Matadors defeat 49ers to stay in race for Big West lead

Junior+guard+Janae+Sharpe+drives+through+the+Long+Beach+State+49ers%27+defense+to+reach+the+basket+during+the+Matadors%27+77-54+win+at+home+Saturday.++Sharpe+finished+the+game+with+18+points.++Photo+Credit%3A+Trevor+Stamp+%2F+Daily+Sundial
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Matadors defeat 49ers to stay in race for Big West lead

Junior guard Janae Sharpe drives through the Long Beach State 49ers' defense to reach the basket during the Matadors' 77-54 win at home Saturday.  Sharpe finished the game with 18 points.  Photo Credit: Trevor Stamp / Daily Sundial

Junior guard Janae Sharpe drives through the Long Beach State 49ers' defense to reach the basket during the Matadors' 77-54 win at home Saturday. Sharpe finished the game with 18 points. Photo Credit: Trevor Stamp / Daily Sundial

Junior guard Janae Sharpe drives through the Long Beach State 49ers' defense to reach the basket during the Matadors' 77-54 win at home Saturday. Sharpe finished the game with 18 points. Photo Credit: Trevor Stamp / Daily Sundial

Junior guard Janae Sharpe drives through the Long Beach State 49ers' defense to reach the basket during the Matadors' 77-54 win at home Saturday. Sharpe finished the game with 18 points. Photo Credit: Trevor Stamp / Daily Sundial

Mateo Melero

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Junior guard Janae Sharpe drives through the Long Beach State 49ers' defense to reach the basket during the Matadors' 77-54 win at home Saturday.  Sharpe finished the game with 18 points.  Photo Credit: Trevor Stamp / Daily Sundial

Junior guard Janae Sharpe drives through the Long Beach State 49ers’ defense to reach the basket during the Matadors’ 77-54 win at home Saturday. Sharpe finished the game with 18 points. Photo Credit: Trevor Stamp / Daily Sundial

The Matadors (8-12, 4-2) recovered from their home loss against UC Irvine on Thursday and defeated the Long Beach State 49ers (10-9, 2-3) 77-54 Saturday at the Matadome.

Winning the opening tip-off, Cal State Northridge started with a layup from junior guard Janae Sharpe, establishing a game-long lead that was widened beyond Long Beach State’s reach in the second half.

Cal State Northridge junior guard Ashlee Guay said her biggest concern was adjusting to the 49ers’ varying defensive tactics.

“We needed to make sure that we stayed in our offense and played our game instead of breaking down to their defenses,” said Guay.

At the end of the first half CSUN held a seven-point lead but surrendered nine steals and 12 turnovers to Long Beach.

“In the first half we were kind of making a lot of turnovers.” said junior guard Cinnamon Lister, who leads the Matadors in scoring this season.

Long Beach State junior guard Lauren Spargo sank a three-pointer at the 11:03 mark of the first half only to be returned on the next play by Northridge’s Guay to extend the lead to ten.  Guay led the game with 21 points.

Northridge gave up a total of 19 turnovers to Long Beach State. Despite swiping 10 steals, the 49ers were unable to close the gap and fell into a deficit during the last 10 minutes of the second half they were unable to catch up.

“We picked up our rebounding this game which was very important,” said Guay.

In Thursday’s loss against UC Irvine, Northridge’s 14 rebounds and three steals in the second half weren’t enough secure a win.

“After Thursday’s game, rebounding was a big focus in discussion,” said head coach Jason Flowers.

Northridge secured 53 rebounds from Long Beach, compared to 34 at UC Irvine.

CSUN led the 49ers on the stat sheet as they landed 36 percent of its 3-pointers and 80 percent of its free throws. Long Beach State shot only made 26.3 percent of its 3-pointers and 52.4 percent of its free throws.

Coming in with 18 points, including 10 from free throws, Sharpe stayed close behind Guay in scoring. Long Beach State freshman forward Madison Montgomery was the 49ers’ top scorer with 10 points.

With the win against Long Beach State, Northridge now stands in third place behind Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Hawai’i in the Big West Conference. Long Beach State now shares 6th place with UC Irvine.

CSUN’s next game is at the UC Riverside Highlanders on Jan. 30. Riverside sits last at 0-6 in the Big West  Conference.

“Our performance has been ok,” said Lister. “But we have to stay consistent and get another win on the road.”

Concerning the conference game against Riverside, Flowers said that the Matadors are prepared for the road game.
“They’re a well-coached team on offense, they’re going to run motion, they’re going to set a lot of screens,” said Flowers. “It’s going to be a challenge.”