Shorthanded Matadors fall to UC San Diego in low-scoring game

The CSUN women’s basketball team forms a press while guard Rachel Harvey, 4, defends the UC San Diego Triton bringing the ball down the court on Saturday, Feb. 18, 2023, at the Premier America Credit Union Arena in Northridge, Calif.

Maxwell Clark, Contributor

CSUN women’s basketball produced its lowest scoring output since Jan. 19, as the shorthanded Matadors lost 57-46 against UC San Diego on Saturday afternoon.

The Matadors (5-21, 4-12 Big West Conference) were without their top two scorers as they hosted the Tritons (12-13, 9-6 Big West Conference) in their second-to-last home game of the season. Guard Jordyn Jackson was unavailable and forward Tess Amundsen went down with an ankle injury a week prior against CSU Bakersfield. With two huge holes in the lineup, the team needed other players to step up.

“We are a super young team without [Jackson and Amundsen] on the court, so it hurts, but it’s given other players the chance to get game experience,” head coach Carlene Mitchell said.

Guard Anaiyah Tu’ua was the catalyst that CSUN needed, recording 17 points, five rebounds and two assists. Mitchell and Tu’ua have been talking throughout the season about her jumping out to quicker starts offensively.

“[Tu’ua] knew without Jordyn and Tess, the scoring load was on her and she definitely has the ability to carry that load,” Mitchell said. “We have had discussions about how I would like for her to get involved a lot quicker.”

But it wasn’t until after the second half that the de facto leader heated up. She scored 12 of her 17 points in the third.

The first quarter came and went quite quickly while the fans were still walking into the arena. The Matadors found themselves up one with just under two minutes to go in the frame. UCSD center Bridget Mulllings finished an open layup, which saw the Tritons snatch the lead and never look back.

The Matadors had multiple scoring droughts throughout the game due to their high turnover rate. To start the second, CSUN scored only once in the first four and a half minutes, settling for many transition 3s and low percentage midrange shots. The Tritons took full advantage and extended their lead to 11.

Back-to-back Northridge 3-pointers cut the lead to five, but the Matadors went scoreless in the final four minutes, which allowed UCSD to bump its lead to 14 at the half. By halftime, the Tritons had seven more assists, three fewer turnovers and 17 more points off turnovers than the Matadors.

To start the third quarter, UCSD guard Sydney Brown hit a tough and-one layup to balloon the Tritons lead to 17. UCSD eventually went up 18 before a 9-0 run by Tu’ua cut the deficit to single digits. In the final minute of the period, both teams traded 3s and the Tritons expanded their lead back to double digits going into the fourth. The Matadors scored more in the third than they did in the entire first half, putting up 19 points in the quarter.

Both teams scored a lackluster nine points in the final period, with the Matadors’ first bucket coming at the 5:36 mark of the quarter. The Matadors tried to shift the momentum by playing full-court press for the final six minutes, but they fell way short. UCSD easily wiped out the Matadors, 57-46.

Mitchell knew that the team’s record did not leave them any room for error.

“I can’t look for any excuses, you know our record doesn’t give me the right to do that at this point,” Mitchell said. “Everyone knows Jordan and Tess are 30 points every night and if not more than that.”

The Matadors hope to have their two stars back when they match up against UC Riverside on Feb. 20. Mitchell explained that it is up to the medical staff if they will be back or not.