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Northridge Rides Carr to Title, 86-84

Men's basketball: His shot with two seconds left floors Eastern Washington and Matadors clinch regular-season title.

March 02, 2001|VINCE KOWALICK | TIMES STAFF WRITER

CHENEY, Wash. — This time, Markus Carr made the basket.

And Cal State Northridge made good on Coach Bobby Braswell's prediction.

Carr's off-balance 17-foot jump shot with 2.2 seconds to play lifted Northridge to an 86-84 victory over Eastern Washington before 2,971 Thursday night at Reese Court, giving the Matadors their first Big Sky Conference regular-season title and the right to host the conference tournament next week.

In the final seconds of a see-saw contest, Carr dribbled the length of the court before pulling up and shooting over Jamal Jones to the left of the lane.

The basket triggered an eruption from the Northridge bench, as well as a few memories for Carr.

Last season, Carr's layup with two seconds to play in regulation against Northern Arizona in the Big Sky tournament final was unsuccessful and the Matadors lost in overtime, 85-81.

"When it left my hand, everything was in slow motion," said Carr, a junior point guard. "I was hoping it wouldn't fall short, and it didn't."

Northridge (19-9, 12-3 in the Big Sky) will host the six-team Big Sky tournament Thursday through Saturday, with the winner advancing to the NCAA tournament.

Of course, Braswell predicted as much last week, announcing to the Northridge crowd the Matadors would "be back" to host the tournament.

After the game, an emotional Braswell deflected questions about his remark.

"Don't talk about me," Braswell said. "This is about the guys. They have been through so much. The way it ended [Thursday night], it just couldn't have been better.

"For Markus Carr to get a chance to win a league championship for us. . . . I am just the happiest man in the world."

The game featured 10 lead changes before Eastern Washington (15-10, 10-5), trying for a season-sweep of Northridge, pulled even, 84-84, on Aaron Olson's three-pointer from the corner with 16.6 seconds left.

From there, Carr dribbled slowly, then rapidly toward the winning basket.

"The play was designed and it was the same play as last year," Carr said. "It was in my mind, thoughts of last year. I just wanted to prove to myself that I could do it."

Northridge beat the Eagles for the first time in six games and the first time at Reese Court since 1997.

It also was far from typical for the Matadors.

For once, forward Jeff Parris, a 6-foot-5 physical presence, avoided foul trouble, while many of his teammates didn't.

Center Brian Heinle, the Big Sky's leading scorer, spent nine minutes on the bench in the second half after picking up his fourth foul.

Heinle, who played a season-low 22 minutes, returned with six minutes to play and scored seven of his 15 points down the stretch.

Guard John Burrell, who came off the bench to score nine points, fouled out with three minutes left and Heinle, Lionel Benjamin, Carl Holmes and Marco McCain played with four fouls in the second half.

"We all had four fouls," Holmes said. "But we weren't going to come out. The seniors on this team were not going to let us lose."

Parris, who led the nation with 13 disqualifications last season, picked up his second foul in the final minutes. He finished with 15 points and nine rebounds.

Parris helped defend forward Chris White, who scored 30 points, thanks largely to Heinle's absence.

"I was angry sitting on the bench, not being able to do anything," Heinle said. "I just tried to cheer the guys on. I was fortunate to be able to get back in the game."

Heinle reentered with 6:20 to play and Eastern Washington ahead, 72-68, but his basket and free throw cut the margin to 72-71.

Eastern Washington took its last lead, 81-80, on two free throws by White, a 6-9 forward. But Heinle answered with a bank shot over White.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

BIG SKY STANDINGS

MEN'S BASKETBALL

Conference Season

*--*

School W L GB W L CS Northridge 12 3 -- 19 9 E. Washington 10 5 2 15 10 Idaho State 9 6 3 13 13 N. Arizona 8 7 4 14 12 Weber State 8 7 4 14 12 Montana State 7 8 5 15 13 Portland State 6 9 6 9 17 Montana 6 10 6 1/2 11 16 Sacramento 2 13 10 5 21

*--*

*

Thursday's results

CS Northridge 86, Eastern Washington 84

Idaho State 78, Weber State 73

Montana 84, CS Sacramento 67

Portland State 68, Northern Arizona 64

*

Today's game

Northern Arizona at Eastern Washington

*

Saturday's games

CS Sacramento at Idaho State

Weber State at Montana State

CS Northridge at Portland State

*

* A power failure wiped out the Northridge women's game against Eastern Washington. D16

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