The Cal State Northridge women’s basketball team went cold at the wrong time on Tuesday afternoon.
Cal State Bakersfield took full advantage, rallying for a 55-52 win in a first-round game of the Big West Tournament at the Dollar Loan Center in Henderson, Nevada.
The ninth-seeded Roadrunners (7-22) will face top-seeded UC Irvine (24-5) in a quarterfinal game on Wednesday at noon.
Bakersfield had lost both regular-season games to CSUN this season.
“They battled,” Northridge coach Carlene Mitchell said of Bakersfield. “They didn’t want to go home today. They made the big plays late that they needed to make in order to get the victory, so credit to them.”
The eighth-seeded Matadors lost to Bakersfield in the opening round of the tournament last season, surrendering a last-second layup in overtime.
CSUN (7-24) was trying for its first tournament victory since winning the championship in 2018 against UC Davis.
“After last year, we had the same game coming in so we were really ready to come in and take over,” said Northridge senior Tess Amundsen, who scored 14 points for Northridge to surpass 1,000 for her college career. “We really wanted that win, move onto the next round, anybody does.”
Amundsen made her only 3-point attempt of the game to give the Matadors a 49-42 lead with 5: 37 left, but Northridge wouldn’t score again until hitting a meaningless 3-pointer with two seconds left.
Amundsen’s offensive foul gave Bakersfield the ball with 45 seconds remaining and trailing by a point.
Sophia Tougas, who scored 17 points off the bench for Bakersfield, drove into the lane and scored on a layup with 31 seconds left to give the Roadrunners a 50-49 lead, their first of the second half.
Grace Hunter then blocked a shot by Ana Carolina De Jesus under the CSUN basket. Hunter then went to the free-throw line, made the first and missed the second, but Hennie van Schaik grabbed the offensive rebound and laid it in for a 53-49 lead with 18 seconds left.
Two more free throws by van Schaik with six seconds left sealed the victory.
De Jesus, who came in averaging 3.2 points and 2.8 rebounds, finished with season-highs of 12 points and 10 rebounds for Northridge.
Northridge guard Jordyn Jackson, a two-time All-Big West honorable mention selection, was held to a season-low three points.
“The growth (Amundsen) has made on the court, you can’t even put a number to it,” Mitchell said. “You never think a senior is going to go out like this because you visualize them cutting down nets, and someone like Tess deserves that.”
Bakersfield missed eight of its first nine shots to fall behind 10-3 just 3½ minutes into the game.
The Roadrunners began to find their rhythm and cut the deficit to 14-12 by the end of their first quarter.
Bakersfield took its first lead at 17-16 on a jumper by van Schaik with 7: 28 left in the first half and both teams continued to trade leads until De Jesus made a layup with five seconds remaining in the half to give the Matadors a 30-29 lead at halftime.
De Jesus had 10 points and six rebounds in the opening half for CSUN.
The Matadors scored the first six points of the second half to move ahead 36-29 and match their biggest lead.
Northridge went nearly 5½ minutes without scoring later in the third quarter, allowing Bakersfield to pull back within two points.
Northridge ultimately took a 42-38 lead into the fourth quarter.
Van Schaik matched her season high with 19 points and Taylor Caldwell finished with 16 points and nine rebounds for Bakersfield.