Northridge Passes Test, Fails to Make the Grade


One day, two tests.

One in the classroom, the other on the hardwood.

So, Mike Dorsey, which one was tougher, the sociology quiz in the afternoon, or the basketball examination Wednesday night against UC Irvine at the Bren Events Center?

"Tonight's, definitely," Dorsey said.

Give outmanned Northridge an A for effort, but it wasn't enough against an Irvine team able to send in waves of reserves.

Northridge, down to eight scholarship players and only two taller than 6 feet 5, dropped an 89-73 decision to the Anteaters in a nonconference game played before 1,741 spectators.

Peter Micelli, Northridge's second-leading scorer and rebounder, stayed home after falling violently ill early Wednesday morning.

Ruben Oronoz, who has missed all or most of the Matadors' last 11 games, also didn't make the trip because of a leg injury.

"Those guys are two major contributors on our team, and without them we're in trouble coming in," said Ryan Martin, who set a school record for three-point shooting on his way to scoring 20 points.

For a while, Martin seemed capable of keeping Northridge close by himself. He scored the first 11 points for the Matadors, including three baskets from three-point range.

Northridge made only 32% of its shots in the first half and one of the reasons was its penchant for firing from the outside. The Matadors sank only four of their first 24 points on shots from inside the lane.

Fatigue was a factor.

Not only was Northridge (7-19) short on players, the Matadors also were playing for the second consecutive night and after their third long bus ride over the course of two days.

Irvine Coach Rod Baker took full advantage, substituting freely.

"They came in one after another," said Dorsey, who played 35 minutes. "I know I had to deal with three different guys, and they were all real strong. They had fresh legs and I didn't."

Irvine suited 14 players. All of them played and 12 of them scored, led by Mark Odsather, who had 18 points, and Keith Simmons who added 17 points and 10 rebounds.

Irvine (10-15) used a 9-1 edge on the offensive boards to build a nine-point halftime advantage even while shooting a slightly worse percentage than anemic Northridge.

The Anteaters turned that around in a hurry in the second half, missing only four shots in the first 10 minutes while building their lead to 17 points.

Northridge, sparked by freshman Trenton Cross, cut the margin to 10 points with six minutes remaining, but Irvine responded with a 15-6 run to pull away.

"To close to 10 was a great effort," Northridge Coach Pete Cassidy said. "It wasn't a lack of effort. Maybe a lack of horses, but not of effort."

Martin, who hit four three-point baskets to give him a record 123 for his Northridge career, concurred.

"The effort was there," he said. "It's been there the last three games. Now we have to hit the shots and make the passes."

Details, details.

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