The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

Got a tip? Have something you need to tell us? Contact us

Loading Recent Classifieds...

CSUN basketball still has Jamie with the rock

Special to the Daily Sundial

Junior Jamie McCaa has come a long way from the quiet desert town of Bakersfield, where she was raised. There she was part of one of the best teams in the state at North High School. Now in the San Fernando Valley as a member of the Cal State Northridge women’s basketball team, she and her teammates are fighting for position in the Big West Tournament.

“It’s a great city,” McCaa said of Bakersfield. “If I have the chance, I would go back.”

Born on Nov. 8, 1984 to John and Iris McCaa, (Jamie) McCaa grew up alongside two older brothers and became a natural athlete.

In addition to basketball, McCaa also played volleyball and softball in high school. During her four years on the North Stars’ basketball team, McCaa was chosen to the Southwest Yosemite League all-first team. She was also chosen to the all-area and all-CIF second teams on several occasions.

McCaa averaged 14 points and eight steals her senior year of high school. North High went 30-3 that year, advanced to the state finals and were regarded as one of the top eight teams in the state.

“That was a fun year,” McCaa said of her senior year. “That’s probably the year that sticks out the most. We worked hard and got great results. I loved it.”

McCaa was recruited by a number of schools, including Cal State Bakersfield and Utah Valley State College. She was also recruited by a number of Big West schools, but chose CSUN because of its location. CSUN also offered McCaa a full scholarship.

McCaa actually verbally committed to a community college in Utah, but later reneged.

“It (CSUN) was close enough to home, but far enough to get away,” McCaa said. “That all factored in and after I came and visited and met with the coaches, I liked the school. I knew it was the best choice to come here.”

McCaa admitted she was not sure what to expect when she came to CSUN. She did know, however, the level of competition was going to be better than what she experienced in high school.

“I thought everything was going to be ten times harder,” McCaa said. “The players were going to be ten times better, the practices were harder, the schedule was going to be more hectic and your life is basically basketball once you come here.”

In addition to adjusting to the demands of Division I basketball, McCaa also dealt with the responsibilities that come with living alone.

“It was rough, I got homesick a lot,” McCaa said. “I didn’t have anybody, so (I was) trying to find all new people, trying to get familiar out here. The first year was the hardest because of the new experiences.”

In 2003-2004, CSUN struggled, going 6-20 overall and 5-13 in conference.

McCaa struggled as well, averaging three points and one rebound per game. McCaa was however, one of five Matadors to appear in all 26 games.

“My freshman year, I struggled,” McCaa said. “Just trying to learn how everything works and how the coaches want you to be. But it was a great learning experience.”

After finishing last in the conference for three years straight, CSUN finally turned the corner in 2005. The Matadors went 18-11 and finished fourth with a conference record of 11-7.

The season also included an eight-game winning streak which tied the school-record for most consecutive wins in one season. The mark was previously set during the 1982-83 season.

With 18 victories, CSUN earned its first trip to the the Big West Tournament in Anaheim.

During the NCAA tournament, the Matadors earned a first round bye and played UC Riverside in the quarterfinals.

CSUN took a three-point lead with seconds remaining. But UCR’s Casandra Reeves made a three-pointer with one second left and sent the game into overtime.

In overtime, Ofa Tulikihihifo made all three of her shots and gave the Matadors their first playoff win since 1999. It was their first playoff win as members of the Big West. CSUN’s previous playoff win came as a member of the Big Sky.

The Matadors, however, would lose in the next round to UC Santa Barbara for the third time that season.

McCaa played and started in all 26 games and averaged eight points per game. She showed flashes of her scoring ability, by scoring 26 points against Pacific on Jan. 27, a game in which she shot 12-for-12 from the free throw line.

Four days later, McCaa followed that effort with a 20-point performance against UC Davis and also had two 18-point games during the season.

McCaa also showed to be a very good free-throw shooter, shooting 80 percent from the free-throw line, which ranked fourth in the Big West.

“She (McCaa) is very competitive,” head coach Staci Schulz said jokingly. “She’s competitive with her opponents with her teammates and every now and then, with the coaches.”

After the 2005 season, McCaa stayed in Northridge and trained in the off-season with junior Megan Ching and senior Cassandra Markovich to better condition themselves for the 2006 season.

“We would lift weights with our weight coach during the summer,” McCaa said. “We would try to run every single day, then when fall came around, our conditioning picked up. We worked really, really hard.”

The amount of work that McCaa did in the off-season did not go unnoticed.

“Jamie is in the best shape out of everyone on our team,” head coach Staci Schulz said in a prepared statement. “I always sensed that we were getting the firecracker that you see in her now.”

This season, CSUN was originally picked to finish third in the Big West behind UC Santa Barbara and Long Beach State, but suffered a setback prior to the start of the year.

A stress fracture of her left tibia sidelined Tulikihihifo for the beginning of the season.

For two months, the team struggled, going 3-8 in non-conference play and lost its first two conference games.

On Jan. 10, the team announced that Tulikihihifo would red-shirt the remainder of the season and would not return until the 2007 season.

“It’s rough losing,” McCaa said. “When you lose, you can’t dwell on it and keep sulking, you have to push through it and look at the next challenge.”

McCaa is among the players that have stepped up in Tulikihihifo’s absence. This season, McCaa has averaged 10 points per game. Junior LaJoyce King leads the team in scoring, averaging 11 points per game.

McCaa is confident that CSUN can turn things around and make a late-season push for better positioning for the Big West Tournament.

“We kind of got a little behind in the first half of conference,” McCaa said. “Now we know what we are up against and we know we have to work to turn it around.”

Off the court, McCaa enjoys going to the beach, listening to music and spending time with family and friends.

McCaa’s personal favorite sports moment was when she broke the valley assists record, in high school.

The Matadors’ next home game will be part of a double-header on Feb. 4. The team will take on game UC Davis at 1 p.m. The second game of the double-header will be men’s basketball playing UCI at 4 p.m.

Ivan Yeo can be reached at

More to Discover