December 26, 2013

CSUN Says Goodbye to 2013 and Hello to 2014 with Contests vs. Oregon, CSU Bakersfield

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NORTHRIDGE, Calif. --- 

End of Calendar Year Brings Contests with Ducks, Roadrunners

The Cal State Northridge women's basketball team (4-8) close out the non-conference portion of its schedule with a pair of contests centered around the end of the calendar year. On Dec. 29, CSUN makes the trip to Eugene, Ore., to face the University of Oregon Ducks in a 4 p.m. contest. The Matadors then host CSU Bakersfield on Thursday, Jan. 2 in a 7 p.m. contest at The Matadome. Links for the live stats and other media will be available at GoMatadors.com.

Last week, CSUN split a pair of home games at The Matadome. Northridge picked up its first win over Northern Arizona since 2000 with a 64-52 victory. Randi Friess and Janae Sharpe each had 11 points to pace the Matadors while Camille Mahlknecht blocked a season-high six shots to set a new school record with the 150th rejection of her career. In a loss to Saint Mary's, CSUN rallied to tie the game at 60 before ultimately falling 72-60 to the Gaels. Sharpe led Northridge with a season-high 19 points.

This week, CSUN faces its final pair of non-league opposition to prepare the squad for the impending Big West campaign. Oregon is 8-2 on the year and boasts the nation's top scoring offense at an average of 106.2 points per game. Chrishae Rowe averages 24.2 per game while Jillian Alleyne (20.2) and Katelyn Looper (16.2) also average in double-figures. The Ducks average 12 3-pointers and 29 free throw attempts per game while also pulling down an average of 55 boards per contest.

CSU Bakersfield enters the week 4-6 overall and will face Fresno Pacific on Monday, Dec. 30. The Roadrunners are led by Tyonna Outland, who is averaging a team-best 19.3 points on 40.4 percent shooting for the season. Melissa Sweat (11.3) and Dajy Vines (10.2) also average in double-figures while Batabe Zempare grabs 12.4 boards per game. CSUB has won four of the past five meetings with CSUN.

Following the games with Oregon and CSU Bakersfield, the Matadors embark upon the 2014 Big West Conference season with a pair of away games. On Thursday, Jan. 9, CSUN opens the year against UC Davis at 7 p.m. Then on Sunday, Jan. 12, the Matadors venture to Hawai'i for a 5 p.m. (HT) / 8 p.m. (PT) tip off.

A Guay with Words

Junior Ashlee Guay enters Sunday's contest averaging a team-high 14.8 points per game, the top mark on the team and the eighth-best average in the Big West. After scoring a season-high 25 points, including a career-high 11 field goals, at Montana State, Guay has scored between 14-17 in every game and finished with 16 on five occasions. Guay led the Matadors with 16 points and tied a season high with six assists in the win over USC to earn Big West Player of the Week honors. She earned All-Tournament Team honors at the CSUN Thanksgiving Classic by averaging 15.5 points in games against Santa Clara and Utah State. Guay earned a spot on the Preseason All-Big West Team after a sophomore campaign when she paced the Matadors in scoring at 13.2 points per game to rank sixth in the conference. Guay needs five steals to set a new program record and 40 assists to set the career mark for that category as well.

CSUN's Secret Ingredient

Junior Cinnamon Lister has scored in double-figures in eight of the Matadors' 12 games and has led the team in scoring on six occasions. She has reached 20+ three times this year, including a career-high 24 points and nine field goals in the victory at Clemson. She poured in a team-high 20 points and a career-high five 3-pointers against BYU and posted 21 in the Matadors' contest at Washington State. She ranks second on the team and ninth in the Big West Conference at 14.2 points per game and is second in the league with 26 3-pointers on the year. Lister is one of three Matadors to average over three assists and ranks ninth in the league at 3.3 per game. She also checks in at fifth in steals per game (1.8). 

From Diamonds to Keys

Senior Mikayla Thielges continues to impress in her only season of Division I women's basketball. She leads the team in rebounding at 7.5 per game to rank fifth in the Big West Conference. She 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 three 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 4.4 points, on 55.8 percent shooting from the field, and 1.2 assists per game.

