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MARCH MADNESS / NCAA TOURNAMENT

Sorry, They're Not in Northridge Anymore

Midwest Regional: Kansas gets a big first-half run that finally wears down Matadors, 99-75.

March 17, 2001|VINCE KOWALICK | TIMES STAFF WRITER

DAYTON, Ohio — No more sneaking up on people for Cal State Northridge.

The Matadors' reputation preceded them to the NCAA tournament Friday, where ready and waiting Kansas displayed size, strength and some three-point shooting of its own in a 99-75 Midwest Regional victory before 13,133 at Dayton Arena.

Northridge (22-10), upset-minded in its first tournament appearance, wasn't about to be taken lightly by the Jayhawks (25-6), who were making their 12th consecutive NCAA appearance.

Not after the Matadors' 78-74 upset of UCLA in November. Not after Northridge rolled into the tournament with 10 victories in 11 games.

Not with the Jayhawks holding a decisive size advantage--which they used.

And not with Kansas going on a 17-0 run to end the first half.

Fourth-seeded Kansas took control of the paint and the boards while taking No. 13 Northridge out of its inside-outside blend that led them to unprecedented success in their 11th season in Division I.

"Cal State Northridge is a heck of a basketball team," said guard Jeff Boschee, one of four Kansas players in double figures. "But we came out and did the things we were supposed to do."

Kansas outrebounded Northridge, 46-25, thanks to a frontcourt that combined for 61 points and 28 rebounds.

Forward Nick Collison had 23 points and 11 rebounds, and forward Kenny Gregory had 18 points and 11 rebounds. Center Drew Gooden added 20 points and 7-foot-1 backup center Eric Chenowith had eight rebounds.

Kansas' big men teamed to neutralize 6-9 center Brian Heinle, Northridge's scoring and rebounding leader, while forcing the Matadors into a three-point attack that kept them in the game in the first half.

"We knew he was a shooter," Collison said of Heinle. "We just did our best to be straight up with him and make him score over us."

In the end, the Matadors knew they were overmatched.

"We played against a really good basketball team," Northridge Coach Bobby Braswell said. "We got beat down and hurt on the inside. They kind of had their way with us. Once they softened us up inside, it hurt us on the outside."

What hurt most was the 17-0 run in the final four minutes of the first half that erased a 37-35 Northridge lead and all but ended the Matadors' dream season.

Heinle, the Big Sky Conference's player of the year, was on the bench for the final seven minutes of the half after picking up his second foul.

Heinle had only four points, making one of five shots, in the first half. He finished with 13 points and two rebounds.

"They have three great players and they play smart and they just keep coming at you," Heinle said. "We knew what they were going to do. They came out and did a good job on the inside."

Kansas scored 46 points in the lane to the Matadors' 29. The Jayhawks' 20 second-chance points summed up the contest.

"It was real wide open in the middle," Collison said. "We did a good job of looking for it."

Defensively, Heinle was the focus, Kansas Coach Roy Williams said.

"Heinle was the one we felt we had to aim our defense at," Williams said. "He has such a high shooting percentage from the outside."

The Jayhawks were more accurate than Northridge from behind the arc too.

Boschee was four of eight from three-point range. Kansas was nine of 18 on three-pointers, while Northridge was 13 of 30.

Three-point shooting allowed Northridge to rally from a 10-2 deficit and take a slim lead on four occasions in the first half.

But the 17-0 run changed everything.

"That's the way great Kansas basketball should be played," Williams said. "We knew quite a lot about Northridge because of my friendship with Bobby Braswell. We were able to get some information on them."

Heinle and guards Carl Holmes, Marco McCain and John Burrell all connected from three-point range during a fast-paced first half. Carr's two free throws pulled Northridge even, 26-26, and the Matadors took their first lead, 27-26, on a free throw by Heinle with 8:04 left in the half.

From there, the lead changed hands six times before Kansas clamped down.

"We just did a good job of moving the ball," Collison said. "We did a good job of getting back and guarding them. That's what we've done all year."

Northridge, which tied a school record with 22 victories, thrived on the ability to position Heinle inside and outside. Among the Matadors' best three-point shooters, Heinle was three of eight from behind the arc. But he was four of 17 shooting overall.

"I was trying to assert myself in the second half," Heinle said. "I was kind of tentative in the first half and I got a couple of fouls."

Reserve forward Jeff Parris, a 6-5 senior and Northridge's most physical player, provided a spark by muscling inside for most of his team-high 18 points.

Parris, instrumental in the victory over UCLA, also led the Matadors with 10 rebounds. Burrell had 16 points. Holmes had 12 points, all on three-pointers.

Parris' inside basket moved Northridge to within 75-67 with 8:21 to play. Gooden countered on the next possession with a dunk.

Parris scored on the Matadors' next possession off an offensive rebound, but Gooden answered immediately with an inside basket.

*

ERIC SONDHEIMER

With its two tallest players on the bench because of foul trouble, Northridge couldn't match up against Kansas' big men. W3

ARIZONA ROLLS

The Wildcats, who were knocked out as a second-seeded team in 1993, had no trouble against Eastern Illinois. W2

ALSO

A NEW ERA

In 1957, Mississippi wouldn't play against Stanley Hill's Iona team because he was black, but now he is honored. A1

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