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Northridge Falls Short at Missouri : College basketball: Tigers block 10 shots and hold the Matadors to 32% shooting in a 65-54 victory. CSUN suffers its fifth consecutive defeat.

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

After fouling out, having five of his shots blocked and watching his team lose its fifth consecutive game, Cal State Northridge forward Chris Yard was ready to do it all again.

Missouri defeated the Matadors, 65-54, Wednesday night in front of 13,349 at the Hearnes Center, but that didn’t seem to bother Yard, who finished with three points on one-for-nine shooting.

“I wish we could play teams like this all the time,” Yard said. “It’s always fun to play in big games.”

Missouri (14-6) blocked 10 shots, more than any other team this year against Northridge, and held the Matadors (7-12) to 32% shooting from the field. Northridge had been hitting 44%.

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“I think we got a good look to the basket,” Northridge guard Andre Chevalier said. “I don’t think any of us were hitting our shots. We were getting open, we just didn’t hit them.”

Chavalier, who finished one assist and three steals short of the school records in a career in those categories, led the Matadors with 17 points. James Morris, who picked up his third foul midway though the first half, added 10.

CSUN did not start like a team playing its fifth consecutive road game. The Matadors led, 14-5, after the first nine minutes. But Missouri, which had lost its last two, went on a 15-0 run to take the lead. Northridge cut it to one by halftime but never got closer. Missouri opened the second half with a 12-4 run.

The Matadors hung with the Tigers the rest of the way and trailed by seven with 20 seconds to go. But Missouri’s Melvin Booker, who led all scorers with 19 points, hit two free throws, and Mark Atkins had a dunk to seal the victory.

“I was proud of our effort,” Northridge Coach Pete Cassidy said. “The effort was as good as any we’ve given all year. We had a few trips down when we just didn’t have the intensity.”

Cassidy said the five-game trip sapped the Matadors’ strength.

“You just get emotionally drained and physically drained,” Cassidy said. “But you still have to get up for the games. If you don’t get up, you’re going to get blown out.”

While the Northridge locker room was generally happy with the way the game went, the Tigers were exactly the opposite.

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“I don’t think we got anything out of this game,” Booker said. “We didn’t play well. We got the win, so we have to be happy, I guess.”

Missouri’s inside attack of 6-foot-11 center Chris Heller and 6-9 forward Jevon Crudup scored 10 and 11 points, respectively, and had a combined 18 rebounds and five blocks. Although the rebounding totals gave the Tigers only a 36-33 edge, they did cause the Matadors to alter their shots on numerous occasions.

“They’re not No. 6 in the nation for defensive field-goal percentage for nothing,” Cassidy said. “We don’t have a big guy inside who can neutralize that. It was a combination of their superior height, their good coaching and quickness on the perimeter.”

Said Yard: “They’re the biggest team we’ve played all season. We just had to get used to it. This is the only team we’ll play this year with that kind of height. It just hit us out of the blue.”

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