Matadors Push South Carolina to the Brink in NCAA Tournament

SEATTLE, Wash. ---

The Cal State Northridge women's basketball team (18-15) lost 73-58 to South Carolina Sunday afternoon in the first round of the 2014 NCAA Tournament at the Alaska Airlines Arena in Seattle, Wash. Junior Janae Sharpe scored a game-high 26 points and CSUN got to within six with roughly three minutes to play before the top-seeded Gamecocks pulled away for the win.

Playing in their first NCAA Tournament since the 1999 event, the Matadors looked anything but a 16 seed in the match-up with the top-seeded Gamecocks. After trailing by 10 at halftime, the Matadors came out firing in the second half and cut the lead to six early.

South Carolina fought back, but the Matadors again clawed back and trailed just 45-41 with 12:58 to play. The Gameocks' lead swelled back to 14 (60-46) before CSUN went on an 8-0 run to close back to within six points (60-54) with 3:03 to play.

Unfortunately, that would be as close as CSUN would get the rest of the way.

Sharpe was a terror all day for the Matadors. She hit 9-of-20 from the field and added three 3-pointers. She also finished with six rebounds and three assists in 37 minutes of action.

Bernadette Fong had a strong game off the bench. She finished with nine points, six rebounds and a steal in 16 minutes. Cinnamon Lister finished with nine points, three rebounds and four assists.

South Carolina shot 44 percent from the field and made 27-of-42 free throws (64.3 percent). Tiffany Mitchell led the Gamecocks with 25 points. The Gamecocks held a 52-36 rebounding advantage and scored 20 second-chance points in the game.

The Matadors shot 30.3 percent from the field and 73.3 percent from the free throw line. Camille Mahlknecht added four more blocks to her total to finish the year with 101, the most in program history for a single season.

Despite the loss Sunday, the Matadors had an historic season in 2013-14. CSUN won the Big West Conference regular season and Big West Tournament for the first time in program history. Northridge registered its first win in the NCAA era over USC and posted its first home win over UC Santa Barbara since 1984.

Ashlee Guay became the first Matador in program history to receive her league's Player of the Year Award and Jason Flowers received his second Big West Coach of the Year award in the three seasons. Sharpe earned All-Big West Second Team honors, Lister was All-Big West Honorable Mention and Mahlknecht was the Big West Defensive Player of the Year.

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