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Northridge Falls Short in a Wild Vegas Trip

Men's basketball: Heinle scores 32 but misses three-pointer at buzzer to leave Matadors with first loss, 70-69.


LAS VEGAS — No miracle this time for Cal State Northridge. But the Matadors made it close.

Jermaine Lewis' free throw with 3.1 seconds to play lifted Nevada Las Vegas to a 70-69 victory over the upset-minded Matadors before 11,123 Saturday night at Thomas & Mack Center.

Northridge (2-1), which made national headlines Tuesday with a 78-74 victory over UCLA at Pauley Pavilion, nearly pulled off a second shocker in as many games, but Brian Heinle's three-point shot at the buzzer fell short.

Heinle, a 6-foot-9 center, scored a game-high 32 points and led the Matadors' inside game while forward Jeff Parris spent most of the game on the bench in foul trouble.

Had Heinle connected, it would have given him a career high and might have earned Northridge some votes in the Associated Press Top 25 poll. Instead, the Matadors were left to stress positives.

"They gotta be feeling good about themselves," Northridge Coach Bobby Braswell said. "We had a chance to win this thing or send it into overtime, but we didn't. Our guys are taking it hard and I'm glad they are."

Parris, who scored a career-high 27 points against UCLA, had only seven points, all in the second half, and fouled out with 2:08 to play and the Rebels leading, 66-62.

Parris, who had four fouls, returned with a little more than seven minutes to play and UNLV (3-2) leading, 56-51. Northridge pared the deficit to 69-66 before Marco McCain's three-pointer evened the score with nine seconds to play.

Lewis, who had 14 points and was among four players who scored in double figures for UNLV, missed his first free throw in the final seconds and swished the second.

Dalron Johnson led UNLV with 18 points. Center Kaspars Kambala had 10.

Heinle gathered an inbounds pass with 2.2 seconds to play and released the ball in traffic.

"I got off the shot we wanted, it just didn't go in," Heinle said. "We wanted to come in and prove that it was no fluke against UCLA."

But Northridge was not the same team as it was against UCLA. At least, not without Parris.

Parris, a 6-foot-5 senior from Long Beach Jordan High, fouled out of 13 games last season, most among the Matadors. With officials expected to call games closer this season, Parris' physical style could be a concern.

Parris collected two fouls early and had no points in the first half.

"If they're going to call them like that, I guess I'll have to adjust," Parris said. "I'm not out there fouling people on purpose. That's just the way I always play."

Heinle also led Northridge with 11 rebounds. UNLV outrebounded Northridge, 47-46.

"We need to have Jeff on the floor," Heinle said. "We're a better team when we have him out there. He gets in foul trouble and we're going to have to deal with that."

Northridge appeared poised in the early going, capitalizing on 11 first-half turnovers by UNLV and holding the lead for most of the first half.

Kambala's inside basket over Heinle and ensuing free throw gave the Rebels their first lead, 21-20, with 7:18 to play in the half.

"I don't think they gave us anything unexpected," Kambala said. "Every time I had the ball, they had guys on me. We definitely didn't overlook them. They came in and gave us a game and we were ready for that."

Three-point baskets by Lewis, Dalron Johnson and Lafonte Johnson provided UNLV with the momentum to take a 37-30 halftime lead.

Lewis' basket from well behind the arc gave UNLV a 28-24 lead. Lafonte Johnson's shot just beat the shot clock to give UNLV a 37-28 lead with 1:20 to halftime.

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