February 26, 2014

CSUN Hosts Cal State Fullerton, UC Riverside in Final Regular Season Home Contests

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Race for 1,000 Fans vs. Cal State Fullerton Promotion

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. --- 

Senior Day Festivities Center Around Contest with Highlanders

The Cal State Northridge women's basketball team (13-14, 9-4 Big West) host Cal State Fullerton and UC Riverside this week in a pair of crucial match-ups for the upcoming Big West Tournament. On Thursday, Feb. 27, the Matadors host the Titans at 7 p.m. Two days later, CSUN hosts UC Riverside on Senior Day at 4 p.m. Following the contest with the Highlanders, the Matadors will honor its two-member senior class: Mikayla Thielges and Haley White. Both games will be featured on Big West TV with an audio-only link also available at GoMatadors.com. Ryan Stanbury and Rheina Ale will be calling all the action this week on the broadcasts.

Last week, CSUN fell to UC Irvine 76-72 in a game featured on ESPN3. Ashlee Guay led CSUN with 20 points, but the Matadors could not solve the Anteaters' interior offense for the second time this season.

This week, CSUN tangles with the Titans and Highlanders in a pair of contests important towards seeding in the Big West Tournament. Cal State Fullerton is 10-15 overall and 6-6 in Big West play entering Thursday's game. Alex Thomas, a 5-8 senior guard, leads the team in scoring at 14.4 points per game. Chante Miles, a 5-3 junior guard, is averaging 14.1 ppg and leads the team with 100 assists on the year. The Matadors defeated Cal State Fullerton 76-54 in the first meeting this year and have won five straight in the all-time series.

UC Riverside enters the week carrying a 6-20 overall record and a 2-11 mark in Big West play with the CSUN contest its only game of the week. Brittany Crain, a 5-8 sophomore guard, leads the Highlanders in scoring at 18.9 points per game. Freshman Simone DeCoud is second at 11.8 ppg while Natasha Hadley (10.5) and Annelise Ito (10.4) also average in double figures. CSUN scored a 71-61 victory at UCR earlier this season and have won five straight in the series.

Next week, the Matadors head to Long Beach State on Mar. 6 for its final regular season game of the 2013-14 season. Tip off from The Walter Pyramid is slated for 7 p.m. Following the contest against the 49ers, the Matadors will most likely know their seed for the upcoming Big West Tournament.

Big West Tournament Talk

Entering Thursday's contest, the Matadors stand in a tie for first place with Cal Poly in the Big West Conference and own tiebreakers over the Mustangs and Hawai'i. The first two rounds of the Big West Tournament will be played at Long Beach State. The No. 5 seed faces the No. 8 seed and the No. 6 and No. 7 squads meet on Mar. 11. The next day, the No. 3 and 4 seeds play the winners from Tuesday. On Mar. 14, the tournament moves to the Honda Center in Anaheim where the No. 1 and No. 2 seed join the fray and take on the two surviving teams from Long Beach. The winner of the Big West Tournament earns the league's automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.

A Guay with Words

Junior Ashlee Guay has had a record-setting season for the Matadors in her third year with the squad. Originally from San Diego, Calif., Guay has set the program career records for steals and assists while also setting a single-game record for 3-pointers in a game. She dished out seven assists vs. UC Davis on Feb. 6 to set a new program all-time record and she currently has 360 and counting. She became the 10th player in school history to reach 1,000 career points when she finished with 13 at UC Riverside. Two days later, she finished with 26 in the overtime victory vs. Hawai'i and stands at eighth in school history with 1,128 points. She had a stellar weekend for CSUN in home games vs. UC Irvine and Long Beach State to earn her second Big West Player of the Week award this season. 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. 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 225 steals in 90 games for an average of 2.5 per contest and she owns the two top single-season marks (93, 91) in program history. 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 is averaging 16.2 points per game, the best mark on the team and the sixth-best average in the Big West. Guay is also second the league in 3-point percentage at 43.4 percent from downtown to rank 18th in Division I.

