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MATADORS FIND FANS CSUN RECEIVES RAUCOUS SUPPORT CSUN 75, POMONA 50.

Byline: Jill Painter Staff Writer

They finally had a noteworthy performance from their sixth man.

So they didn't get any points, rebounds or crowd-pleasing dunks. It wasn't about the statistics. It was about the enthusiasm, energy and never-ending support.

Yes, the crowd finally answered Cal State Northridge's call. The Matadors felt they didn't deserve to play in front of empty seats anymore.

It wasn't a sellout - and with the Northridge gym's capacity of 1,600, it wouldn't have been a big deal anyway. But the crowd of 1,381, bolstered by a packed student side, was out in full force Tuesday night.

Students were curious. And why not? They wanted to see what this CSUN team - which upset UCLA at Pauley Pavilion last week - was all about.

CSUN didn't disappoint its new fan base as it routed Cal Poly Pomona 75-50.

``Not only were there butts in the seats, they were yelling and screaming,'' CSUN coach Bobby Braswell said.

The Matadors (3-1), coming off a one-point loss against UNLV at the Thomas & Mack Center on Saturday, dominated offensively and defensively. The Broncos (2-1), a Division II program, were no match for the Matadors. Fans never let them forget it, either.

On the Broncos' first possession, the fans started defensive chants. They rode the refs. They heckled Pomona players. They started a fake clock countdown and got the Broncos to force a quick shot, which was promptly blocked by center Brian Heinle, who scored a game-high 21 points and added nine rebounds.

``They were really into it,'' junior Markus Carr said. ``I can't remember the last time I heard our crowd boo the other team. Actually, I don't think I've ever heard it.''

Fans did their job. And so did the Matadors, who led 38-18 by halftime.

After shooting just 2 of 17 3-pointers against the Rebels, CSUN made 7 of 14. Carl Holmes, who had 10 points and 10 rebounds, was wide open on the left baseline and nailed a 3-pointer on an assist from Carr. After Pomona missed a shot on the other end, John Burrell added a 3-pointer. Then Heinle swished a shot from behind the top of the arc with 13:06 left, giving CSUN a 30-point lead at 59-29. The crowd, which came to its feet, went wild.

CSUN shot 56 percent from the field, a dramatic improvement from Saturday's game at UNLV, in which it made just 35 percent. They weren't as productive at the foul line, making just 8 of 22 shots.

Fans applauded every basket. They ridiculed every Pomona mistake. Fans got their money's worth. They witnessed an endless supply of dunks from Heinle and Jeff Parris. CSUN had 24 turnovers, many of which resulted from trying to entertain the crowd with behind-the-back passes and alley-oops. And Parris, who had 11 points and six rebounds, was in foul trouble again. He had four fouls in 22 minutes.

But it didn't matter.

The Matadors' historic 78-74 victory over the Bruins put fans in the seats. And Braswell, who's longed for support since 1996, couldn't have been happier.

``It was for the players, the players, the players,'' Braswell said. ``I'm thankful to God tonight that people showed up.''

CAPTION(S):

photo

Photo: CSUN's Jeff Parris pulls down a rebound against Cal Poly Pomona's Jimmy Landry.

John Kennedy/Staff Photographer
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Nov 29, 2000
Words:554
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