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Northridge Keeps Drowning Against the Waves, 68-52 : Basketball: Pepperdine hands the Matadors their fifth consecutive loss.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The frustration level is high. The playing intensity is low.

Add ‘em up and you have Cal State Northridge, a team with a five-game losing streak and an increasingly poor attitude.

Faced by Pepperdine, another struggling team, Tuesday night at Firestone Fieldhouse, the Matadors were sluggish in a 68-52 defeat before a crowd of 1,566.

“There’s no emotion at all out there, no desire to win,” lamented forward Mike Dorsey, who scored 12 points for Northridge and added seven rebounds. “Maybe in the past, people got used to losing. I’m know I’m not.”

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Dorsey, a junior, is in his first season with Northridge after transferring from Los Angeles City College.

Last season’s L.A. City team was 27-6.

Northridge is 2-8.

“I know losing affects these people, but it seems like some people aren’t affected too much,” Dorsey said. “Some people . . . they’re just so used to losing. That’s going to have to change.”

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Coach Pete Cassidy didn’t point fingers, but he similarly cited lackluster play by the Matadors.

“We need a greater passion to compete,” Cassidy said. “We’re not coming out with any enthusiasm.”

One coach’s pain, another’s gain.

“This came at the right time for us,” Pepperdine Coach Tony Fuller said. “Northridge is struggling.”

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And how. The Matadors haven’t won since Dec. 9.

A zone defense employed by Pepperdine allowed Northridge precious few scoring opportunities within the paint. Forced outside, the Matadors responded by making only four of 15 three-point shots.

Twice Northridge went more than six minutes without a basket.

Leading, 10-9, after eight minutes of sloppy play, the Matadors missed four shots and committed six turnovers during a stretch in which Pepperdine scored 10 unanswered points.

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Again in the second half, Northridge made only two free throws in 6 1/2 minutes, allowing the Waves to build a five-point advantage into a 46-33 spread.

Fuller attributed Northridge’s struggles to Pepperdine’s zone defense. Cassidy saw things differently.

“I don’t think it was their zone,” Cassidy said. “It was pretty standard. It was the way we attacked it. You can’t beat zones by passing around the perimeter.”

Pepperdine (4-8) overcame 20 turnovers by shooting 48% and maintaining a balanced attack. Center Gavin Vanderputten and guard Gerald Brown each scored 12 points for the Waves. Josh Merrill and Clark James added 11 points each and Khary Hervey scored 10.

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Vanderputten, a seven-footer, and James, who came off the bench, each had seven rebounds to lead a 37-22 Pepperdine advantage on the boards.

Monte Marcaccini, a freshman from Notre Dame High, scored seven points for the Waves, though he was shut out until the last four minutes.

Marcaccini, who originally signed with Indiana but played last season for a championship junior team in Treviso, Italy, came in averaging 13 points a game.

Five of his points came at the free-throw line. He made only one of his five shots.

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Pepperdine was without sophomore Kirk Goehring, a starting forward who quit the team earlier on Tuesday.


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