Cal State Northridge's hopes of a berth in the NCAA men's basketball tournament ended tonight with a 61-59 loss to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in the championship game of the Big West Conference men's basketball tournament at the Honda Center.
Stephen Maxwell's layup with one minute, 32 seconds to play gave the Matadors a 59-55 lead, but they never scored again.
In a second half with nine ties and seven lead changes, the Mustangs (13- 19) scored the game's final six points, taking the lead for good on Ridge Shipley's 3-point basket with 13.7 seconds left.
Northridge (17-18) appeared to regain the lead on the ensuing possession, but center Tre Hale-Edmerson's basket with 4.6 seconds remaining was nullified when he was called for an offensive foul.
Kyle Odister added a point to Cal Poly's lead by making a free throw with four seconds left. He missed the second, and Maxwell grabbed the rebound, but the Matadors were unable to get a shot off before time expired.
Mustang fans stormed the court following the game, with one tripping over Northridge guard Josh Greene, a senior, who had remained lying on the court.
Maxwell led the Matadors with 18 points, while Greene added 12 and Stephan Hicks 11.
Senior forward Chris Eversley, selected as the tournament's MVP, led Cal Poly with 18 points, while guard David Nwaba added 17 and Shipley 14 off the bench.
Northridge took a 19-8 lead 9:12 into the game, its biggest advantage, and were ahead 29-25 at halftime
The Mustangs scored the first six points of the second half, tying the score for the first time, 29-29, 1:10 into the second half, and taking their first lead, 31-29, 18 seconds later.
Neither team led by more than four points for the remainder of the game.
Cal Poly was seeded seventh in the eight-team tournament. It upset second-seeded UC Santa Barbara, 69-38, in Thursday's first round and top-seeded UC Irvine, 61-58, in a semifinal Friday. The Mustangs are the first seventh- seeded team to win the tournament and the lowest seed.
Cal Poly qualified for the NCAA tournament for the first time in its 20 seasons in Division I.
The Matadors were seeded fifth and were hoping to advance to the tournament for the third time since entering Division I in the 1990-91 season and first since 2009.
--City News Service