NORTHRIDGE, Calif. ---
The Cal State Northridge women's basketball team, winners of both the Big West Conference regular season and Big West Conference Tournament Championship, are headed to Seattle, Wash., to face South Carolina in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. Making their second NCAA Tournament appearance and first representing the Big West Conference, the Matadors will face the Gamecocks of the Southeastern Conference on Sunday, Mar. 23 at 2:30 pm PT on ESPN.
"We are excited to be participating in the NCAA Tournament and to be representing the Cal State Northridge community and our fans," CSUN head coach Jason Flowers said. "We are excited to challenge ourselves against one of the best teams in America. I have a lot of respect for Dawn Staley and what she has accomplished as a coach. Her pedigree as a player speaks for itself. It will be a great test for our young women and our program to see where we are."
The Matadors captured the Big West Conference's automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament by knocking off Cal Poly in the Championship game. Junior guard Ashlee Guay earned Tournament MVP honors after finishing with 25 points, six assists and four steals in the victory. She also became the first Matador in program history to earn her league's Player of the Year award.
Fellow juniors Janae Sharpe and Camille Mahlknecht also earned All-Tournament Team honors for their performances. Sharpe had 17 points in the Championship game and earned All-Big West Second Team honors for the second time in her career. Mahlknecht was the Big West Defensive Player of the Year and set school records for career blocks and single-season blocks.
The Gamecocks of South Carolina won the SEC regular season title before falling to Kentucky in the SEC Tournament Semifinals. South Carolina is 27-4 overall and finished 14-2 in the SEC. Tiffany Mitchell, a 5-9 sophomore guard, leads the squad in scoring at 15.2 points per game. Aleighsa Welch, a 6-0 junior forward, is second on the team at 13.7 ppg while Alaina Coates, a 6-4 freshman center, averages a team-best 8.0 rebounds per game. Dawn Staley is in her sixth season as the head coach at South Carolina.
The Matadors and Gamecocks have never met in women's basketball. CSUN is 0-5 against the SEC in its women's basketball history. The last time CSUN played an SEC team, it lost 75-56 to Alabama on a neutral court in the 2006-07 season.
In addition to airing on ESPN, the game will also be available on ESPN3.
CSUN made its previous trip to the NCAA Tournament in the 1998-99 season as part of the Big Sky Conference. The Matadors lost 71-59 to Colorado State in Fort Collins, Colo.