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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

Matador Sky Looks Clearer

Men's basketball: In a possible preview of first-round tournament game, Northridge downs Weber State, 76-62.

March 02, 2000|VINCE KOWALICK | TIMES STAFF WRITER

NORTHRIDGE — In what might have been a Big Sky Conference tournament preview, Cal State Northridge turned in one of its best performances of the season by routing Weber State, 76-62, before 1,401 on Wednesday night at the Matadome.

Northridge (17-9, 9-6 in conference play) never trailed, taking a 9-0 lead and maintaining a double-digit lead throughout most of the game. The Matadors moved into a fourth-place tie with Weber State (17-9, 9-6) with one game to play.

The Matadors evened the score with the Wildcats, who routed Northridge, 113-92, in January at Weber State. As the Big Sky's fourth- and fifth-place teams, Northridge and Weber State would meet in a first-round game when the Big Sky tournament begins next week.

"There's a good chance we will play Weber State in the first round," Coach Bobby Braswell of Northridge said. "I told the guys that it was important for us to play well."

The Matadors did, shooting 53.2% (33 of 62) and spreading the shots among four players who carried the scoring load. Jeff Parris scored 17 points and Brian Heinle had 16. Markus Carr and Marco McCain each had 13.

"That was the best we've shot from the floor in a long time," Braswell said.

"When we play hard, we can be a pretty good basketball team. And we played hard for 40 minutes."

The Matadors held forward Harold Arceneaux reasonably in check. Arceneaux, arguably the Big Sky's best player, scored 27 points--17 in the second half after the game was decided.

"Defense," Braswell said. "We defended well. It pretty much was a team effort on Arceneaux. He got away from us a few times, but we defended him as well as we could."

Guard Eddie Gill had 21 points, but only four other Weber State players scored, none in double figures.

Coach Joe Cravens criticized the Wildcats' lack of team effort.

"Harold and Eddie played like Harold and Eddie," Cravens said. "But two guys, I don't care how good they are, aren't going to beat any five guys. I had trouble finding anyone who had ambition enough to play with them."

Northridge held a 41-23 halftime lead and withstood several Weber State attempts to rally in the second half.

The Wildcats pulled to within 64-53 on a layup by Gill with 5:58 left. But Northridge answered on a three-pointer by Marco McCain, his third of the game to regain the momentum.

Carr had 10 assists, six rebounds and several flashy layups.

"We wanted to keep the momentum going from the other night [against Portland State] and just play Northridge basketball," Carr said.

"If we do that, we know everything will take care of itself."

Northridge was hot from the field in the first half, sinking 17 of 31 shots (54.8%), including five of 12 from three-point range.

McCain made two three-pointers in the first half. Parris, Heinle and Carr each made one.

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