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Millersville to Give CSUN a Basketball Litmus Test at Home

<i> Times Staff Writer </i>

National rankings in Division II basketball don’t come out until the middle of the month, but when they do, expect Millersville University (Pa.) to be listed somewhere in the Top 20.

Whether or where Northridge is ranked depends largely on the Matadors’ performance tonight in a nonconference game against Millersville in the CSUN gym.

The Marauders are 7-3, but 2 of the losses were to Alaska-Anchorage, which also has beaten Michigan, at one time ranked second in Division I. Millersville has won 6 in a row, including a 101-75 decision over Cal State Los Angeles on Wednesday.

Northridge (9-2) will be without forward Alan Fraser, who sustained an ankle injury Wednesday in the Matadors’ 92-78 victory over Cal Lutheran.

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CSUN Coach Pete Cassidy already was concerned about the Marauders’ height advantage, and that was before he knew the Matadors would be without a 6-foot, 6-inch starting forward. Phil Nevin, Millersville’s 6-11 center, is 3 inches taller than Todd Bowser, Northridge’s tallest player.

Nevin, a transfer from Maryland, averages 13 points and 12 rebounds a game. He is not the player Cassidy is most concerned about, however. That distinction goes to Tommy Gaines, a 6-6 forward who is averaging 21 points and 9 rebounds.

“He has about a 15- to 17-foot shooting range and is a great athlete,” Cassidy said of Gaines. “He posts up, turns around and jumps over people.”

Derrick Gathers, CSUN’s top scorer with an 18.5 average, likely will draw Gaines when the Matadors play man-to-man defense. Gathers also is a gifted athlete with great leaping ability. The problem is that he’s only 6-3.

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But even if Gaines is slowed--he scored only 8 against Cal State L. A.--there is guard Matt Harris to worry about. Harris scored 31 points Wednesday and made 10 of 15 3-point shots.

“They are a very difficult match-up for us,” Cassidy said. “I’m looking at it as a great test for us. They’re a big, strong, quick, experienced team.”

Northridge, which has played rather inconsistently against relatively weak teams, has won 3 in a row and 7 of 8. In their only game against a highly regarded Division II opponent, the Matadors defeated Cal State Sacramento, 100-98, in overtime on Dec. 28.


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