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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

Matadors See Red, Black Out Weber State

Men's basketball: Northridge makes 11 of first 13 shots, builds 33-point lead and coasts to a 91-74 victory.

March 10, 2001|VINCE KOWALICK | TIMES STAFF WRITER

NORTHRIDGE — Fired-up Cal State Northridge moved to within a victory of its first NCAA tournament appearance Friday night, blowing out Weber State, 91-74, in a Big Sky Conference tournament semifinal before 1,420 at Northridge.

The Matadors (21-9), the Big Sky's regular-season champion and tournament hosts for the first time, bolted from their locker room to the delight of a crowd filled with red-and-black shirts, the school's colors.

"The crowd was great," said Coach Bobby Braswell. "I felt like I was at Duke or something. I almost started to cry when I went out there."

Soon, Weber State was black and blue.

Northridge made 11 of its first 13 shots and jumped to a 22-9 lead. Center Brian Heinle's short jump shot in the opening minute gave the Matadors a 2-0 lead and the game grew more lopsided from there.

"I think we were just ready to get back on the court," Heinle said. "It's been since [last] Saturday since we played. We wanted to play against somebody besides ourselves."

Northridge built a 53-32 halftime advantage and led by 33 points during the second half.

Weber State (15-14) cut the deficit to 16 points in the second half.

Northridge plays Eastern Washington (17-10), a 58-53 winner over Northern Arizona, for the tournament championship today at 6 p.m.

The game will be televised by ESPN 2.

The winner advances to the NCAA tournament.

Northridge's 21 victories are the most since the program moved to Division I in 1990. The Matadors were 20-10 last season, losing to Northern Arizona in overtime, 85-81, in the Big Sky tournament final.

Northridge won a school-record 22 games in 1977-78.

The Wildcats hurt their cause with 13 first-half turnovers, including five in the first six minutes. Heinle and point guard Markus Carr each had two of the Matadors' seven steals in the first half.

"We've had a tendency to wait until the second half to get things going, but we played much better defense and we picked up our intensity," Carr said.

Weber State called timeout twice in the early minutes, both times after the Matadors ignited the crowd with fast-break points off turnovers. But the timeouts did no good.

Forward Jeff Parris, a 6-foot-5 senior and Northridge's most physical player, played only one minute in the first half after picking up two early fouls. He spent the final 15 minutes of the half on the bench.

Parris returned early in the second half and quickly displayed his trademark style of muscling inside. His authoritative dunk gave the Matadors a 67-39 lead.

Moments later, Parris disdained the dunk on a short breakaway, settling for a layup instead that gave Northridge a 69-39 lead.

Marco McCain's three-pointer moments later gave the Matadors a 72-39 lead.

Heinle scored 26 points for Northridge. Marco McCain had 16 points, Carl Holmes added 13 and John Burrell scored 10.

Jermaine Boyette scored 29 points for Weber State.

Eastern Washington has handed Northridge its only home losses each of the last two seasons.

The Eagles won, 88-75, at Northridge in January and posted a 70-68 victory at the Matadome last season.

Northridge is 24-2 at home the last two seasons.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

BIG SKY CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT

FRIDAY'S RESULTS

Semifinals

Eastern Washington: 58

Northern Arizona: 53

* Top scorers:

14--Jamal Jones, E. Wash.

16--Cory Schwab, N. Ariz.

Cal State Northridge: 91

Weber State: 74

* Top scorers:

26--Brian Heinle, CSUN

29--J. Boyette, Weber State

CHAMPIONSHIP

Today, 6:05 p.m.

Televised on ESPN2

Cal State Northridge vs.

Eastern Washington

* Based on the last two weeks, it might be surprising to hear what happened Friday night at Cal State Northridge's cozy Matadome gymnasium . . . nothing but basketball. D6

* Friday's box scores on D6

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