More than a year ago, Jim Harrick, UCLA's coach, went so far as to remind the Northridge publicity staff to bring their cameras.
Take advantage of the chance, he said. What better background for your media guides, schedule posters, etc., than historic Pauley Pavilion, nationally renowned UCLA's home court?
And so they came, cameras at the ready. Northridge had no less than three official photographers at courtside for Tuesday night's nonconference game.
They got more than they bargained for. So did UCLA.
The 12th-ranked Bruins (7-1) defeated the Matadors, 80-73, before 5,638, but Northridge put out an effort worthy of a full-length highlight film.
The Matadors (2-6) led at the half, 38-37; held a four-point advantage, 56-52, with 10 minutes left; and clung within a basket, 71-69, with two minutes to play.
"I can't be more proud of their effort tonight," Northridge Coach Pete Cassidy said of his team.
The Matadors did not get a win, but all who played had their moments--some that were perhaps captured on film.
Andre Chevalier had eight points, nine assists and three steals. One of his baskets came on a bank shot he took while parallel to the floor. Chevalier scored after driving the length of the floor after his own steal.
James Morris had 13 points and played such tenacious defense that UCLA's Shon Tarver paid him a compliment. So infuriated was Tarver by Morris and his feisty play that he grabbed Morris with both hands and shoved him across the key in the closing minutes of the first half.
Chris Yard also scored 13, including a couple of baskets on nifty moves that took him between UCLA's twin towers, 6-foot-10 Richard Petruska and 6-8 Ed O'Bannon.
Peter Micelli will have his dunk for posterity--the first one for a Northridge player this year. It came with 4:15 to play.
Anthony Moten had a jump shot that broke a 49-49 tie and pushed Northridge into the lead with 12 minutes remaining.
Freshman Robert Hill scored on an acrobatic bank shot over Tarver that gave the Matadors a four-point lead with less than 10 minutes to go. Josh Willis, who played only 20 seconds, made a free throw to get his name in the box score.
Even Robert Biggs, who did not score in his four minutes, made a contribution. He scrambled on the floor to force a jump ball during one melee in the first half.
And then there was Ryan Martin, a reserve who scored a personal-high 18 points, making five of his nine three-point shots. "This is the first time I've ever even been in this building," Martin said. "This is where Bill Walton and all the greats have played. But we got over the butterflies and thought about getting the win. I felt in my heart we were going to get it."
They didn't. But they did come away with well-earned respect. "They brought it to us," Harrick said. "They came to play as well as they possibly could and they did."
If nothing else, Northridge will always have the photos--and the halftime stat sheet showing the Matadors in the lead. It's suitable for framing.
PULLING RANK: UCLA foiled State Northridge's upset bid, 80-73. C1