NORTHRIDGE, Calif. ---
Start of League Plays Brings Challenges from Aggies, Wahine
The Cal State Northridge women's basketball team (4-10) embarks upon its 2014 Big West Conference schedule with a pair of road contests. On Thursday, Jan. 9, the Matadors open the league campaign with a 7 p.m. contest at UC Davis. Three days later, the Matadors hit Waikiki Beach for a Jan. 12 contest at Hawai'i that begins at 5 p.m. (HT) / 8 p.m. (PT). Ryan Stanbury will be calling both games for CSUN as part of the Matadors' partnership with Nelligan Sports Marketing. Live stats and video will also be available for both contests with links at GoMatadors.com.
In its last two games, CSUN fell at Oregon and then dropped an overtime decision at home to CSU Bakersfield. Cinnamon Lister led CSUN in scoring in both contests, finishing with a career-high 26 points and six 3-pointers vs. the Ducks. She then dropped 20 points and five 3-pointers vs. the Roadrunners and is averaging a team-high 15.9 points per game on the season.
UC Davis enters the week with a 5-8 overall record and has won three of its past four contests. Sydnee Fipps leads the Aggies and ranks tied for third in the Big West at 17.8 points per game. Kelsey Harris is tied with Lister for the league lead with 37 3-pointers on the year and is averaging 11.7 points per game. Alison Doherty is the third Aggie to average in double-figures at 10.5 ppg. CSUN has won three of the last four meetings with the Aggies, but has not won in Davis since 2005.
Hawai'i enters the week 6-6 overall and hosts Cal Poly on Wednesday, Jan. 8 in both teams' conference opener. Kamilah Jackson leads the Rainbow Wahine in scoring at 16.7 points and in rebounding at 10.0 boards per game. Ashleigh Karaitiana is the team's second-leading scorer at 10.2 points per game while Hawai'i has five players averaging between 4.3 points and 9.4 points per game. CSUN has never defeated Hawai'i in women's basketball.
Following the excursion to Honolulu, CSUN returns to the mainland for its conference home opener, a Jan. 16 contest with Cal Poly at 7 p.m. Two days later, CSUN travels to face UC Santa Barbara at 2 p.m. on Jan. 18.
A Guay with Words
Junior Ashlee Guay enters conference play needing just two steals to set a new program record. At 214 steals in 77 career games, Guay has averaged 2.8 per game over her career and owns the two top single-season marks (93, 91) in program history. She is averaging 14.3 points per game, the second-best mark on the team and the 11th-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 nine times 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. In addition to steals, Guay needs 33 more assists to set a new program record and 110 points to become the 10th player in school history to amass 1,000 career points.
CSUN's Secret Ingredient
Junior Cinnamon Lister has scored in double-figures 10 times this season and has led the team in scoring on seven occasions. She has reached 20+ five times this year and enters conference play having scored a career-high 26 at Oregon and another 20 against Bakersfield recently. Against the Ducks, Lister drained a career-high six 3-pointers, finishing one short of matching the school record for a single game. She also posted 24 points, including a career-high nine field goals, in the victory at Clemson and finished with 20 vs. BYU and 21 at Washington State. She leads the team and ranks sixth in the Big West Conference at 15.9 points per game and is tied for first in the league with 37 3-pointers. Lister is one of three Matadors to average over three assists and ranks 10th in the league at 3.1 per game.
Junior Janae Sharpe checks in at first in the Big West Conference with an average of 4.8 assists per game. She has led the Matadors in helpers in seven of the last eight games and dished out a season-high eight assists to go with nine points and five rebounds in the victory over USC. Sharpe scored a season-high 19 points vs. Saint Mary's to match her career best for the fifth time and first occasion since her freshman season. She has averaged 9.9 points over her Matador career and has been especially menacing at the free throw line. In the middle of her third season, Sharpe is 205-of-278 (.737) from the stripe and is currently 24-of-42 on the year. Sharpe is also a tough defensive asset for CSUN, having amassed 110 career steals compared to just 94 career fouls. For the season, Sharpe is averaging 8.8 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.0 steal. Sharpe was the 2011-12 Big West Freshman of the Year and earned All-Big West Second Team honors that year.
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 6.6 per game to rank seventh 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 4.6 points, on 52.8 percent shooting from the field, and 1.2 assists per game.
Mahl-Knechting the Dots
Junior Camille Mahlknecht set a new school record in blocks by recording the 150th of her career in the contest vs. NAU. She finished with a season-high six rejections to go with 10 points and nine boards against the Lumberjacks. For the season, Mahlknecht is averaging 7.1 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game. She came off the bench to score 10 points and grab seven rebounds vs. CSUB and pulled down a team-high 10 rebounds to go with a season-high five blocked shots in CSUN's win vs. USC. 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. Last season, Mahlknect posted a league-high 75 and finished 25th in all of Division I at 2.34 blocks per game.
Georgia on My Mind
Junior Randi Friess has led the Matadors in rebounds in two of CSUN's last three contests. She pulled down eight boards vs. Saint Mary's and then grabbed a season-high nine at Oregon. Offensively, she finished with a season-high 11 points in the Matadors' win over NAU and added 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 3.7 points and 3.8 rebounds. Last year, she surpassed both figures by averaging 4.6 points and 4.1 rebounds. This season, she is averaging 3.9 points and 4.3 rebounds through 14 games.
The Bernadette Fong Show
Sophomore Bernadette Fong finished with 11 points, seven rebounds and two assists vs. CSUB. She posted 10 points on a career-high five field goals in 16 minutes vs. USC and 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. Fong is averaging 5.5 points and 5.2 rebounds in 13 appearances this season. Against Montana State, she posted nine points and a career-high 11 rebounds and two steals.
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 51.9 percent from the field. She is averaging 3.0 points and 2.5 rebounds per game.
Thou Shalt Steal
The Matadors have totaled 803 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 (110) than career fouls (94).
On the Rebound
The Matadors have grabbed 572 rebounds through 14 games, an average of 40.9 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 210 offensive rebounds for the year, an average of 15 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 win 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.
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.