December 17, 2013

CSUN Hosts Northern Arizona, Saint Mary’s Before Holiday Break

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NORTHRIDGE, Calif. --- 

Matadors Continue Homestand with Lumberjacks, Gaels

The Cal State Northridge women's basketball team (3-7) returns to The Matadome for a pair of game before an extended holiday break. On Thursday, Dec. 19, the Matadors host Northern Arizona University in a 7 p.m. contest. Two days later, the Matadors take on Saint Mary's College at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 21. Both games will feature live stats, audio and video with links available at GoMatadors.com.

Last week, CSUN registered a 65-64 victory over USC. The win marked the Matadors' first against the Women of Troy at the Division I level and represented a CSUN a victory over a Pac-12 opponent for the second-straight season. Junior Ashlee Guay led the Matadors with 16 points, six assists and five rebounds while Camille Mahlknecht added seven points, 10 rebounds and a season-high five blocked shots.

This week, the Matadors tackle the NAU Lumberjacks and Saint Mary's Gaels. Northern Arizona is 3-3 on the season and coming off an 86-65 victory over Texas Southern. Amanda Frost, a 5-8 senior guard, leads the team in scoring at 17.7 points per game.  Erikka Banks, a 6-0 junior forward, is second on the team at 14.2 points and leads the team in rebounding at 9.7 per contest. NAU has won the last five meetings with CSUN and the Matadors' last victory in the series came in 2000.

Saint Mary's carries an 8-1 record in to the week and will face USC before taking on the Matadors. Jackie Nared is averaging 22.7 points and 8.9 rebounds in seven starts this season while Danielle Mauldin sports averages of 19.8 points and 14 rebounds in nine games. The Gaels have already knocked off UC Santa Barbara, Cal Poly and UC Davis this year and their only loss came at Sacramento State. CSUN has not defeated Saint Mary's since 1981.

Following the contest with the Gaels, the Matadors do not return to the court for a final pair of non-conference games sandwiched around the New Year. On Sunday, Dec. 29, the Matadors travel to Eugene, Ore., for a 4 p.m. contest vs. the University of Oregon. CSUN returns home to christen 2014 with a Jan. 2 contest against CSU Bakersfield at The Matadome at 7 p.m.  

A Guay with Words -- Big West Player of the Week

Junior Ashlee Guay enters Thursday's contest averaging a team-high 15.9 points per game, the top mark on the team and the sixth-best average in the Big West. After scoring a season-high 25 points, including a career-high 11 field goals, at Montana State, Guay has scored between 14-17 in every game and finished with 16 on five occasions. Guay led the Matadors with 16 points and tied a season high with six assists in the win over USC to earn Big West Player of the Week honors. She earned All-Tournament Team honors at the CSUN Thanksgiving Classic by averaging 15.5 points in games against Santa Clara and Utah State. Guay earned a spot on the Preseason All-Big West Team after a sophomore campaign when she paced the Matadors in scoring at 13.2 points per game to rank sixth in the conference. Guay needs 12 steals to set a new program record and 48 assists to set the career mark for that category as well. 

CSUN's Secret Ingredient

Junior Cinnamon Lister has scored in double-figures in eight of the Matadors' 10 games and has led the team in scoring on six occasions. She has reached 20+ three times this year, including a career-high 24 points and nine field goals in the victory at Clemson. She poured in a team-high 20 points and a career-high five 3-pointers against BYU and posted 21 in the Matadors' contest at Washington State. She ranks second on the team and ninth in the Big West Conference at 15.2 points per game and is second in the league with 24 3-pointers on the year. Lister is one of three Matadors to average over three assists and ranks ninth in the league at 3.4 per game. She also checks in at ninth in steals per game (1.7) and is playing 32.8 minutes per game.

From Diamonds to Keys

Senior Mikayla Thielges continues to impress in her only season of Division I women's basketball. She leads the team in rebounding at 7.7 per game to rank sixth in the Big West Conference. She pulled down a career-high 17 rebounds in the Matadors' victory at Georgia Southern, two shy of tying for second in school history for a single game. She also had a game-high 13 boards at Montana State and is averaging nearly three offensive rebounds per game. Thielges scored a career-high 10 points on 5-of-5 shooting from the field in the game against Santa Clara. A pickup from the CSUN softball program, where she was a two-time All-Big West catcher, Thielges is also averaging 4.9 points, on 62.9 percent shooting from the field, and 1.2 assists per game. 

Mighty Sharpe

Junior Janae Sharpe finished with a season-high eight assists to go with nine points and five rebounds in the victory over USC. She scored a season-high 10 points and had five rebounds against Santa Clara and then dished out six assists against Utah State in the CSUN Thanksgiving Tournament. She has averaged 9.7 points over her Matador career and has been especially menacing at the free throw line. In the middle of her third season, Sharpe is 196-of-258 (.760) from the stripe and is currently 15-of-22 on the year. Sharpe is also a tough defensive asset for CSUN, having amassed 103 career steals compared to just 86 career fouls. For the season, Sharpe is averaging 7.0 points, 3.6 rebounds and 4.1 assists on the year. She ranks among the league leaders in assists per game (3rd) and assist-to-turnover ratio (3rd, 1.65) Sharpe was the 2011-12 Big West Freshman of the Year and earned All-Big West Second Team honors that year.

