Heinle helps Matadors wrap up first NCAA berth
Updated: Sunday March 11, 2001 3:07 AM
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Bobby Braswell has transformed Cal State Northridge into an NCAA Tournament qualifier.
Brian Heinle scored 21 points as Cal State Northridge beat Eastern Washington 73-58 Saturday night in the Big Sky Conference championship game and earned its first NCAA Tournament berth.
"What a very special night this is at Northridge," said Braswell, who in 1996 inherited a program that had endured seven straight losing seasons. "The best is yet to come."
Braswell has guided Northridge (22-9) to consecutive 20-win seasons and the school's first Big Sky Conference tournament and regular-season championship. Northridge also tied the school record for victories in a season.
"We just took care of business against them," said Heinle, the tournament MVP, as the Matadors avenged a pair of home losses against Eastern Washington.
"We're on a mission and I feel bad for whoever we're going to play in the first round of March Madness."
Carl Holmes' layup with 2:57 left capped an 13-7 run that put the Matadors ahead for good at 65-48. Holmes finished 11 points.
Markus Carr had 13 points and nine assists for the Matadors, who forced 18 turnovers and shot 53 percent from the field.
Carr, who had eight assists in the first half, ignited the Matadors with several dazzling passes, including a toss off a steal to a streaking Holmes, who capped an 8-2 run with a layup to close the half, giving Northridge a 42-28 lead.
Carr, the nation's leader in assists, assisted on Northridge's first 12 points of the game.
One of the recipients was Heinle, scoring 15 of his 21 points in the first 20 minutes, on a layup that capped an 8-0 run, extending the Matadors' advantage to 32-21 with 4:12 left.
Jamal Jones and Alvin Snow each contributed 12 points for Eastern Washington (17-11). Chris White finished with 10 points and eight rebounds.
Eastern Washington, trailing by nine early, went on a 7-1 spurt to cut the deficit to 22-19 after a layup by Eddie Lincoln.
The Eagles, who outrebounded the Matadors 34-29, had 21 rebounds at halftime, 10 coming on the offensive end.
Braswell has taken Northridge, who will join the Big West Conference next year, to the Big Sky championship game three times in the team's five years in the conference.
"I can remember some very long days and long nights. Sleepless nights for me and all for the wrong reasons and for the struggles our school has had," Braswell said. "This is just a wonderful, wonderful night for our basketball program."