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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

Northridge Gets Best of Weber State This Time

Big Sky tournament: Matador defense holds down Arceneaux and Gill for 73-68 victory in first round.

March 09, 2000|VINCE KOWALICK | TIMES STAFF WRITER

MISSOULA, Mont. — Cal State Northridge brought its best game to the opening round of the Big Sky Conference tournament.

Weber State brought its best players--but little game.

Northridge, in a progressively overpowering performance, slowed Harold Arceneaux, the Big Sky's scoring leader, shut down sidekick Eddie Gill and advanced to the conference semifinals with a 73-68 victory over Weber State on Wednesday night before 3,522 at Adams Center.

The Matadors (19-9), who defeated Weber State in two of three meetings this season, play top-seeded Montana (17-10) in a semifinal Friday night. Northern Arizona (18-10) plays Eastern Washington (15-11) in the other semifinal.

The winner advances to the Big Sky championship game on Saturday night. The conference champion advances to the NCAA tournament.

"This is a little bit of redemption for us after [losing in the first round] last year," Coach Bobby Braswell of Northridge said. "Overall, this is a big win for the university."

Arceneaux, the Big Sky's most valuable player the last two seasons, and Gill, a senior guard, combined for 70 points in a 113-92 victory over Northridge at Weber State in January.

This time, Arceneaux scored 26 but was held to nine in the second half, including a meaningless layup with four seconds to play.

Gill scored four points and made one of 13 shots.

"You get two guys like that who can score a bunch and you're just fortunate to be able to keep them in check," Braswell said.

Forward Andre Larry, who did not play in the Matadors' loss at Weber State, scored 20 points, including four three-point baskets.

Larry rejoined the team last month after missing three games because of personal reasons, but he has been slow to return to form.

Braswell inserted Larry into the starting lineup against Weber State and the 6-foot-9 senior responded with 10 first-half points, including a dunk to give the Matadors their first lead, 19-17.

Markus Carr scored 23 points and Marco McCain had 11 for Northridge.

"This year, we have a lot of fire in us," Larry said. "We didn't want to go home early."

Fourth-seeded Weber State (18-10), defending conference champion, recorded a first-round upset of North Carolina in the NCAA tournament, thanks to a 36 points by Arceneaux.

Arceneaux, a 6-6 senior forward, scored 36 in the victory over Northridge this season. Gill, a senior guard, had 34.

Gill missed all eight of his three-point shots.

"We got them in foul trouble when we had them at home and their better players were out on the floor [Wednesday night]," Arceneaux said.

"I can't beat around the bush. They probably have more talent than any team in the league."

Braswell, who was ejected at Weber State, said the Matadors' strategy was to focus on Arceneaux.

"All week we called it Arceneaux awareness," Braswell said. "He got in some open areas and he hurt us. He's going to get his."

Carr, who made seven of eight shots including three of four from three-point range, handled the defensive work against Gill.

*

BIG SKY MEN'S TOURNAMENT

Wednesday's Scores

CS Northridge 73,

Weber State 68

N. Arizona 77,

Portland State 75

Friday's Games

E. Washington vs.

N. Arizona, 6 p.m.

CS Northridge vs.

Montana, 8:30 p.m.

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