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MATADORS HOLD OFF PESKY 'RABBITS.

Byline: GERRY GITTELSON Staff Writer

With South Dakota State's only tall player out with an injury and its top scorer hobbling on a bad hip Sunday, the beleaguered Jackrabbits probably hung around a bit longer than they should have in a 72-61 nonconference men's basketball loss to Cal State Northridge in front of a crowd of 792 at the Matadome.

South Dakota State (4-14) came in with seven of its losses by 15 points or more but fared better than expected against the Matadors (10-8), who've now won four of five.

``We let our guard down a little and got complacent and satisfied,'' Northridge forward Jonathan Heard said. ``We've got to give respect and not quit. We've got to learn how to finish because every Division I team plays hard.''

It's the mark of a young team, Northridge coach Bobby Braswell said.

``Oh, (South Dakota State) stuck around a whole lot longer than expected,'' he said. ``We don't play our best depending on the level of competition. ... We've got to play better.''

The good news was the Matadors scored 29 points off 21 turnovers -- committing just 10 turnovers themselves.

``That's how we have to play, easy buckets off turnovers,'' Braswell said.

Calvin Chitwood scored 21 points with six rebounds. Heard, the reigning Big West Player of the Week, added 18, including a thunderous dunk to forge a five-point lead near the end of the first half.

South Dakota's Matt Caldwell, the team's leading scorer who limped around after suffering a hip pointer two days ago, scored 14 points in 36 minutes. Andy Kleinjan added 12 points, and Kai Williams scored 11.

The lead was just two at halftime. An 18-2 run to begin the second half gave Northridge a 52-34 lead on Chitwood's jumper. The Matadors led by as many as 19 in the second half, but South Dakota chipped away and was never down by more than 12 over the final four minutes.

The victory gave Northridge a 7-1 home record. The Matadors will play at UC Santa Barbara on Thursday.

``We've got to keep taking the home games, and we've got to steal a few on the road,'' Braswell said.

gerry.gittelson@dailynews.com

(661) 257-5218

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Photo:

Cal State Northridge's Calvin Chitwood drives around North Dakota State's Michael Loney in Sunday's Matadors victory.

Edna T. Simpson/Daily News
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jan 22, 2007
Words:393
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