Led by sophomore center Camille Mahlknecht’s career night, the Matadors used disciplined and hard-nosed defense to smother the Northern Washington Eagles (0-2) en route to a 66-44 victory Thursday night at the Matadome.
Mahlknecht, who put up the best all-around game of her career tonight, finished with 22 points, 13 rebounds (seven offensive), three assists and three blocks on a career-high 21 field goal attempts. She led the game in all categories except steals and also stretched the floor by chipping in two 3-pointers, showing improvement to her jumpshot in the form of added range.
“She was really good in the first half,” said head coach Jason Flowers of his young center’s performance, which saw her putting up 18 points and 11 rebounds in the first 20 minutes. “She came prepared. She does all the extra stuff — she watches extra film, she gets extra shots up, and she puts in the effort. It was good to see her come out and see her play the way which she did tonight.”
Mahlknecht’s seven offensive rebounds led to 12 points — 10 from put-backs and two from the charity stripe. The Matadors corralled 51 rebounds on the night, 22 of them being on the offensive side of the ball.
“I just tried to play hard for my teammates,” Mahlknecht said. “I tried to get offensive rebounds and rebounds are what led to my points. They had two solid rebounders, and it’s always important to win the boards.”
CSUN’s defensive stand started in the first half, where they held the Eagles to just 20 points on 5 of 25 shooting, forced 12 turnovers and combined for seven blocks and steals. Though they themselves finished shooting only 24 of 71, the Matadors held strong defensively as they consistently made correct rotations, enabling them to contest shots down low or close out on shooters in the perimeter. The Matadors finished holding Northern Washington to 25.4 percent shooting on the night.
Flowers, however, believes his team could have done better on the defensive end.
“I think numbers are deceiving on this one, ” Flowers said. “I didn’t think we were very good defensively. We’ve made progress but we’re nowhere close where it needs to be. Statistically, we held them to a pretty low percentage, but we gave up way too many free throws and fouled them too much.”
CSUN accumulated 21 fouls, leading to 24 San Diego free throw attempts.
Sophomore Ashlee Guay, who led the team with 20 points in the season opener, had a quiet first half as she rode the bench for over 17 minutes due to foul trouble. She came out guns blazing in the second half, pouring in all 14 of her points on 6 of 10 shooting as she continually streaked down the court after San Diego turnovers for fast break layups, sometimes having to contort her way around defenders to the bucket.
“I had to turn around and not think about the fouls and just focus on the team,” Guay said. “I showed up how I should of in the first half.”
Freshman guard Marta Masoni, who nailed five shots from downtown last game, made just 1 of 5 tonight from beyond the arc, but nearly finished with a double-double, tallying nine points and 10 rebounds. Sophomore guard Randy Friess also hauled in nine rebounds for Northridge while freshman guard Breeyon Alexander gave the Matadors a boost in the second half off the bench as she went a perfect 2 of 2 from both the field and the free throw line, putting up eight points.
This game marks the second in a row starting shooting guard sophomore Janae Sharpe has missed.