Mighty Sharpe

Junior Janae Sharpe scored a season-high 19 points vs. Saint Mary's to match her career best for the fifth time and first occasion since her freshman season. She dished out a season-high eight assists to go with nine points and five rebounds in the victory over USC. She scored a season-high 10 points and had five rebounds against Santa Clara and then dished out six assists against Utah State in the CSUN Thanksgiving Tournament. She has averaged 9.8 points over her Matador career and has been especially menacing at the free throw line. In the middle of her third season, Sharpe is 204-of-273 (.747) from the stripe and is currently 23-of-37 on the year. Sharpe is also a tough defensive asset for CSUN, having amassed 107 career steals compared to just 90 career fouls. For the season, Sharpe is averaging 8.6 points, 3.6 rebounds and 4.4 assists on the year. She ranks among the league leaders in assists per game (3rd) and assist-to-turnover ratio (3rd, 1.57) Sharpe was the 2011-12 Big West Freshman of the Year and earned All-Big West Second Team honors that year.

Mahl-Knechting the Dots

Junior Camille Mahlknecht 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. She pulled down a team-high 10 rebounds to go with a season-high five blocked shots in CSUN's win vs. USC. She recorded her first double-double of the year with 11 points and 12 rebounds against Utah State and just missed a pair of double-doubles in the Matadors' victories at Clemson and Georgia Southern. Against the Tigers, she finished with 12 points and nine rebounds while against the Eagles she totaled 10 points and nine rebounds. She is averaging 7.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game on the year. Last season, Mahlknect posted a league-high 75 and finished 25th in all of Division I at 2.34 blocks per game.

Georgia on My Mind

Junior Randi Friess finished with a season-high 11 points in the Matadors' win over NAU. Two days later, she grabbed a season-high eight rebounds vs. Saint Mary's and she added seven points and had three rebounds in the win vs. USC. Friess dished out a career-high four assists to go along with a season-high nine points in the win at Clemson. She totaled six rebounds at both Sacramento State and  Montana State and had eight points and three steals against the Hornets. Over her Matador career, Friess has averaged 3.8 points and 3.7 rebounds. Last year, she surpassed both figures by averaging 4.6 points and 4.1 rebounds. This season, she is averaging 4.3 points and 3.9 rebounds through 12 games.

Jumping Jasmine Johnson

Sophomore Jasmine Johnson has rewarded the coaching staff with increased productivity this season. 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 59.1 percent from the field. She is averaging 3.3 points and 2.1 rebounds per game.

The Bernadette Fong Show

Sophomore Bernadette Fong scored 10 points on a career-high five field goals in a career-high 16 minutes off the bench vs. USC. She produced the first double-double of her career in the game against Utah State, scoring a career-high 12 points, including a career-high four free throws, to go with 10 rebounds.  She is averaging 5.0 points and 5.1 rebounds through the first 12 contests. She finished with seven points and seven rebounds against Sacramento State. Two days later, she posted nine points and a career-high 11 rebounds, two steals and 15 minutes at Montana State.

CSUN's Block Party

The Matadors have led the Big West Conference in blocked shots the past two-plus seasons, totaling 317 rejections for an average of 4.2 per game. Junior Camille Mahlknecht is the Matadors' best rim protector, posting 153 blocks in her Matador career. She set the school career record with her 150th career rejection in the win vs. NAU. Mahlknecht averages a league-high 2.8 per game and ranks 19th in Division I as of Dec. 22. 

Thou Shalt Steal

The Matadors have totaled 788 steals over the past two-plus seasons, an average of 10.5 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 is on pace to break the school's all-time record during the 2013-14 season. Joining Guay is fellow junior Janae Sharpe, who has more career steals (107) than career fouls (90).

On the Rebound

The Matadors have grabbed 498 rebounds through nine games, an average of 41.5 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 188 offensive rebounds for the year, an average of 15.7 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 10 vs. Utah State. Camille Mahlknecht registered a season-high 12 boards against the Aggies and had 10 in the win vs. USC.

Big Conference Hunting

The Matadors' victory against USC gave the program its third win ever against a Pac-12 opponent. The win also marked the second-straight year CSUN has downed a member of the league. Earlier, Northridge's at Clemson was their first ever over an Atlantic Coast Conference opponent. The win also represented a win vs. a BCS opponent for the third-straight season: West Virginia (Big East, 2011), UCLA (Pac-12, 2012), Clemson (ACC, 2013). The win over the Mountaineers was CSUN's first against a Big East foe and the upset over nationally ranked UCLA at Pauley Pavilion was Northridge's first win over a Pac-12 opponent since 1996. The Matadors still have a contest remaining with Oregon in the non-conference slate.

Head East Young Women

The Matadors' victories at Clemson and Georgia Southern were CSUN's first wins in the Eastern Time Zone since a victory over Central Connecticut State in New York on Nov. 25, 1995. In fact, that victory over CCSU was at a neutral site, so the wins were CSUN's first true road victories in the Eastern time zone. The victories also represented the first time CSUN had won a pair of overnight road games since the 2004-05 season.