The UC Riverside Highlanders had no love to give to the Matadors on Valentine’s Day and served them a heart-smashing 62-41 beating.
The Matadors continued to put up low first-half numbers, but on Saturday, they weren’t able to make up for it in the second half like they usually do.
Only scoring 24 points in the first half, there was little room for error if they were to come back. The Highlanders went into the locker room with a comfortable 14-point lead and that was as closes as the Matadors got the rest of the game.
The impact player for the Highlanders was Kemie Nkele, who had 23 points and eight rebounds. The 6-foot-1 senior is one of the top players in the league and she continued to show it on Saturday.
As the premiere player in the Big West Conference, Nkele ranks No. 2 in scoring, rebounding and 3-pointers made. On Saturday she led both teams in scoring and rebounds.
For the Matadors, Blake was 4-of-11 on 3-pointers, finishing the night with a team-leading 14 points. Blake was the only Matador to hit a three as CSUN was 4-of-18 from behind the arc.
Blake has stood out as one of the top shooters for the Matadors this season. Though she may be overlooked because of the performance of teammate Whitney Ligon, who is No. 9 in total points in the Big West, Blake is currently fourth in the conference for 3-pointers made.
The records show that the Matadors can score, but the results of their latest games beg to differ.
In their last four games, the Matadors have been outscored by an average of 10 points. In their only two conference wins, CSUN scored 88 and 87 points respectively. They haven’t scored beyond 70 points in any of their Big West losses.
Scoring in the first half has also been a problem for the Matadors. In their game against Long Beach State on Wednesday, the Matadors went 6-of-28 overall in the first 20 minutes.
CSUN usually comes out stronger in the second halves. The Matadors have averaged 34 points in those, in contrast to 26 in the opening halves.
Though the difference may not be drastic, twice this season in conference play CSUN scored less than 20 points in the first 20 minutes.
The Matadors are currently in eighth place in the Big West and are close to falling into last place, where UC Irvine currently resides. CSUN has a chance to try and repel the danger on Wednesday when the Anteaters visit the Matadome. They will need a win to give them a small boost as they also host Cal State Fullerton on Saturday.
The Titans were one of the teams CSUN was able to beat in the Big West. UC Irvine, on the other hand, was able to defeat the Matadors with a last-second shot on Jan. 24 at Irvine. It will not only be a fight to stave off elimination, but also a payback match.