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COLLEGE BASKETBALL / SOUTHLAND ROUNDUP

Northridge Wins Easily to Set Up Showdown

February 25, 2001|VINCE KOWALICK | From Staff Reports

It should be quite a climax to the Big Sky Conference race.

Cal State Northridge saw to that Saturday night. So did Bobby Braswell, the Matadors' coach.

Northridge (18-9, 11-3 in the Big Sky) maintained its one-game hold on first place with an 85-65 rout of Montana State before an energetic 1,713 at Northridge.

Next up for Northridge? A showdown Thursday at Eastern Washington (15-9, 10-4), a game behind the Matadors with two games to play, and an 88-75 winner last month at Northridge.

A win, and Northridge will clinch its first Big Sky regular-season title and the right to host the six-team conference tournament March 8-10.

A tall order, perhaps, considering Northridge has not won at Eastern Washington in four years. But one the Matadors will deliver. At least, according to their coach.

Moments after the final buzzer, Braswell grabbed the courtside microphone and offered a prediction. "And we will be back here in a couple of weeks," he said.

Center Brian Heinle notched his 16th double-double with 22 points and 10 rebounds. Forward Lionel Benjamin, in his third consecutive start, had a career-high 15 points. Guard Markus Carr tied his own school record with 15 assists.

The Matadors held off a brief rally by the Bobcats (15-13, 7-8) late in the first half, and led from start to finish for the second consecutive game.

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