First, let's just get all the bad news -- and bad vibes -- out of the way. Here's what was not pretty:
- All of the first half. If you've been to a game or watched one on TV, chances are good you've seen this 20+ minutes before. And chances are you will see it again. It's ugly, it's frustrating, and it's more ugly and frustrating. Missed free throws, lots of turnovers, numerous 2nd, 3rd, 4th chances to inferior opponents, lackadaisical play and poor defense with one or two key players in foul trouble.
- The first three times down the court in the second half. Two turnovers and a break-away, open court missed dunk by Gerard Anderson. It was as if he stepped in a hole and could not elevate. I'll blame it on the old Matadump loose planks that most certainly are scattered throughout the gym.
- Lots of free throws. Surprisingly, it didn't disrupt the flow or intensity of the game. This is simply due to the way Northridge plays. They are undisciplined and they pressure the ball and they foul a lot. CSUN coach Bobby Braswell then convinces the referees -- more like whines and yells like a three year old throwing a tantrum -- that they need to call them both ways and, being Big West refs, they usually oblige.
- Rebounding. Late in the second half, the Titans were being out-rebounded 47-28. The last 20 minutes (including 3 OTs), CSF out-rebounded CSUN 20-14.
- The CSUN announcers were fine when the Matadors had a double-digit lead but once the Titans made a move, it was painful listening. They actually whine more than Braswell. Okay, not that much, but point made.
Now onto to the good news.
The Titans rallied from a 12 point halftime deficit, chipped away and then actually went ahead for a few seconds, late in the second half. They played better, made some adjustments and boxed out some but still found themselves down three with 14 seconds left and a final possession. Devon Peltier hits a clutch NBA three with 4 seconds left and CSUN misses a driving layup and the game goes to overtime.
What can not be captured in words is, for the next 15 minutes, this would be an intense-filled back and forth affair. BigWestMBB tried with this tweet: "Haymakers left and right: 94-93 with 47.7 sec after a Jacques Streeter floater." And this was posted in the second OT. The third OT had as many punches as the first two combined. Crazy, crazy stuff.
Side note and self-promotion: If you're a Twitter fan, be sure to follow TitanCentral tweets. Where else will you read such witty commentary in 140 characters or less, such as "CSUN fan ejected. Now there's a surprised. (sarcasm). Peltier misses two FTs and that is a surprise"?
The ending was miraculous and is captured forever in this video from forum member SigmaNuTitan. What it doesn't show is:
- Five Titans had fouled out, four of them starters.
- Eric Williams, the unsuspecting hero, entered the game, for the first time, two minutes into the third overtime when Jacques Streeter picked up his final foul.
- Intentionally missed free throws never work. Well, hardly ever. They are more likely to not even draw iron (violation) or actually going in the basket.
- Raymond Miller was inserted into the game on the last play for rebounding purposes. He was so intimidating that two CSUN players collapsed on him which allowed Williams to sneak in and make the amazing And-One.
Lost in the wackiness from this game is that the Titans are now in sole possession of third place with four Big West games to play. They are two games behind first place USCB, who happens to be the Titans next opponent on Wednesday, and 1-1/2 behind Pacific, who they play at home on March 4.
Can the Titans win all four and obtain a Top 2 seeding? Sure, but don't bet on it. If the past is any indication, the last four conference games will be just as tumultuous, just as unpredictable, and just as crazy as the first 14.