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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

Northridge Stays Focused on Easy Work at Home

Men's basketball: Matadors rout Sacramento, 81-57, in regular-season finale.

March 05, 2000|VINCE KOWALICK | TIMES STAFF WRITER

NORTHRIDGE — While the game with the biggest impact on its playoff fortunes was taking place more than 1,000 miles to the north, Cal State Northridge took care of business in its backyard, routing Cal State Sacramento, 81-57, in a Big Sky Conference men's basketball game before 1,398 on Saturday night at the Matadome.

Northridge (18-9, 10-6 in conference play), shaking off lethargy against a lowly opponent in its regular-season finale, outdistanced Sacramento (9-18, 3-13) in the second half en route to a school-record 18th victory in its 10th season in Division I. The Matadors finished 12-1 at home.

The outcome of the game was meaningless, considering Northridge already had clinched fifth place in the Big Sky, as well as a first-round matchup against Weber State (18-9) in the conference tournament.

The site of the Big Sky tournament was determined by Montana's 77-75 victory Saturday night at Eastern Washington. Montana and Eastern Washington finished tied for first place each with a 12-4 conference record, but the Grizzlies earned the right to host the tournament because they swept Eastern Washington in two meetings.

Northridge, winner of three in a row, opens the tournament Thursday against Weber State. The winner of the six-team tournament receives a berth in the NCAA tournament.

"The point is, we have to feel good about going into the tournament at 18-9 and having a three-game winning streak," Coach Bobby Braswell of Northridge said. "With what this team has done this [season], I'm very pleased. The bottom line is, right now it doesn't matter what your record is. You're going to have six hungry teams next week."

Forward Jeff Parris, among three Northridge seniors honored before the game, turned in one of his best performances with 23 points and 10 rebounds. Parris, whose physical style of play usually gets him in foul trouble, muscled inside for most of his points but finished with only two fouls.

"Hopefully, we can carry this momentum into the tournament," Parris said.

Andre Larry had 16 points and Brian Heinle had 14 for Northridge.

The Matadors led, 31-27, at halftime, and opened the second half with a 20-2 run. Sacramento, led by Ricky Glenn, who had 19 points, closed to within 59-53 with 7:00 to play.

Northridge ended the drama by scoring 18 consecutive points during a run that included authoritative dunks by Parris, Larry and Markus Carr.

"In the first half, we came out a little bit cocky," Larry said. "It's Sac State, it's [senior] night. . . . We had a lot of [stuff] on our minds and it wasn't good."

Northridge split its two games against Weber State, which defeated the Matadors, 113-92, in January at Weber State. Northridge routed the Wildcats, 76-62, on Wednesday at Northridge.

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