So close, yet so far.
The CSUN women’s basketball team was well in position to pick up its second win of the season, its first Big West Conference win, and therefore, jump into the running for a spot in the Big West Tournament.
?CSUN led by as many as eight points with more than five minutes left in its game, led by six with more than three minutes left and by one with 33 seconds left, but was still unable to close out the 49ers, as Long Beach scored 18 of the game’s final 25 points to escape the Matadome with a 49-48 win.
?”This loss is a lot harder to take because it came down to the wire,” senior center Katie Holloway said.
?CSUN’s loss, its 22nd of the season, overshadowed another brilliant effort from Holloway, as she scored 23 points on 9 of 11 shooting.
Holloway, was named Big West Player of the Week yesterday, for her performance against Cal State Bakersfield on Thursday night, when she scored 26 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.
Holloway, however, was the only Matador to score in double digits and CSUN also missed 13 of 27 free throws.
?The Matadors were unable to find an answer for Long Beach State junior guard, Karina Figueroa, who scored a game-high 24 points and made 5 of 9 three-pointers. Figueroa’s fifth three was the big one, as it gave Long Beach State a 47-46 lead with 1:58 left. Junior guard Valeriya Musina and sophomore forward Brett Timmons scored 10 points apiece for the 49ers.
?CSUN thought it had the game won when sophomore forward Katrina Thompson was fouled with 33 seconds left and stepped to the foul line for a pair of free throws. Showing no signs of pressure, Thompson made both free throws to give the Matadors a 48-47 lead. Long Beach State ran down the clock, and following a timeout, the 49ers ran a give-and-go play that ended with Musina making a layup with 9.2 seconds left to put Long Beach State back in front. The 49ers then forced?a Matador turnover on its side of the court and winded down the remaining four seconds.
?Both teams had a first half to forget on offense. CSUN shot 27 percent, while Long Beach wasn’t any better with its 24 percent shooting. There was even a?stretch of nearly four minutes when neither team could put the ball in the basket. Both teams also piled up the turnovers, as CSUN committed 11 and Long Beach State committed 12. The 49ers took a 16-15 lead into the locker room.
?In the second half, Long Beach State led 19-18 when consecutive triples by Figueroa gave the 49ers a 25-18 lead. The lead reached eight before Holloway answered with five straight points, cutting the 49er lead.? Long Beach State led 31-26 until CSUN caught fire, scoring 11 in a row to take a 37-31 lead with 7:54 left. CSUN held onto the lead for almost six minutes, but Long Beach State stayed in the game, setting the stage for the aformentioned finish.
?”They (Long Beach State) attacked us pretty good the whole game, and we defended?very well,” head coach Staci Schulz said. “On our offensive end, however, we tried to do too much.”
?CSUN will continue its three-game homestand on Thursday, as it hosts the Cal State Fullerton Titans at 7 p.m.