The Matador women’s basketball team concludes its six-game odyssey away from the Matadome tomorrow night, as the team will face the 4-2 USC Trojans at the Los Angeles Sports Arena Dec. 9.
CSUN’s woes continued last week as the Matadors lost both games in Washington, falling to Eastern Washington 69-61 in Cheney Nov. 30 and Washington State 68-55 in Pullman two days later.
Against Eastern Washington, the Matadors trailed by as many as 18, until CSUN went on an 11-0 run, cutting the deficit to 62-57 with 2:12 to play. But Julie Page converted a three-point play for the Eagles to wrestle back the momentum for the Eagles, who eventually won.
The pattern continued onto the next game against Washington State, as the Matadors rallied from a huge deficit in the second half, only to stall in the game’s final moments. CSUN trailed 42-26 early in the second half, but went on an 18-7 run, cutting the deficit to five with 8:41 left.
CSUN, once again, could not sustain its momentum, as the Cougars pushed the lead back to 16 and won the game. CSUN currently has a 1-6 record.
Junior center Jazelle Burries scored a team-high 17 points against the Eagles and LaJoyce King added 10. Junior Krisztina Fuleki led the Matadors against Washington State, scoring 19 points and Megan Ching added 13 points and six steals.
“Their heart was definitely in it,” said head coach Staci Schulz. “There were a couple of frustrating moments, but they did compete. We didn’t execute defensively or offensively the way we needed to. Teams can exploit that.”
USC is ranked No. 24 in the USA Today/ESPN Poll. The Trojans accomplished that feat despite playing its first four games without its leading scorer from 2005, Brynn Cameron. Cameron had hip surgery in the offseason and returned to action this past Sunday against Texas Christian, playing 10 minutes and scoring five points in the Trojans 65-52 home-opening win.
“They (USC) were down people too, (but) they’re still good,” Schulz said.
Other players have picked up the slack for USC. Eshaya Murphy is averaging 15.8 points per game, Camille LeNoir is averaging 12.2 and Chloe Kerr is averaging 10.4. Kerr leads the Trojans in rebounding with 8.4 per game.
“We’re going to go in there and go for it,” Schulz said. “We’re going to do our game plan, hopefully defend better, shoot better and rebound better. If we do those three things right, we should be alright.”
Friday’s game can be heard on GoMatadors.com. Following its showdown with USC, the Matadors will have a week off for final exams and will return to the court against Southeastern Louisiana at the Matadome on Dec. 19 at 5 p.m.
The Matadors will hope to have senior Ofa Tulikihihifo, who is still nursing her left tibia, back in the lineup by then. She is scheduled to undergo X-rays Dec. 12.
Ivan Yeo can be reached at email@example.com.