MOSCOW -- For all the negative epithets you can apply to the Idaho Vandals, you can't call them a one-man show. Nobody on the roster averages more than 11 points a game.
On the deciding play Saturday night, however, Cal State Northridge evidently knew the ball was going to Moe Fletcher. And that's one reason the Matadors escaped with a 57-56 Big West Conference win at the Kibbie Dome.
In the final seconds, Jenkins drove past Gene Myvett and pulled up for a 12-foot jump shot near the baseline. But Northridge's standout point guard, Markus Carr, left his assignment and leapt into the play, forcing Jenkins to reconsider his jumper. In midair, the junior swingman tossed the ball into the backcourt, hoping a teammate would be there. None was.
Idaho's Rodney Hilaire chased the ball down, but his desperation 28-footer with a second remaining found nothing but air.
"That's what our defense is predicated on -- help defense," Carr said. "I just got a feeling they were going to go to their main man, Moe Jenkins, so I decided to help out."
Idaho coach Leonard Perry said Bethuel Fletcher, whom Carr was guarding, was supposed to flee to the far corner to give Jenkins breathing room. And evidently Fletcher was trying to do that.
"I told our coaches, 'Thank God that Markus fell asleep, because he (Fletcher) did clear out and go to the other corner, and Markus stayed," Northridge coach Bobby Braswell said.
"We knew the play was going to go to him (Jenkins). I thought our freshman (Myvett) did a good job on him, but Markus stepped up and thought he needed a little help. To win the game on the defensive end was big for us."
Carr's defensive play offset his unforced over-and-back violation with 16.5 seconds left. He evidently didn't see the center line.
"I didn't know I was that far back, he said.
Said Braswell, "We laughed about it afterward but our coaches were talking before the game about how light the line was. It gets hidden in the big 'I' out there, I guess.
"We didn't say anything to the players. And I didn't even notice he was even close to it. I was wondering what they were calling. I just didn't see the line, so obviously he didn't see it either."
So the Vandals (0-2, 2-8) suffered their second gut-wrenching loss in their first two Big West games, both at home.
Perry, the Vandals' first-year coach, said he was speechless. He acted as if he has seen the Vandals' crunch-time collapse numerous times before -- and he has, if you count the games he has viewed on video from last season.
"This core group is going on two years of being in (close) games," he said. "Maybe we as a team get satisfaction from just being close. I think there's a sense that ... we enjoy a game like this.
"But who's going to step up and get us through when the game's on the line? We don't have that guy yet."
Early in the season, it appeared Rodney Hilaire would be a go-to player. But the senior forward shot 1-for-8 and managed only six points in 25 minutes.
"We can't get him any more open looks," Perry said. "We can't him any closer to the rim. We can't do any more shooting drills than what we've been doing. We can't do any more film-watching. We can't do any more pats on the back and supportive behavior.
"I thought Rodney started the game extremely poorly, and I took him out immediately."
Carr collected 14 points and seven assists for Northridge (1-1, 2-7), while Lionel Benjamin and Jermar Welch scored 11 apiece.
Justin Logan and Marquis Holmes led Idaho with 11 points apiece.
Jenkins scored only 10, to go along with four blocks and 40 minutes of playing time. Somehow, though, he wound up with a target on his back.
CAL STATE NORTHRIDGE (2-7)
Estavan 3-10 0-1 8, Benjamin 3-6 5-5 11, Carr 5-16 0-0 14, Boylan 1-6 1-2 4, Davis 3-5 0-1 6, Thomas 0-1 1-2 1, Welch 3-7 5-7 11, Myvett 0-1 0-0 0, Slaughter 1-4 0-0 2, Read 0-0 0-1 0. Totals 19-56 12-19 57.
Fletcher 2-5 2-2 8, Logan 4-12 0-0 11, Jenkins 5-11 0-2 10, Hilaire 1-8 4-5 6, Gerschefske 3-6 0-2 6, Holmes 5-7 1-6 11, Turner 0-3 0-0 0, Howell 1-2 2-2 4. Totals 21-54 9-19 56.
Halftime-- Idaho 36, CSN 35. 3-Point goals-- CSN 7-21 (Carr 4-9, Estavan 2-8, Boylan 1-3, Slaughter 0-1), Idaho 5-19 (Logan 3-9, Fletcher 2-5, Jenkins 0-1, Hilaire 0-1, Gerschefske 0-1, Turner 0-2. Fouled out--none. Rebounds--CSN 43 (Boylan 8), Idaho 39 (Holmes 14). Assists--CSN 15 (Carr 7), Idaho 17 (Fletcher, Logan 5). Total fouls--CSN 16, Idaho 18. A--984.