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'Runner men collapse late, suffer crucial loss to CSUN

With a shot at the No. 2 seed at the Big West Tournament within its reach, a poor defensive effort Saturday may put Cal State Bakersfield in a perilous position going forward.

Cal State Northridge outscored the Roadrunners 39-26 over the last 13:51 and one night after losing by 26, stunned CSUB 90-87 in the team's regular season final at the Icardo Center Saturday night.

After Taze Moore, who scored a career-high 28 points, hit a free throw, CSUB looked to have taken control of what had been a back-and-forth game in the first half, pulling ahead 61-51.

But the Matadors, who shot over 62 percent from the field, responded with a 12-2 run and thwarted every attempt by the Roadrunners to pull away. They took the lead for good on a pair of Alex Merkviladze free throws with under three minutes to play. CSUN finished with a 36-15 advantage in free throw attempts.

Merkviladze finished with 24 points, one behind Big West leading scorer TJ Starks.

The Roadrunners, who fell behind by seven with under a minute to play, had a desperation attempt to tie the game after two missed free throws in the final seconds, but De'Monte Buckingham's heave clanged off the top of the backboard.

Despite having five players finish in double figures, the Roadrunners suffered their third loss of the year in a game where they scored at least 84 points.

Now at 9-7, they can finish anywhere from third to sixth in the final Big West standings.

Cal State Bakersfield is the only team in the conference that won't play next weekend, the final weekend of the regular season.