Long Beach St. Left Breathless by CSUN, 83-65
Bobby Braswell used to tell recruits about the Pyramid when the Long Beach State venue was only a concept.
But until Saturday, Braswell, a 49er assistant from 1989-92, never coached in the building, which opened in 1994.
It was worth the wait. Braswell’s Cal State Northridge Matadors ran Long Beach State ragged, posting an 83-65 season-opening victory before 2,322.
“When I was here we talked about this facility like it was a dream,” he said. “I feel like I did a little bit to make it come true and it felt good to be back.”
Homecoming also was sweet for forward Jeffrey Parris of Northridge. The former Long Beach Jordan player scored 18 points on eight-of-10 shooting.
Parris was one of seven Northridge players with at least eight points and one of nine who played more than 10 minutes. The Matadors’ depth wore down Long Beach, which basically used a six-man rotation.
“Some of our guys got tired at the end,” said Wayne Morgan, the Long Beach coach. “They absolutely outperformed us.”
Northridge had a nine-point halftime lead, but Long Beach pulled to within 46-44 on D’Cean Bryant’s dunk four minutes into the second half. However, Bryant was hit with a technical foul for taunting Andre Larry after the shot. Rico Harris made both free throws and nine minutes later Northridge led by 17.
“The technical took a lot of steam out of us,” Morgan said. “That was bad judgment on [Bryant’s] part.”
The euphoria might be short-lived because Northridge visits No. 9 Tennessee on Tuesday but the victory was enjoyed thoroughly.
“We outshot and outrebounded a team on the road,” said Jason Crowe, a junior point guard. “A lot of guys contributed. It was a great way to start.”
Northridge outshot the 49ers, 52.5% to 44.6%, and held a 38-30 rebounding advantage. All that despite a subpar performance from Harris, the touted transfer from L.A. City College. The 6-foot-9 forward had all but two of his nine points and all seven of his rebounds in the second half.
Harris picked up two fouls in the first three minutes and Braswell held him out until the second half. Crowe also picked up two early fouls and played only 18 minutes, scoring three points and getting six assists.
“We are two-deep at every position,” Braswell said. “When somebody gets into foul trouble, we don’t lose much.”
Forward Hewett Rolle stepped up. The junior college transfer was perfect, making five of five shots and three of three free throws.
“We had a couple guys in foul trouble and the coach was depending on me to do something,” Rolle said. “I just had to come in and do it.”
Guards Greg Minor and Markus Carr provided a spark off the bench. Minor scored 13 points, making five of six shots, including three of four three- pointers. Carr had 11 points on four-of-six shooting, and had four assists.
“Everybody was waiting for [Harris} to score 30 and carry us but we have a lot of people who can give us a boost,” Crowe said.