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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS | NOTEBOOK / NORTHRIDGE
vs. LONG BEACH STATE

For Injured Holmes, It Was Pointless to Continue

November 15, 1998|STEVE HENSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

LONG BEACH — Not very often can foul trouble be a blessing, but the two whistles Carl Holmes picked up in three minutes Saturday might have been.

Holmes, a Cal State Northridge guard who was Big Sky Conference freshman of the year last season, was the last in a 10-player rotation to get into the game against Long Beach State, entering midway through the first half.

It was foul, foul, grimace and back to the bench for Holmes, who missed his only shot and only free throw.

But a knee injury that has nagged him for two weeks cropped up again, and he did not return.

X-rays last week were negative and he played well in an exhibition Tuesday.

"We decided to be cautious," Coach Bobby Braswell said. "He is nursing it. It might be tendinitis. There was no reason to take a chance."

Not when nine other Northridge players contributed to a runaway 83-65 victory at the Pyramid.

*

Holmes' quick exit after he picked up two fouls was characteristic of Braswell. Any player with two fouls in the first half usually sits until after intermission.

Forward Rico Harris, a 6-foot-9 transfer expected to lead Northridge in scoring and rebounding, was benched three minutes into his debut because he had two fouls.

Harris did not return until the second half. He helped Northridge turn a close game into a rout by contributing all of his seven rebounds and seven of his nine points after halftime.

"I hate that rule of [Braswell's]," Harris said. "But with our depth, we can afford to. It teaches you to stay out of foul trouble."

The playing time of point guard Jason Crowe also was curbed because of early foul trouble. Freshman Markus Carr stepped in and ran the offense without a hitch.

Derrick Higgins, playing for the first time since a foot injury sidelined him in the fifth game last season, was tentative offensively but solid defensively.

Higgins, a senior guard awarded a medical redshirt, made only three of 10 shots and repeatedly passed up shot opportunities, forcing passes instead.

But he had four steals and helped hold guard Ramel Lloyd of Long Beach to six-of-14 shooting.

After missing his only two shots in the first half, he made his first two in the second half, including a dunk off an assist by Crowe to finish a fast break and give Northridge a 50-44 lead. The basket triggered a 21-8 run.

*

In Braswell's three seasons, it was the first time Northridge won a road game that included a financial guarantee. Northridge was paid $10,000.

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