NORTHRIDGE, Calif. ---
Matadors Meets Highlanders, Rainbow Wahine in Pivotal Contests
The Cal State Northridge women's basketball team (8-12, 4-2 Big West) plays a pair of important Big West Conference contests this week, facing UC Riverside and Hawai'i. On Thursday, Jan. 30, the Matadors will head to the Inland Empire to square off with the Highlanders in a 7 p.m. contest at SRC Arena. Two days later, CSUN meets Hawai'i for the second time this year in a 4 p.m. contest on Saturday, Feb. 1. Ryan Stanbury and Rheina Ale will be on the call for both games on GoMatadors.com and their broadcast Saturday will be featured on Big West TV. Fans are also encouraged to check with the CSUN Athletic Department's official Twitter account (@GoMatadors) for in-game updates throughout the weekend.
Last week, CSUN lost to UC Irvine before posting its largest win ever over Long Beach State two days later. Junior Ashlee Guay had a stellar weekend and earned Big West Player of the Week honors for the second time this season. Against the Anteaters, Guay scored a career-high 32 points on a school-record eight 3-pointers. Against the 49ers, she posted 21 points and a career-high 10 rebounds for her second career double-double.
This week, the Matadors face a pair of tough opponents. Despite a 4-15 overall record and a 0-6 mark in league play, UC Riverside features the league's top scorer in Brittany Crain at 19.1 points per game. Crain also leads the league in steals per game and is joined by Annelise Ito (11.8 ppg), Simone DeCoud (11.1 ppg) and Simone DeCoud (10.8 ppg). Northridge has won the last four with UCR and the all-time series between the two schools is tied at 26-26.
Hawai'i enters the week with a 10-7 overall record and 4-1 mark in Big West play. The Rainbow Wahine play at Long Beach State on Thursday before heading to the San Fernando Valley for Saturday's game. Kamilah Jackson leads the team in scoring and rebounding at 16.2 points and 10.4 rebounds per game. Shawna-Lei Kuehu is second on the squad at 10.6 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. CSUN fell 54-44 in Honolulu earlier this year and has never defeated Hawai'i in women's hoops.
Next week, CSUN hosts UC Davis on Feb. 6 at 7 p.m. before traveling to San Luis Obispo to face Cal Poly on Feb. 8 at 4 p.m.
A Guay with Words -- Big West Player of the Week
Junior Ashlee Guay had a stellar weekend for CSUN in games vs. UC Irvine and Long Beach State. Against the Anteaters, she finished with a career-high 32 points on a school-record eight 3-pointers. Two days later, she posted 21 points and a career-high 10 rebounds for her second career double-double in a win over the 49ers. Guay is quickly nearing a pair of milestones; she needs eight assists to set a new program all-time record and nine points to become the 10th player in school history to score 1,000 career points. Earlier this season, Guay set a new school record for career steals when she recorded her second of four in the Matadors' win at UC Davis. For her career, Guay has 216 steals in 83 games for an average of 2.6 per contest and she owns the two top single-season marks (93, 91) in program history. She is averaging 15.1 points per game, the best mark on the team and the X-best average in the Big West. Guay led the Matadors with 16 points and 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.
Junior Janae Sharpe reached double figures in both CSUN contests last week, giving her 40 such performances for her career. She averaged 17.5 points in the Matadors' victories over Cal Poly and UC Santa Barbara, shooting 52.2 percent from the field while being called for just one foul in 70 minutes of action. That performance helped her earn Big West Player of the Week honors for the first time since her freshman season. Sharpe checks in at X in the Big West Conference with an average of 4.4 assists per game. 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 10.3 points over her Matador career and has been especially menacing at the free throw line. In the middle of her third season, Sharpe is 227-of-308 (.737) from the stripe and is currently 46-of-72 on the year after knocking down a season-high 10 free throws vs. Long Beach State. Sharpe is also a tough defensive asset for CSUN, having amassed 113 career steals compared to just 101 career fouls. For the season, Sharpe is averaging 10.9 points, 4.3 rebounds and 0.8 steals per game. Sharpe was the 2011-12 Big West Freshman of the Year and earned All-Big West Second Team honors that year.
CSUN's Secret Ingredient
Junior Cinnamon Lister has scored in double-figures 14 times this season and has led the team in scoring on 10 occasions. She has reached 20+ six times this year and scored a career-high 26 at Oregon, 20 in a home win vs. Cal Poly and another 20 against Bakersfield. Against the Ducks, Lister drained a career-high six 3-pointers, finishing one short of matching the then-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 ranks second on the team and ranks X in the Big West Conference at 14.7 points per game and is X in the league with 48 3-pointers, tied for the seventh-most in school history for a single season. Lister is also averaging 2.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.3 steals per game.
Mahl-Knechting the Dots
Junior Camille Mahlknecht scored 11 points to go with eight rebounds and two blocks in the win over Long Beach State. She averaged 9.5 points, 10.0 rebounds and 4.0 blocks in the Matadors' victories over Cal Poly and UC Santa Barbara; she matched a season best with a team-high 12 rebounds vs. Cal Poly and her 13 points vs. the Gauchos were her most since the season opener at Sacramento State. Earlier this season, she 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 7.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and a league-leading 2.6 blocks per game. 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. As of Jan. 27, Mahlknecht ranks 24th in Division I in blocks per game after checking in at 25th in her sophomore campaign.
The Bernadette Fong Show
Sophomore Bernadette Fong finished with 10 points vs. UC Irvine to record her fifth double-figure scoring performance of the year. She scored a career-high 16 points and seven field goals in the Matadors' victory at UC Santa Barbara and played a career-high 19 minutes and grabbed six rebounds in the victory over the Gauchos. She 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 12 points, including a career-high four free throws, to go with 10 rebounds. Fong is averaging 6.0 points and 5.3 rebounds in 19 appearances this season. Against Montana State, she posted nine points and a career-high 11 rebounds and two steals.
Georgia on My Mind
Junior Randi Friess continues to make hustle plays in her third season on the team. 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 3.6 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 3.5 points and 4.3 rebounds through 20 games.
From Diamonds to Keys
Senior Mikayla Thielges continues to impress in her only season of Division I women's basketball. She is third on the team in rebounding at 5.1 per game and 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 over two 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 3.7 points per game on 53.4 percent shooting from the field.
Jumping Jasmine Johnson
Sophomore Jasmine Johnson made the second start of her career vs. Long Beach State and finished with four points and five rebounds. 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 48.4 percent from the field. She is averaging 2.6 points and 2.6 rebounds per game.
Thou Shalt Steal
The Matadors have totaled 839 steals over the past two-plus seasons, an average of 10.1 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 set a new school record with her 214th career steal in the Matadors' win at UCD. Joining Guay is fellow junior Janae Sharpe, who has more career steals (113) than career fouls (101).
On the Rebound
The Matadors have grabbed 817 rebounds through 20 games, an average of 40.8 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 289 offensive rebounds for the year, an average of 14.5 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 in the Matadors' win over UCSB and had 10 in wins vs. USC and UC Davis.