CSUN Heads to Long Beach State to Conclude Big West Season


NORTHRIDGE, Calif. --- 

Matadors Face 49ers in Final Regular Season Contest of 2013-14

The Cal State Northridge women's basketball team (15-14, 11-4 Big West) heads to Long Beach State for its final regular season game of the 2013-14 season on Thursday, Mar. 6 for a 7 p.m. tip off from the Walter Pyramid. The game will be featured on Big West TV and will also feature an internet-only audio stream of the game with Ryan Stanbury and Rheina Ale calling all the action. Links for all the media for the Matados-49ers will be available at GoMatadors.com.

Last week, CSUN earned a share of the Big West title for the first time in program history by knocking off Cal State Fullerton and UC Riverside in a pair of home contests. Against the Titans, Cinnamon Lister scored a team-high 25 points and knocked down a career-high seven 3-pointers.

Two days later, the Matadors rallied from a 14-point deficit in the second half to defeat UC Riverside. Janae Sharpe led CSUN with 24 points and added eight rebounds and 10 free throws in the two-point win. For her efforts in both contests, Sharpe earned Big West Player of the Week honors for the second time this season.

With the victories, CSUN has wrapped up the No. 1 seed in the upcoming Big West Tournament at Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. The Matadors will play at noon on Friday, Mar. 14 in a Big West Tournament semifinal. If the Matadors defeat Long Beach State, CSUN will claim the league's regular season title outright.

Long Beach State enters the week at 15-13 overall and 7-7 in Big West play. The 49ers are currently tied with UC Irvine and Cal State Fullerton for fifth in the standings. Freshman Raven Benton leads the team in scoring at an average of 12.7 points per game. She is shooting 42 percent from the field and averages 5.5 rebounds per contest. Lauren Spargo (10.6) and Alex Sanchez (10.0) are also averaging in double-figures while Jade Wilson leads the team in rebounding at 5.7 per game.

Next week brings the Big West Tournament. As the No.1 seed in the tournament, the Matadors will play in the semifinals at noon on Friday, Mar. 14 in the Honda Center. The  championship game is set for 1 p.m. on Saturday, Mar. 15 and will be broadcast live on Fox Sports West PrimeTicket. 

Big West Tournament talk

Entering Thursday's contest, the Matadors have clinched a share of the Big West Conference regular season title and have wrapped up the No. 1 seed in the upcoming Big West Tournament. The first two rounds of the Big West Tournament will be played at Long Beach State. The No. 5 seed faces the No. 8 seed and the No. 6 and No. 7 squads meet on Mar. 11. The next day, the No. 3 and 4 seeds play the winners from Tuesday. On Mar. 14, the tournament moves to the Honda Center in Anaheim where the No. 1 and No. 2 seed join the fray and take on the two surviving teams from Long Beach. The winner of the Big West Tournament earns the league's automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.

Mighty Sharpe -- Big West Player of the Week

Junior Janae Sharpe 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 now has three-such performances after the two last week. 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 12.7 points and has increased that average to 15.9 per game in conference play. Sharpe is second on the team lead with 111 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 266-of-355 (.749) from the stripe and is currently 85-of-119 on the year after knocking down a season-high 10 free throws vs. Long Beach State and UC Riverside. Sharpe is also a tough defensive asset for CSUN, having amassed 121 career steals compared to just 111 career fouls.

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 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 369 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 eighth in school history with 1,158 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 225 steals in 92 games for an average of 2.4 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 16.1 points per game, the best mark on the team and the sixth-best average in the Big West. Guay is also second the league in 3-point percentage at 42.4 percent from downtown to rank 22nd in Division I.

CSUN's Secret Ingredient

Junior Cinnamon Lister has scored in double-figures 23 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 and five 3-pointers, 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 80 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. Against the Ducks, Lister drained a career-high six 3-pointers, 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 and eighth in the Big West Conference at 15.5 points per game and leads the conference at 2.86 3's per game, the 28th best average in Division I. Lister is also averaging 3.1 assists, 2.3 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game.

Mahl-Knechting the Dots 

Junior Camille Mahlknecht 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 and the Matadors' third player to receive the honor in the last five weeks. 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 7.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 3.1 blocks per game. As of Mar. 3, Mahlknecht ranks 12th 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 90 blocks on the season and has surpassed 200 for her career. She also now stands at eighth in school history with 580 career boards. A 6-3 center from Agoura, Calif., Mahlknecht has led the squad in rebounds 16 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 4.9 rebounds through 27 games.

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 6.0 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 3.9 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 2.9 points per game on 53.8 percent shooting from the field.

Thou Shalt Steal

The Matadors have totaled 897 steals over the past two-plus seasons, an average of 9.8 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 (121) than career fouls (111).

On the Rebound

The Matadors have grabbed 1,181 rebounds through 29 games, an average of 40.7 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 414 offensive rebounds for the year, an average of 14.3 per game. Individually, Camille Mahlknecht grabbed a school-record 22 rebounds in the home win against UCSB and her 12 offensive boards in the game also tied for the best mark in program history. She has led the Matadors in rebounding 16 times on the year. Mikayla Thielges grabbed a career-high 17 rebounds at Georgia Southern and  had a game-high 13 rebounds while Bernadette Fong snared a career-high 11 rebounds at Montana State and UC Riverside.

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 win 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.

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