Fluker leads Matadors to victory

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Senior Channon Fluker attempts to dribble past her opponent in the win over Fullerton on Jan. 31. Fluker scored 23 points and grabbed 20 rebounds to record her 72nd career double-double and sixth career 20-20 game. Photo credit: John Hernandez

Tyler Wainfeld

Women’s basketball beat Cal Poly 68-52 on the back of senior Channon Fluker’s 23 points and season-high 20 rebounds Thursday night at the Matadome.

Fluker also recorded seven blocks in the game, falling just short of her second career triple-double, but still recording her 72nd career double-double, sixth career 20-20 game and eighth career 20-rebound performance.

“It’s just finding opportunities within the game,” Fluker said of her ability to work around being double-teamed whenever she is on the floor. “If they’re doubling me, then you just got to find a way. Somebody else is taking a shot and missing it, I just crash the boards. Just gotta find other ways to score within the offense.”

Her 23 points also brought Fluker within 13 of 2,000 for her career, which would make her the first female basketball player to do so at CSUN.

The win was a welcome relief for the Matadors, who had lost their prior two games on the road, including a one-point loss at Santa Barbara on Saturday where the Gauchos won on a free throw with 8.4 seconds left in the game.

“It was really great. I think it was great for us as a team,” Fluker said. “That Santa Barbara game was a little bit of a wake-up call for us. We needed to pull it together.”

The first half of this game was sloppy for both teams, shooting a combined 29.6 percent from the field and turning the ball over nine times each, though the Matadors were able to overcome these struggles to go in to halftime with a 13-point lead.

Graduate student Serafina Maulupe led the Matadors with eight points after two quarters, though even she did it in unsightly fashion, shooting 3-11 from the field and 2-9 from beyond the arc.

The second half was a different story though, as CSUN shot a much-improved 47.8 percent from the field while still holding the Mustangs to 30.8 percent.

“We took 18 threes in the first half and we didn’t shoot a bad percentage,” head coach Jason Flowers said about his team’s first half struggles. “We shot 33 percent which is the number you want to hit but I thought in the second half we did a better job of establishing in the paint. Whether it was getting the ball inside to our post players or whether it was our guards penetrating, I thought we did a better job of attacking the paint and playing inside-out.”

Maulupe would finish the game with the same 12 points she had in the first half, though she did add six rebounds and three assists.

Sophomore Meghann Henderson also chipped in with 10 points, six rebounds and two assists as the third Matador to reach double figures in points and one of 10 to get at least a point in the win.

“Winning is always better than the alternative,” Flowers said. “I thought for the most part, our intensity on the defensive end was better than it was in our last game. I thought we did a better job of executing at times in the half court. Again, anytime you can get a win it’s better than the alternative.”

Looking ahead

After the win, the Matadors sit at an even 12-12, though they are 6-4 in conference play, good for a tie for third place in the Big West with Hawaii.

With just six games left before the start of the Big West Tournament, the Matadors have little hope of catching UC Davis (10-1) at the top of the standings, though they do need to keep winning to avoid falling into the bottom half of the bracket.

“It’s halfway through the season so we need to push through,” Fluker said.

Their next game is on Saturday, Feb. 16 on the road at Fullerton at 6 p.m. on ESPN 3 before coming home to face Long Beach State on Thursday, Feb. 21 at 7 p.m.

The Matadors beat Fullerton 74-44 at home the last time they played on Jan. 31 while the 49ers did not fare much better, losing 51-37 to the Matadors in Long Beach on Jan. 26.