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NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - Illinois State's valiant rally from a 13-point deficit with 3:33 remaining fell just short as California State Northridge held on for a 73-69 nonconference basketball victory Saturday night before 1,013 people at the Matadome.

Dana Ford's 3-point basket began a string of six straight as the Redbirds tied the game at 69 on Ford's third 3-pointer in the spree with 18.5 seconds to go. ISU was behind 60-51 with 69 seconds remaining.

Mike Efevberha's two free throws with 16.7 seconds left gave Northridge a 71-69 advantage. The Redbirds had a chance to win the game with 2.3 seconds left, but Dana Ford's 3-point attempt from the top of the key bounced off the rim.

Ford ended up with the ball after Neil Plank, driving to the basket, was knocked to the floor without a foul being called and the ball rolled free. Thomas Shewmake then made a pair of free throws with one second left to give the Matadors (5-3) the victory.

"We just dug ourselves too big a hole," said ISU coach Porter Moser. "It seemed like every time we made a run, they would answer."

Northridge was 31 of 39 from the free-throw line, while ISU shot only six free throws and made three. The Matadors made their first 14 free throws without a miss. They were perfect in 12 attempts in the first half, while the Redbirds didn't have an attempt.

"We can't use (the officials) as an excuse," said Moser. "The referees are part of it that we have to overcome."

Northridge coach Bobby Braswell said his team wanted to be aggressive on offense.

"We put in a new wrinkle on offense this week because we knew they wouldn't play zone," said Braswell. "We wanted to drive the ball on them because we felt we were maybe a step quicker and a little more athletic."

Efevberha led the Matadors with a game-high 27 points. The junior guard scored 23 points in the second half. Shewmake had 12 rebounds as Northridge owned a 42-25 advantage on the boards.

ISU placed four players in double figures with Ford's 15 leading the way. Nedu Onyeuku added 14, freshman Brandon Holtz a career-high 11 and Plank 10. Plank had a team-high seven rebounds and seven assists.

The Redbirds shot 41.5 percent from the field. The Matadors made 45.2 percent of their shots. ISU, which saw its record drop to 5-3, forced 27 turnovers and admitted to 17.

The game was tied eight times in the first half, while the lead changed sides six times. Northridge used a 15-7 run in the first five minutes of the second half to gain a 45-37 lead. Efevberha had 12 of the points.

ISU's top defensive player Greg Dilligard fouled out with 6:08 remaining after logging only 16 minutes. He scored eight points and had two rebounds.

Box score

Cal State Northridge 73, Illinois State 69

ISU (5-3) - Plank 4-11 0-0 10, Vandello 0-2 0-0 0, Dilligard 4-5 0-0 8, K. Ford 3-7 0-0 8, D. Ford 6-13 0-0 15, Onyeuku 6-12 0-2 14, Wallace 0-0 0-0 0, Dyer 0-1 2-2 2, Odiakosa 0-3 1-2 1, Holtz 4-10 0-0 11, Carlwell 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 27-65 3-6 69.

Northridge (5-3) - Efevberha 7-16 11-15 27, Powers 0-1 0-0 0, Waggener 1-3 1-2 3, Haynes 1-1 2-2 5, Altheimer 0-0 2-2 2, Locke 3-3 0-0 6, Heard 4-7 4-4 6, Miller 1-3 4-4 6, Hill 0-0 0-0 0, Jones 1-1 2-2 4, Shewmake 1-4 3-6 5, Everage 0-3 2-2 2. Totals 19-42 31-39 73.

Halftime score: ISU 30, Northridge 30. Rebounds: ISU 25 (Plank 7); Northridge 42 (Shewmake 12) Three-point field goals: ISU 12-29; Northridge 4-9; Assists: ISU 19 (Plank 7); Northridge 12 (Heard 3, Efevberha 3); Attendance: 1,013

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