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This Time, Northridge Gets Turned Inside Out by San Diego State, 80-47

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Watching the Cal State Northridge basketball team play San Diego State in a nonconference game Tuesday night, one couldn’t help but wonder: How did the Matadors beat this team two years in a row?

The Aztecs weren’t about to be embarrassed a third time, so they methodically took apart Northridge, 80-47, in front of 1,626 at the San Diego Sports Arena.

“We were a little bit out-horsed,” Northridge Coach Pete Cassidy said. “They pounded us early and that set the tone. They’ve got big, thick, strong guys.”

The most damage was done by 6-foot-8 Paul Jarrett, who scored 16 points, and 6-10 Leon Carter, who added 13.

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Northridge has no player taller than 6-7.

“They came out hard on us,” said Northridge center Tom Samson. “If we can’t [play defense] inside, we are not going to win conference. And that’s our goal. We have to salvage this season somehow.”

The Matadors (4-15), who have lost six in a row, also committed 23 turnovers and shot 35%.

“It’s very frustrating to me,” Cassidy said. “You have to give some credit to San Diego State’s defense. . . but I think we contributed.”

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Northridge point guard Trenton Cross, who equaled Samson with 10 points but also gave up the ball six times, said the turnovers were mostly caused by carelessness.

“I think we kind of panicked and then just threw the ball away,” he said.

Samson also said the Matadors’ just came out flat.

“It’s one thing to get beat playing hard, it’s another to get beat playing like a dog,” he said.

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At the start of the game, Northridge looked like dog food for the Aztecs.

San Diego State’s Carter, who averages just 11.9 points, feasted on the smaller Matadors. Carter scored 10 of the Aztecs’ first 12 points.

Carter and Jarrett pounded Northridge inside, and Jarrett even chipped in with two three-pointers.

But most of the Aztecs’ first-half damage was done from inside, as they jumped to a 28-10 lead.

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Cassidy was unhappy that his team was not patient enough on offense, putting up quick shots instead of working for a good one.

“If you just put up early shots, it’s like walking into the teeth of the tiger,” he said.

Northridge, which managed to make only 30% of its shots in the first half, made its most serious threat of the game when Rod Stinson scored five consecutive points to pull the Matadors to within 31-18.

The final minute of the half summed up Northridge’s fortunes. Cross was breaking downcourt when he simply lost his dribble. San Diego State (11-7) grabbed the loose ball and got a dunk at the other end, taking a 42-21 lead into the locker room.

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The contest deteriorated in the second half into a playground game. Neither team seemed too interested in playing defense, though the Matadors did show some signs of life.

The loss was particularly frustrating for the Matadors because they played so well in Saturday night’s overtime loss at Southern Utah.

Every time Northridge has played a game in which it seemed to be improving, the Matadors have followed it with an ugly loss.

“It’s tough to take five steps forward, then 10 steps back,” Cross said.

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