Mahl-Knechting the Dots

Junior Camille Mahlknecht pulled down a team-high 10 rebounds to go with a season-high five blocked shots in CSUN's win vs. USC. She now has 26 for the season and 146 for her career, four short of setting a new school record. She has blocked four shots in three other games this year and leads the Big West in rejections. She recorded her first double-double of the year with 11 points and 12 rebounds against Utah State and just missed a pair of double-doubles in the Matadors' victories at Clemson and Georgia Southern. Against the Tigers, she finished with 12 points and nine rebounds while against the Eagles she totaled 10 points and nine rebounds. She is averaging 7.6 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game on the year. Last season, Mahlknect posted a league-high 75 and finished 25th in all of Division I at 2.34 blocks per game.

The Bernadette Fong Show

Sophomore Bernadette Fong scored 10 points on a career-high five field goals in a career-high 16 minutes off the bench vs. USC. She produced the first double-double of her career in the game against Utah State, scoring a career-high 12 points, including a career-high four free throws, to go with 10 rebounds.  She is averaging 5.0 points and 5.1 rebounds through the first 10 contests. She finished with seven points and seven rebounds against Sacramento State. Two days later, she posted nine points and a career-high 11 rebounds, two steals and 15 minutes at Montana State.

Georgia on my mind

Junior Randi Friess scored seven points and had three rebounds in the win vs. USC. Friess dished out a career-high four assists to go along with a season-high nine points in the win at Clemson. She totaled six rebounds at both Sacramento State and  Montana State and had eight points and three steals against the Hornets. Over her Matador career, Friess has averaged 3.5 points and 3.6 rebounds. Last year, she surpassed both figures by averaging 4.6 points and 4.1 rebounds. This season, she is averaging 3.2 points and 3.4 rebounds through 10 games.

Jumping Jasmine Johnson

Sophomore Jasmine Johnson has rewarded the coaching staff with increased productivity this season. She recorded a career-high 10 points and five field goals vs. Eastern Washington to go with a season-high six rebounds and her first career blocked shot. Johnson added six points off the bench in the victory at Georgia Southern and is shooting 57.1 percent from the field. She is averaging 3.4 points and 2.3 rebounds per game.

CSUN's Block Party

The Matadors have led the Big West Conference in blocked shots the past two-plus seasons, totaling 309 rejections for an average of 4.2 per game. Junior Camille Mahlknecht is the Matadors' best rim protector, posting 146 blocks in her Matador career. She stands on pace to break the school's all-time mark of 149 blocked shots held by her former teammate Jasmine Erving. Mahlknecht had 75 blocks last season, the third-most in school history for a single season.

Thou Shalt Steal

The Matadors have totaled 761 steals over the past two-plus seasons, an average of 10.4 per game. They finished second in the Big West in the 2011-12 season after recording 312 thefts. Last year, CSUN improved on that figure by posting 357 steals in 32 games, the 28th-best average in all of Division I women's hoops. Junior Ashlee Guay has led the league in steals in each of her first two seasons and is on pace to break the school's all-time record during the 2013-14 season. Joining Guay is fellow junior Janae Sharpe, who has more career steals (103) than career fouls (86).

On the Rebound

The Matadors have grabbed 417 rebounds through nine games, an average of 41.7 per contest. In the season opener, the Matadors set a new program record by grabbing 62 rebounds. Of that total, 23 boards came on the offensive glass and CSUN has 147 offensive rebounds for the year, an average of 16.3 per game. Individually, Mikayla Thielges grabbed a career-high 17 rebounds at Georgia Southern, two shy of tying for second in school history. Thielges also grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds while Bernadette Fong snared a career-high 11 rebounds at Montana State and 10 vs. Utah State. Camille Mahlknecht registered a season-high 12 boards against the Aggies and had 10 in the win vs. USC.

Big Conference Hunting

The Matadors' victory against USC gave the program its third win ever against a Pac-12 opponent. The win also marked the second-straight year CSUN has downed a member of the league. Earlier, Northridge's at Clemson was their first ever over an Atlantic Coast Conference opponent. The win also represented a win vs. a BCS opponent for the third-straight season: West Virginia (Big East, 2011), UCLA (Pac-12, 2012), Clemson (ACC, 2013). The win over the Mountaineers was CSUN's first against a Big East foe and the upset over nationally ranked UCLA at Pauley Pavilion was Northridge's first win over a Pac-12 opponent since 1996. The Matadors still have a contest remaining with Oregon in the non-conference slate.

Head East Young Women

The Matadors' victories at Clemson and Georgia Southern were CSUN's first wins in the Eastern Time Zone since a victory over Central Connecticut State in New York on Nov. 25, 1995. In fact, that victory over CCSU was at a neutral site, so the wins were CSUN's first true road victories in the Eastern time zone. The victories also represented the first time CSUN had won a pair of overnight road games since the 2004-05 season.