Monday at California to break Darren Matsubara’s record of 129.


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