Women’s Basketball: Guay’s last second heroics lift Matadors over Riverside

Kevin Kiani

Senior forward Jianni Jackson elevates for two against UC Riverside. Photo credit: Loren Townsley / Photo Editor

Sophomore guard Ashlee Guay’s game-winning layup with three seconds left lifted the Matadors (15-15, 9-9 Big West) over UC Riverside (11-18, 4-14) and gave CSUN the sixth seed going into the Big West Tournament next week.

With 13 seconds left and the Matadors down by one, the ball was inbounded to Guay who made a hard drive to the basket, jump stopped, spun and scooped it in to give Northridge the lead and ultimately the win on senior night.

“I know we needed to score so with the seconds running down, I had to do what I had to do,” Guay said. “My last shot doesn’t matter, through the whole game everyone was working hard and if my teammates didn’t set me up, the play wouldn’t have worked.”

Guay scored 11 points and had four steals in 39 minutes but the Matadors were led in scoring by junior guard Haley White who asserted herself offensively with 13 points and six rebounds off the bench.

“I just wanted to be aggressive and stay in the flow of the offense. By me being aggressive it opens things up for my teammates,” White said.

Both teams struggled from the field in the first half as the Matadors shot 37 percent (10-27) and Riverside shot 35.5 percent (11-31). The teams ended the half in a 28-28 tie with no team able to pull ahead.

“Both teams turned the basketball over and we gave them too many easy baskets,” said head coach Jason Flowers. “We just weren’t as sharp as I wanted us to be.”

Coming out of halftime, the Matadors raced out to a 17-8 run capped off by a steal and layup by Guay. CSUN capitalized on Riverside’s mistakes as they poured in 19 points off of 24 Highlanders’ turnovers.

“We came into the game putting a lot of pressure on them. We wanted to press and make them tired,” Guay said. “We want to run on them because our offense is predicated on our defense.”

UC Riverside fought back from an 11 point deficit when a 3-pointer from Highlander freshman guard Brittany Craingave them their first lead of the second half with just 45 seconds left.

Coach Flowers was impressed by his team’s resiliency and poise in the chaotic last minute of the game.

“I wanted to let the kids play and decide the game,” Flowers said. “We work on things all year for these situations and our kids stepped up. I thought they did a great job of making plays and getting the job done.”

The Matadors have now won two games in a row and they will begin the conference tournament next Tuesday March 12 against UC Davis (13-16, 8-10 BWC).