Women’s basketball kicks off season against perennial powerhouses

Illustration

David Mesquita

Illustration

Benjamin Miller, Reporter

CSUN women’s basketball returned from its first road trip of the season empty-handed after losing consecutive games to three Pac-12 Conference universities. The Matadors lost to UC Berkeley by a score of 56-86, second-seeded Stanford University 40-104, and finally the University of Arizona 47-87.

It was a tough start for the Matadors, who have not opened a season with three straight losses since 2019-2020, when they did not get their first win until the fifth game of the year. Over this three-game stretch to start the season, the Matadors have been severely outperformed by their opponents, while only leading in two statistical categories: turnovers and fouls.

Each game this season has featured a different leading scorer for the Matadors, showing that the team can spread the scoring around and put points on the board in a multitude of ways.

In the first game against Cal on Nov. 7, graduate student Tess Amundsen led the team in scoring with 10 points, followed by Jordyn Jackson with eight. Amundsen finished the game with a third of the Matadors’ total 3-pointers made, going 2-3 from deep.

Amundsen also ranks top two on the team for point totals every game so far this season, which comes as no surprise as she finds herself in the top three for minutes played, free throws and 3-point field goals. Last season, Amundsen started all 28 games and led Division I women’s basketball in 3-point shooting percentage with 49.1%.

CSUN women’s basketball plays against the University of San Diego at The Matadome in Northridge, Calif., on Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021. (Carolyn Burt)

The game against Cal was relatively close at the start. The Matadors were only down 10 points at the half with a score of 23-33, before the Golden Bears caught fire in the third quarter. By the start of the fourth the score had ballooned to 38-66, a difference the Matadors would not be able to make up before the end of the game.

They then went on to face Stanford on Wednesday, Nov. 9, in their second game of the road trip. Cheyenne Givens took charge, leading the team in scoring off the bench while finding ways to fill up the stat sheet. Her impact was felt on the floor, in a game where buckets were hard to come by for the Matadors. She finished the night with eight points, two assists, one rebound and one steal in only 17 minutes of play.

Her performance was not enough to overcome a stale shooting night for the Matadors, a game where the team averaged 25% from the field and 21% from behind the arc. The Cardinals won the game against the Matadors by a large margin, 40-104. It is the first time since the 2016-2017 season that CSUN allowed an opponent to score in the triple digits, when they lost to the University of Washington 44-101.

The Matadors’ final game of the road trip almost mirrored their match from last year, when the Wildcats handed CSUN a loss in their first game of the season on Nov. 13, defeating the Matadors by a final score of 47-87. Arizona dominated the first quarter, scoring 28 points to the Matadors’ six, and CSUN could not overcome that deficit. When they met just a season ago, the game ended with a nearly identical score of 44-87. Similarly, Arizona held CSUN to five points in the first quarter the last time they met.

In that final game against the Wildcats, the Matadors found their stride with a trio of players scoring in double digits. This time the leading scorer was Jackson, who scored 12 points, with half of them coming from the charity stripe. Jackson played 34 minutes, more than any other player on the court. Amundsen left her mark on the game, giving an all-around effort to lend CSUN 10 points, four rebounds and three assists. She was perfect from the free-throw line, with six of her points coming off fouls.

Michelle Duchemin earned her way into the starting lineup for the first time this season and immediately took advantage of that opportunity. Duchemin found ways to score from the field in a game dominated by free throws. She scored 10 points on 4-11 shooting, making and taking more shots than any other player on the team that night. This scoring trio was not enough to help the Matadors overcome their plunging 3-point shooting that night, as they shot 6% on 1-16.

The Matadors will finish up their current four-game homestand on Thursday, Dec. 1, against the University of San Francisco, before going back on the road to face the University of San Diego on Dec. 6.