CSUN's Secret Ingredient

Junior Cinnamon Lister has scored in double-figures 21 times this season and has led the team in scoring on 13 occasions. She has reached 20+ eight times this year after finishing with a team-high 25 points, including a career-high 10 field goals and five 3-pointers, in the win at Cal Poly. After knocking down two 3-pointers in the home win vs. UC Santa Barbara, Lister became CSUN's all-time single-season leader for 3-pointers in a season with 70 and counting. She scored a career-high 26 points at Oregon, 20 in a home win vs. Cal Poly, another 20 against Bakersfield and 23 in the win at UC Riverside. Against the Ducks, Lister drained a career-high six 3-pointers, She also posted 24 points in the victory at Clemson and finished with 20 vs. BYU and 21 at Washington State. She ranks second on the team and ninth in the Big West Conference at 15.2 points per game and she ranks second in the conference at 2.69 3's per game, the 43rd best average in Division I. Lister is also averaging 3.1 assists, 2.3 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game.

Mighty Sharpe

Junior Janae Sharpe has had a strong season for the Matadors in her third with the squad. She scored a career-high 27 points in the Matadors' overtime victory against Hawai'i, knocking down a season-high eight field goals to go with a team-high eight boards. For the year, Sharpe is averaging 11.9 points and has increased that average to 14.8 per game in conference play. Sharpe is second on the team lead with 102 assists and her 4.1 per-game average ranks fourth in the league. 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. In the middle of her third season, Sharpe is 254-of-343 (.741) from the stripe and is currently 73-of-107 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 119 career steals compared to just 110 career fouls. For the season, Sharpe is averaging 11.9 points, 4.7 rebounds and 0.8 steals per game.

Mahl-Knechting the Dots 

Junior Camille Mahlknecht finished with a season-high 21 points and a school-record 22 rebounds in the Matadors' home win against UC Santa Barbara. Two days earlier, she posted 10 points, seven rebounds and six blocks in CSUN's win at Cal Poly. The pair of performances helped her earn her first career Big West Player of the Week award and the Matadors' third player to receive the honor in the last five weeks. In CSUN's win at Cal State Fullerton on Feb. 8, Mahlknecht blocked a school-record 11 shots and just missed a triple double with 14 rebounds and eight points. For the year, Mahlknecht is averaging 7.7 points, 7.6 rebounds and 3.2 blocks per game. As of Feb. 24, Mahlknecht ranks 11th in Division I in blocks per game after checking in at 25th in her sophomore campaign. Earlier this season, she set a new school record in blocks by recording the 150th of her career in the contest vs. NAU. She has a career-high 85 blocks on the season and has surpassed 200 for her career. She also now stands at eighth in school history with 570 career boards. A 6-3 center from Agoura, Calif., Mahlknecht has led the squad in rebounds 16 times this season.

Georgia on My Mind

Junior Randi Friess continues to make hustle plays in her third season on the team. She matched a season best with 11 points at home vs. UC Davis and knocked down a season-high three 3-pointers in the contest. Friess tied a career high with nine rebounds in the home win against UC Santa Barbara, at UC Riverside and at Oregon. Friess dished out a career-high four assists to go along with a season-high nine points in the win at Clemson. Over her Matador career, Friess has averaged 3.6 points and 4.0 rebounds. Last year, she surpassed both figures by averaging 4.6 points and 4.1 rebounds. This season, she is averaging 3.6 points and 4.7 rebounds through 27 games.

The Bernadette Fong Show

Sophomore Bernadette Fong scored 14 points and tied a career high with 11 rebounds in the win at UC Riverside, her second double-double 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. For the season, Fong is averaging 6.0 points and 5.0 rebounds per game and has scored in double figures six times. 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.

From Diamonds to Keys

Senior Mikayla Thielges continues to impress in her only season of Division I women's basketball. She is sixth on the team in rebounding at 4.1 per game and pulled down a career-high 17 rebounds in the Matadors' victory at Georgia Southern. She also had a game-high 13 boards at Montana State and is averaging nearly 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 3.1 points per game on 53.8 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 47.1 percent from the field. She is averaging 2.1 points and 2.1 rebounds per game.

Thou Shalt Steal

The Matadors have totaled 884 steals over the past two-plus seasons, an average of 9.9 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 (119) than career fouls (110).

On the Rebound

The Matadors have grabbed 1,106 rebounds through 27 games, an average of 41.0 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 392 offensive rebounds for the year, an average of 14.5 per game. Individually, Camille Mahlknecht grabbed a school-record 22 rebounds in the home win against UCSB and her 12 offensive boards in the game also tied for the best mark in program history. She has led the Matadors in rebounding 16 times on the year. Mikayla Thielges grabbed a career-high 17 rebounds at Georgia Southern and  had a game-high 13 rebounds while Bernadette Fong snared a career-high 11 rebounds at Montana State and UC Riverside.