Matadors Collect Historic Haul on All-Big West Women's Basketball Team
NORTHRIDGE, Calif. ---
The Cal State Northridge women's basketball team received a historic haul of awards as part of the 2013-14 All-Big West Team, highlighted by Ashlee Guay earning Big West Player of the Year honors. In addition to Guay's individual award, Camille Mahlknecht was named Big West Defensive Player of the Year, Jason Flowers was named Big West Coach of the Year and Janae Sharpe and Cinnamon Lister earned All-Big West honors.
A 5-7 junior guard from San Diego, Calif., Guay became the first Matador in program history to earn her conference's Player of the Year award. She has had a record-setting season for the Matadors in her third year with the program.
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 373 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 1,162 points.
"I am humbled to win this award, which I think is really a reflection of my team and all the hard work we've put in this year," Guay said. "Looking back, this season has been pretty hectic. We did not do too well in preseason, but our performance in winning the league shows that hard work pays off. That is a testament to the endurance of our team. We have become a much mentally tougher group and grown together."
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. Guay also set a new school record for career steals when she recorded her second of four in the Matadors' win at UC Davis.
She is averaging 15.7 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 41.6 percent from downtown to rank 23rd in Division I as of March 9. Guay ranks among the league's leaders in field goal percentage, free throw percentage, 3-point percentage and steals, assists and minutes per game. Guay was the Big West Player of the Week twice this year.
Sharpe has come on strong as of lately and earned her second All-Big West Second Team award of her career.
Before the year, Sharpe had never scored 20 or more points in a game; she now has three-such performances after the two last week. 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 12.5 points and has increased that average to 15.3 per game in conference play. Sharpe is second on the team lead with 114 assists and her 4.1 per-game average ranks fourth in the league.
"It is an honor to be recognized by the league, but right now our main focus is the Big West Tournament," Sharpe said. "We want to remain focused and stay on top of things so when Friday comes, we are ready to go. This whole season has been special and I am honored to be on this team and coached by this coaching staff."
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.
After sitting out last year due to NCAA transfer rules, Lister returned to the court with authroity and proved to be one of CSUN's most valuable players.
She has scored in double-figures 23 times this season and has led the team in scoring on 14 occasions. She has reached 20+ nine times this year after finishing with a team-high 25 points and a career-high seven 3-pointers in the home win vs. Cal State Fullerton. She also scored 25, 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 83 and counting.
"I worked hard all of last year and to finally play with the team and achieve the level of success we're reached has been special and I am thankful," Lister said.
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 eighth in the Big West Conference at 15.4 points per game and leads the conference at 2.86 3's per game, the 27th best average in Division I as of March 9. Lister is also averaging 3.2 assists, 2.3 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game.
Mahlknecht earned Big West Defensive Player of the Year honors after posting 93 blocks for an average of 3.1 per game. As of March 9, she ranks 11th in Division I in blocks per game. 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.
This season, Mahlknecht set a new school record in blocks by recording the 150th of her career in the contest vs. NAU. She has a career-high 93 blocks on the season, tying her for the most in program history for a single season, and has surpassed 200 for her career. She also now stands at eighth in school history with 585 career boards. A 6-3 center from Agoura, Calif., Mahlknecht has led the squad in rebounds 16 times this season.
"I am happy to receive this award because we have worked hard to be one of the best defensive teams in the league," Mahlknecht said. "This is a team award because the other players on the court do a good job of setting me up and also grabbing the ball after it has been blocked. All the girls who won awards this year for CSUN are juniors, so I feel like we are just scratching the surface of our talent."
In CSUN's first home win over UC Santa Barbara since 1984, Mahlknecht finished with a season-high 21 points and a school-record 22 rebounds. 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.
This is the second time in three seasons that Flowers has received the conference's Coach of the Year award. The Matadors went 12-4 in Big West action, the most wins by a CSUN team in its Big West history. The team also recorded notable victories over USC and Clemson and recorded season sweeps of Long Beach State and UC Santa Barbara.
"I look at this award as a reflection of our program and all the hard work that has been put in to get us to this point," Flowers said. "From our strength and conditioning coach to our athletic trainer to our assistant coaches to our administration to our academic advisors, this award is a reflection of the entire program. Our young women are the most important part. They accomplished some remarkable things this year, But this award is a recognition of our program and the hard work of a lot of people."
After going 4-12 in league play during his first season, Flowers and CSUN have gone 32-18 (.625) in Big West games over the last three years. By claiming the regular season Big West title, Flowers and the Matadors are guaranteed a postseason berth for just the third time in program history.
CSUN Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Dr. Brandon E. Martin was happy to see the Matadors rewarded for an historic season.
"The CSUN women's basketball team has undoubtedly had an epic year. The student-athletes and coaching staff have represented our university with pride, integrity and a commitment to excellence," Dr. Martin said. "Jason has done an exemplary job developing our team and Ashlee Guay truly epitomizes success on the court and in the classroom. I want to congratulate the entire team on an historic campaign and wish them much success in postseason play.