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Northridge Doesn't Share in Big Sky Pie

March 12, 1997

No Cal State Northridge players were selected to the All-Big Sky Conference basketball team, released Tuesday, which was selected by coaches before the tournament.

Northridge guard Derrick Higgins and forward Keith Higgins were honorable mention selections.

All 11 first-team players came from the top five teams in the regular-season standings. Northridge finished sixth.

"My feeling, as usual, this is a conference that is used to doing things a certain way," Northridge Coach Bobby Braswell said. "Hopefully we can break down some of this stuff."

Player of the year was point guard Charles Thomas of Northern Arizona, who played in only 7 1/2 conference games before being injured. Andrew Mavis of Northern Arizona was top newcomer and Northern Arizona's Ross Land and Weber State's Ryan Jama shared the outstanding freshman award.

On the money: Cal State Northridge did not miss out on a financial windfall when its basketball team narrowly missed qualifying for the NCAA tournament.

The Big Sky Conference, in an effort to maintain parity among its schools, divides all postseason money equally, regardless of which team goes to the NCAA tournament.

So Northridge will wind up with about $56,000 from the Big Sky and NCAA tournaments, the same as Sacramento State, which finished last and didn't even make the conference tournament.

Conference calls: The blinking "F" on Braswell's answering machine was a symbol of what his Northridge team had accomplished.

Braswell's voice mailbox was full, no doubt with messages from his friends across the country calling to congratulate him for bringing the Matadors to the brink of the tournament.

"I have not even been able to answer one call yet," Braswell said. "It has been more than I ever imagined."

When some of the players were walking across to street to return to their residence hall on Sunday, a few carloads of people yelled "Way to go Northridge."

"It's just been amazing," Braswell said.

Other items of interest from Cal State Northridge's basketball season:

* When the Matadors equaled Montana with 36 points in the second half of the Big Sky Conference championship game, it broke a string of 11 consecutive games in which the Matadors outscored opponents in the second half. Northridge outscored its opponent in the second half 20 times in 29 games.

* The Matadors did not have a player miss a game because of an injury all season.

* Guard Derrick Higgins averaged 16.1 points in the final eight games to take the team lead in scoring with an 11.6-point average, just ahead of Gerald Rhoden's 11.4. Higgins edged his brother, Keith, by one steal, 74-73, for the team lead and school single-season record. Keith originally was credited with the steal and layup that gave the Matadors their final lead in their upset of Northern Arizona on Friday night, but reporters noticed the mistake and it was changed to Derrick's steal and basket.

* The Matadors set a dubious school record--most fouls. Northridge was called for 670 fouls, surpassing the record of 637 set in 1984-85. It might be a good sign because 1984-85 was the last year Northridge won 20 games.

* Northridge finished with six victories on an opponents' court, excluding neutral sites. That's one more than the Matadors had in the previous three seasons combined.

Piercing: The Ventura College men's tennis team didn't shock the world, but it certainly surprised Coach Nelson Emery when it dealt Pierce its first Western State Conference setback in school history earlier this week.

Pierce has won seven consecutive conference titles.

Ventura, a traditionally mediocre program, had a losing record last year but has a 9-0 record this season.

Pierce had not lost a WSC match since joining the conference. The upset was keyed by Todd Johnson's 6-3, 6-7 (7-4), 6-4 victory over Jason Weiss at No. 1 singles.

Aloha Northridge: Bobby Singh, a starting offensive lineman last season at Hawaii, is transferring to Northridge.

Singh, a 6-3, 305-pound guard, played two seasons with the Rainbows. He will face his former teammates when Northridge plays at Hawaii on Sept. 6.

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