NORTHRIDGE, Calif. ---
Matadors Meet Mustangs, Gauchos in Pivotal Contests
The Cal State Northridge women's basketball team (11-13, 7-3 Big West) plays an important pair of Big West Conference games this week. On Thursday, Feb. 13, the Matadors head to San Luis Obispo, Calif., to face Cal Poly at 7 p.m. inside Mott Gym. Two days later, CSUN hosts UC Santa Barbara in a 4 p.m. contest in which the Matadors will participate in the Play 4Kay Initiative, which promotes breast cancer research and awareness and is named after legendary North Carolina State coach Kay Yow. Ryan Stanbury and Rheina Ale will be on the call for both contests with all links available at GoMatadors.com.
Last week, CSUN split its two contests. The Matadors dropped an 82-74 decision to UC Davis in which the visiting Aggies shot 60 percent from the field for the contest. Cinnamon Lister scored a team-high 18 points and Ashlee Guay dished out seven assists to set a new program all-time record, but it was not enough to stop UCD.
Two days later, the Matadors put together an impressive performance in a 76-54 victory at Cal State Fullerton. Guay led the way with 26 points, Camille Mahlknecht finished with a season-high 14 rebounds and six blocks and the Matadors held the Titans to under 30 percent shooting from the field.
This week, CSUN tangles with its central coast rivals. Cal Poly is 14-8 overall and 8-1 in the Big West. Molly Schlemer leads the Mustangs and Big West in scoring at 18.6 points while Ariana Elegado is averaging a healthy 16.0 ppg. CSUN captured the first meeting between the two squads this season (81-76), but the road team has not picked up a win in the series since 2010.
UC Santa Barbara enters the week at 6-15 overall and 1-7 in the Big West Conference. The Gauchos host Long Beach State on Thursday night before making the trip to the San Fernando Valley. Nicole Nesbit leads the team in scoring at 15.6 ppg while Melissa Zornig (13.1) and Destini Mason (12.6) are also averaging in double-figures. CSUN defeated UCSB 64-46 in the earlier this meeting this season.
Next week, the Matadors play at UC Irvine in its lone contest. The contest, scheduled for Feb. 22 at 4 p.m. at the Bren Events Center, will be broadcast on ESPN3.
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 dished out seven assists vs. UC Davis on Feb. 6 to set a new program all-time record. 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 10th in school history with 1,071 points. She had a stellar weekend for CSUN in 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 219 steals in 87 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 15.9 points per game, the best mark on the team and the sixth-best average in the Big West. Guay also leads the league in 3-point percentage at 42.1 percent from downtown.
Junior Janae Sharpe scored a career-high 27 points in the Matadors' overtime victory against Hawai'i. She knocked down a season-high eight field goals and led the Matadors with eight boards vs. the Rainbow Wahine. For the year, Sharpe is averaging 11.5 points and has increased that average to 14.6 per game in conference play. Sharpe is second the squad with 92 assists and her 4.2 per-game average ranks fifth 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. Sharpe has averaged 10.5 points over her Matador career and has been especially menacing at the free throw line. In the middle of her third season, Sharpe is 250-of-339 (.737) from the stripe and is currently 69-of-103 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 118 career steals compared to just 107 career fouls. For the season, Sharpe is averaging 11.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 0.9 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 18 times this season and has led the team in scoring on 12 occasions. She has reached 20+ seven times this year after finishing with a team-high 23 points at UC Riverside. She scored a career-high 26 points 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 a school record at the time. 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 ninth in the Big West Conference at 15.0 points per game and is second in the league with 60 3-pointers, the fourth-most in school history for a single season and seven shy of establishing a new program record. Lister is also averaging 3.1 assists, the 10th-best average in the conference, 2.3 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game.
Mahl-Knechting the Dots
Junior Camille Mahlknecht grabbed a season-high 14 rebounds to go with eight points and six blocks in the win at Cal State Fullerton. She now stands at 10th in school history with 536 career boards. A 6-3 center from Agoura, Calif., Mahlknecht averages a team-high 7.1 rebounds per game and has led the squad in rebounds 14 times this season. 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 and a league-leading 2.7 blocks per game. 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. As of Feb. 2, 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 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 6.1 points and 5.2 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.
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 win at UC Riverside and had eight boards vs. Saint Mary's to go with nine 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 3.8 rebounds. Last year, she surpassed both figures by averaging 4.6 points and 4.1 rebounds. This season, she is averaging 3.4 points and 4.3 rebounds through 24 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 4.5 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 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 3.4 points per game on 55.6 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 45.5 percent from the field. She is averaging 2.1 points and 2.2 rebounds per game.
Thou Shalt Steal
The Matadors have totaled 864 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 (118) than career fouls (107).
On the Rebound
The Matadors have grabbed 969 rebounds through 24 games, an average of 40.4 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 339 offensive rebounds for the year, an average of 14.1 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 UC Riverside. Camille Mahlknecht registered a season-high 14 rebounds in the win at Fullerton and had 12 boards vs. Utah State and UCSB.