Women’s basketball ends regular season on sour note

The CSUN women’s basketball team ended their 2004-05 regular season Saturday and is headed to the postseason later this week, for the first time since joining the Big West Conference. They hoped to close out the season at home with a couple wins at the Matadome and increase their seed in the tournament, but UC Riverside and Cal State Fullerton had other plans, as CSUN was swept by Riverside and Fullerton 63-55 and 69-55 respectively.

The nine-player Matadors squad, which had won eight of their last nine games, end the regular season with two consecutive losses and head to the tournament hoping to rebound.

CSUN shot under 32 percent, 17 of 54, from the field against Riverside, including 7 of 26 shooting in the second half, and were also out-rebounded, 43-32. Sophomore forward LaJoyce King fell just short of a double-double for the Matadors by dropping 15 points and grabbing nine rebounds in the first game against the Highlanders.

King, while shooting 4 of 13 from the field and 7 of 8 from the charity stripe, was one of three Matadors who scored in double figures. Krisztina Fuleki made 5 of 12 shots off the bench, including 2 of 7 from beyond the arc, to finish with 12 points. Fuleki also added two rebounds, two steals, and two assists.

In the first half, Heather Cushing made 2 of 7 shots off the bench, but came back strong in the second half to make 5 of 10 shots and four out of five from the line. Cushing also added seven rebounds and two assists.

Kemie Nkele, Riverside’s freshman forward and leading scorer and rebounder, matched her season average by scoring 16 points, making six of nine shots and four of six free throws. Nkele also pulled down 13 rebounds, including six offensive boards, to achieve her 13th double-double of the season.

Casandra Reeves scored 16 points (5-16 FG, 2-8 3-Pt FG, 4-4 FT), dished out six assists and grabbed 6 boards for the Highlanders. The win gave UC Riverside a 14-12 overall record, along with a 9-8 Big West Conference record.

Tammy Holder, head coach for the Matadors, was disappointed with the loss to the Highlanders, yet she was excited the team would still see postseason play, even if they lost the following game to Cal State Fullerton.

“I’m so excited for the student athletes,” Holder said. “They work very hard and they deserve it. We’ve been overachievers this year.”

In the ensuing game against Fullerton, CSUN shot just 37 percent from the field and made only 70 percent of their free throws. The Matadors were out-rebounded, 37-31, and they turned the ball over 23 times, five more than the Titans.

Cushing and Fuleki, the Matadors’ one-two punch off the bench, were the top scorers for the Matadors. They shot a combined 12-22 from the floor, five out of six shots from the free-throw line and five out of seven from three-point land. They also added six rebounds and four assists.

For CSUN, King added a solid 11 points (2-7 FG, 7-8 FT) and grabbed eight rebounds (four offensive). Three of the five starting Matadors made 0-12 field goals.

Holder went on to state that she’s proud of this team improving from a 3-24 season two years ago.

“It’s very satisfying to see the same group you had early on grow and mature and get better at certain things,” Holder said.

The Titans shot 45 percent from the field, and made 16 of 18 free throws. Fullerton’s leading scorers in the game were

Andrea Adams and Charlee Underwood with 18 and 16 points, respectively. Underwood shot the best for Fullerton making five of six shots from the field (2-3 3-Pt FG, 4-4 FT).

India McDaniel chipped in 10 points and five assists off the bench and Melanie Mosley, despite scoring only four points, grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds for the Titans who improved to 8-19 overall, and 6-12 in conference.

The Matadors end the regular season with a 17-10 overall record, to go with an 11-7 conference record. CSUN finished behind UC Santa Barbara, Long Beach State, and Idaho.

The Matadors have locked up the fourth seed in the Big West Tournament later this week. They will also receive a first-round bye and are scheduled to play their first game on Thursday against an opponent yet to be determined.