NORTHRIDGE, Calif. ---
Matadors Set to Meet Gamecocks in NCAA First Round
The Cal State Northridge women's basketball team (18-14) heads to Seattle, Wash., to face South Carolina in the first round of the 2014 NCAA Tournament on Sunday, Mar. 23 at 2:30 p.m. (PT). The game, which will be broadcast live on ESPN and streamed on ESPN3, features Dave Fleming and Sean Farnham on the call and will pit the 16th-seeded Matadors against the top-seeded Gamecocks. The game will also feature a live, internet-only radio broadcast featuring Ryan Stanbury with links for it and live stats available at GoMatadors.com. Fans are also encouraged to check with GoMatadors.com for team updates throughout the weekend.
Last week, CSUN captured its first Big West Conference Tournament Championship in program history by defeating Cal Poly 73-58 in a game nationally televised on Fox Sports Prime Ticket. Big West Tournament MVP Ashlee Guay scored a game-high 25 points to go with six assists and four steals as the Matadors led nearly wire-to-wire in defeating the Mustangs for the third time this season.
Janae Sharpe added 17 points in the Championship game and she and Camille Mahlknecht also received All-Tournament Team awards. A day earlier, the Matadors posted a 78-60 victory over UC Irvine in the Big West Semifinals. Guay led the Matadors with 24 points while Cinnamon Lister scored 18 points. Mahlknecht finished with 16 points, 13 rebounds and had six blocks in the victory. She now has 101 for the year, which is a new program single-season record.
CSUN now makes its first trip to the NCAA Tournament representing the Big West Conference and will square off with South Carolina in Seattle on Sunday. South Carolina won the Southeastern Conference regular season title with a 14-2 record and enters the week with a 27-4 overall record. Although the Gamecocks have lost two of their last three, those losses were against NCAA Tournament participants Tennessee (a No.1 seed) and Kentucky (a No. 3 seed).
The other two teams in CSUN's area of the Stanford Regional and also competing at Alaska Airlines Arena on the campus of the University of Washington are Middle Tennessee State and Oregon State. Those two teams will play immediately after the conclusion of the Matadors-Gamecocks game with the winners advancing to face each other in the Round of 32 with a berth in the Sweet Sixteen at stake.
We Are Cal State Northridge
Cal State Northridge is proud to be representing the Big West Conference in the 2014 NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament. For media outlets, please refer to the institution as "Cal State Northridge" or "CSUN". We ask that you please not refer to the school as "CS Northridge", "CSU Northridge", "CS North" or "Northridge". Both the men's and women's programs are the "Matadors" and there is no need to add "Lady" before any women's athletic program.
A Guay with Words -- Big West Player of the Year & Big West Tournament MVP
Junior Ashlee Guay has had a record-setting season for the Matadors in her third year with the squad, earning Big West Player of the Year and All-Big West First Team awards. She is the first Matador in school history to earn her conference's player of the year award. She finished with 25 points, six assists, six rebounds and four steals in the Big West Championship victory over Cal Poly to earn Big West Tournament MVP honors. She scored a game-high 24 points and added six assists and a season-high six steals in the Matadors' Big West Semifinal victory over UC Irvine. 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 385 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 seventh in school history with 1,211 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 236 steals in 95 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.
Mighty Sharpe -- All-Big West Second Team
Junior Janae Sharpe rebounded sharply from a tough sophomore season to earn All-Big West Second Team honors for the second time in her career. Sharpe finished with 17 points, four rebounds and two assists in the Big West Championship victory over Cal Poly and earned Big West All-Tournament Team honors. She averaged 23 points and 6.5 rebounds in victories over Cal State Fullerton and UC Riverside to help CSUN clinch a share of the league title and earn her second Big West Player of the Week award of the season. Before the season, Sharpe had never scored 20 or more points in a game; she has three-such performances this year. 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 increased that average to 15.3 per game in conference play. Sharpe is second on the team with 122 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 270-of-361 (.751) from the stripe and is currently 89-of-125 on the year after knocking down a season-high 10 free throws vs. Long Beach State and at UC Riverside. Sharpe is also a tough defensive asset for CSUN, having amassed 121 career steals compared to just 117 career fouls.
CSUN's Secret Ingredient -- All-Big West Honorable Mention
Junior Cinnamon Lister returned to the court with vigor after sitting out last year due to NCAA transfer rules, earning All-Big West Honorable Mention honors. In the Matadors' Big West Semifinal victory over UC Irvine, she poured in 18 points and four 3-pointers. She has scored in double-figures 24 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, 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 87 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. 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 at 15.3 points per game and leads the conference at 2.87 3's per game, among the best averages in Division I. Lister is also averaging 3.1 assists, 2.2 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game.
Mahl-Knechting the Dots -- Big West Defensive Player of the Year
Junior Camille Mahlknecht led the Big West Conference in blocks for the second-straight year en route to Big West Defensive Player of the Year honors. In the Matadors' Big West Semifinal victory over UC Irvine, Mahlknecht posted 16 points, 13 rebounds and six blocked shots and she earned Big West Conference All-Tournament Team honors. She 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. 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, 7.3 rebounds and 3.2 blocks per game. As of Mar. 17, 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 101 blocks on the season and has surpassed 200 for her career. She also stands at seventh in school history with 601 career boards. A 6-3 center from Agoura, Calif., Mahlknecht has led the squad in rebounds 18 times this season.
Georgia on My Mind
Junior Randi Friess continues to make hustle plays in her third season on the team. She grabbed a career-high 10 rebounds to go with nine points off the bench in the home win vs. Cal State Fullerton. 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 grabbed 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 3.7 points and 4.1 rebounds. Last year, she surpassed both figures by averaging 4.6 points and 4.1 rebounds. This season, she is averaging 3.8 points and 5.0 rebounds through 32 games.
The Bernadette Fong Show
Sophomore Bernadette Fong led CSUN with 10 rebounds in the Big West Championship victory over Cal Poly to go with eight points in 20 minutes off the bench. She finished with a team-high 12 points in CSUN's win at Long Beach State. She posted 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 6.1 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 3.7 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 2.6 points per game on 53 percent shooting from the field.
You Can Always Go Downtown
The Cal State Northridge have had a prolific year shooting from 3-point range in the 2013-14 season. As a team, the Matadors have made 233-of-712 attempts from beyond the arc on the year, a season percentage of 32.7 that ranks 110th in the nation as of March 17. The Matadors average 7.3 3-pointers per game, the 50th best average in Division I as of March 16. Individually, Cinnamon Lister has had a record-breaking season in her first year with the club. The 5-5 shooting guard has hit a school-record 89 3-pointers this season while shooting 37.9 percent from beyond the arc. Fellow junior Ashlee Guay has knocked down 73 3's this season and ranks 17th in Division I at 42.4 percent from beyond the arc. At 2.87 3-pointers per game, Lister led the Big West Conference and ranks 25th in Division I as of March 17. Guay averages 2.28 3's per contest, the 91st-best mark in Division I as of March 17. Finally, junior Janae Sharpe has hit 33 3-pointers this season, more than her combined total from her first two seasons at CSUN.