The CSUN women’s basketball team faced what normally would have been a fairly easy two-game road trip last weekend.
However, without leading scorer and rebounder, Ofa Tulikihihifo, the challenge greatly increased.
Traveling to Stockton to play Pacific, the women pulled out a 63-57 victory without their star. In the second game, the Matadors pulled out another thriller, 76-68 against a tougher then expected UC Davis team, in overtime.
Without Tulikihihifo, and the scoring and rebounding she normally provides, the win would have to come from multiple players and it most certainly did.
Against Pacific, LaJoyce King had her normal, solid game with 13 points and 10 rebounds, but it was the other players who really came through.
Krisztina Fuleki came off the bench to score 15 points, including three of four from three-point land and Heather Cushing also came off the bench to score11 points and grab seven rebounds.
The Matadors bench turned out to be the difference maker, outscoring Pacific’s 28-17.
Jamie McCaa also scored 10 points as the Matadors looked to start another winning streak, after having had their previous streak stopped at eight by UC Santa Barbara, last week.
For Pacific, Kelsey Lavender came off the bench to lead the team with 13 points.
Carolina Ruiz had 12 points, nine rebounds and three blocked shots. Leading scorer, Tina Sanerivi also scored 12 as the Tigers fell to 5-19 overall and 2-14 in conference.
In the next game against Davis, Fuleki started right where she left off against Pacific, tying her career-high with 27 points, including two crucial three-pointers in overtime.
Overall, Fuleki made 10 of 16 shots, five of nine from three land and two of three from the free throw line, leading the Matadors to their tenth win in their last 11 games and pushing them to a season-high nine games over .500 at 17-8.
Also for CSUN, King grabbed a career-high 19 rebounds to go along with her 11 points, six assists and four steals as the Matadors, coupled with Idaho’s 78-75 loss to Long Beach State, moved into third place in the Big West with an 11-5 conference record.
Cushing, starting this game, after her big game previously off the bench, had another solid performance with 14 points and four rebounds.
Katie Holloway came off the bench to score six points and grab10 rebounds and the Matadors out-rebounded another opponent by a wide margin, 54-28.
However, the big difference was again the Matador bench, which outscored the Aggies bench 39-0.
The Aggies did get big contributions from Jessica Campbell (24 points) and Jackie Turpin, who had 22 points, six rebounds, five assists and a game-high seven steals.
CSUN held the Aggies leading scorer, Ellen Porshneva to just six points on two of seven shooting.
The Matadors now come home to close out their regular season against UC Riverside and Cal State Fullerton.
With two wins, they will guarantee themselves of a first round bye in the Big West Tournament
CSUN will also hope for Cal Poly and UCSB to defeat Long Beach State over the weekend, which coupled with two Matador wins, would give the Matadors a second round bye as well.