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Matadors Know This Road All Too Well

The Cal State Northridge men’s basketball team has been down this road before--specifically Highway 99 to Fresno.

The trip home usually includes few smiles.

Northridge (1-1), coming off a home-opening victory Saturday over Cal State Dominguez Hills, faces a more formidable opponent tonight in a nonconference game at Fresno State.

For the Matadors (1-1), who play another nonconference game Saturday night at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, any matchup against the Bulldogs presents a challenge, especially at Selland Arena.

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Northridge has won only four times in 28 meetings between the teams and is 2-14 at Fresno. The Matadors haven’t defeated Fresno State since 1971, pulling off an 85-79 victory that year at Fresno.

Since joining Division I in 1990, Northridge has lost all three games against the Bulldogs, all at Fresno. The Bulldogs defeated Northridge, 97-77, in their last meeting in 1995.

Northridge’s career winning percentage of .143 against Fresno State ranks as the second-worst in team history. The Matadors are 0-10 against Nevada Las Vegas.

Fresno State (3-2) has four returning starters and, of course, colorful Jerry Tarkanian as coach. The game will mark the first meeting on the floor between Northridge Coach Bobby Braswell and Tarkanian.

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Center Brian Heinle and forwards Jeff Parris, Andre Larry and Hewitt Rolle form a front court that is ranked best in the Big Sky Conference by Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook.

The reserves are strong too, although junior Jermar Welch is expected to be sidelined several weeks after undergoing surgery this week to repair torn ligaments in his left thumb. Redshirt freshman Dan Read, from Eugene, Ore., is the team’s tallest player at 6 feet 10.

Heinle, the Matadors’ leading scorer and rebounder among returning players, is averaging a team-high 16.5 points after two games. The 6-9 junior center had a game-high 21 points against Dominguez Hills.

“When he wants to be, he can be dominating inside,” forward Hewitt Rolle said.

Heinle will have help against Fresno State. Larry, a 6-9 senior, is expected to return after serving a two-game suspension for participating in an unsanctioned summer league.

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Northridge has the 39th-toughest schedule in the nation, as well as the toughest in the program’s history, according to Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook, which lists the Matadors as a program “on the way up.”

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* LEGAL FIGHT: Former assistant football coaches Craig Wall and Keith Borges filed a $6 million claim against Cal State Northridge. B1


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