“I think this was a step in the right direction. Everyone was into what we had to do,” said Calvin Chitwood, who scored 16 points and had 13 rebounds. “We played together defensively and pounded the ball inside.” CSUN led by as much as 16 in the first half, highlighted by a pair of crowd-pleasing alley-oop dunks. Jayme Miller (16 points) came through with the first, slamming home a tomahawk-style dunk midway through the half. Chitwood followed with an equally powerful slam off an above-the-rim pass to make it 41-25 with two minutes left before halftime. “We were just having fun, doing what we were doing,” Miller said. CSUN dominated inside, outscoring UC Riverside (5-18, 1-8) 54-12 in the paint and holding a 44-31 rebounding advantage. “I was pleased,” said coach Bobby Braswell, who missed two practices because of strep throat and was still under the weather Thursday. “They showed great leadership, and that’s very satisfying as a coach. It was a good effort.” Northridge forced 16 turnovers – 12 in the first half – and shot 56.3 percent, a good sign for a team that’s been struggling offensively. UC Riverside didn’t go away easily, cutting the lead to six on Henrik Thompson’s 3-pointer five minutes into the second half. This was just what slumping Cal State Northridge needed, an easy 89-69 Big West men’s basketball victory Thursday over UCRiverside to break a four-game losing steak in front of 1,028 at the Matadome. The losing skid was North- ridge’s longest since 2003-04. With seven games remaining in the regular season, Northridge (11-12, 4-6) still has a chance to find itself before the conference tournament beginning March 7. But Northridge pulled away over the next five minutes, extending the lead to 62-49 on Chitwood’s short jumper over ex-Burroughs of Burbank center Sean Anderson. UC Riverside’s Larry Cunningham scored 24 points, and Chris Johnson added 19. Northridge’s Rob Haynes scored 13, and Jonathan Heard added 12 points and seven assists. Northridge plays host to Cal State Fullerton (17-5, 7-3) at 7:05p.m. Saturday. [email protected] (661) 257-5218 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!