Women’s Basketball: CSUN takes shine out of Long Beach 49ers’ so far golden season

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Women’s Basketball: CSUN takes shine out of Long Beach 49ers’ so far golden season

File Photo/The Sundial

File Photo/The Sundial

File Photo/The Sundial

File Photo/The Sundial

Mateo Melero

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File Photo/The Sundial

File Photo/The Sundial

The CSUN Matadors defeated the current first place Big West team, California State University, Long Beach, 67-52 Saturday night, delivering the first conference defeat to the 49ers this season.

The Matadors battled Long Beach for the lead throughout the two halfs before getting a sufficient lead cushion late in the game and sending the 49ers home with their first loss in two months.

CSUN came out with guns blazing in the first half against the third-ranked NCAA Division 1 team, securing the lead, but falling behind as the half played out. They exchanged the lead several times with Long Beach midway through the half, but fell behind nine points at halftime.

Slowly, as the second half played out, CSUN managed to deflect the 49ers offense and chisel their way out of a deficit. With help from a 3-pointer from senior guard Cinnamon Lister a few moments earlier, freshman center Tessa Boagni brought Northridge to tie 38-38 at 11:35 in the second half.

For the next several minutes both teams battled for the lead, but starting at 8:35, Lister landed another three that gave the Matadors a cushion against the 49ers.

Long Beach held on until the last two minutes of the game, when CSUN quelled them enough to take the gold out of their game and put them 15 points behind at the buzzer, securing a solid victory.

The Matadors shot a mediocre 39.3 percent against the 49ers for the game, but where they lacked in shooting, they made up with rebounds. The Matadors banked 55 game rebounds, 36 of which were defensive and 19 offensive.

Centers Camille Mahlknecht and Boagni mined the bulk of the rebounds against the 49ers. Boagni pulled in 10 for the game, with Mahlknecht pulling a double-double with 13 rebounds and 15 points.

Long Beach didn’t fair as well with rebounds or shooting. They took a 31.8 percent shooting average for the game, and collected 33 rebounds, most of which were defensive. The 49ers panned out their second loss for the season against CSUN, and their first since November.

Likewise, this win is a turnaround for CSUN, the reigning 2013-2014 Big West Conference champions, who started the current season with a bang, but have fluttered in and out of wins lately. They came into preconference play undefeated for seven games, including exhibition play, before losing out to Saint Mary’s College 73-63 Dec. 3.

They fluctuated in and out of success for the rest of December, suffering four losses and securing four wins. In January, they took a 60-49 loss against UC Davis in the conference opener, but recovered in the next few games with wins against the University of Hawai’i 53-46 and UC Santa Barbara 84-48.

The Matadors saw a change in lineup, and a few of last year’s primary starters were replaced by promising freshman. From the starting lineup, center Mahlknecht, forward Randi Friess and guard Lister were absent for the game against Hawai’i.

The seniors, who led the Matadors to victory last year to capture both the regular Big West Conference and Tournament, did not appear until later in the game. CSUN head coach Jason Flowers attributed the lineup change to players not playing to expectations.

In the victory against Long Beach, all seniors had to return to the lineup excluding Friess. The Matadors will face UC Riverside Jan. 29 at the Matadome. Riverside is placed third to last in the Big West Conference with a 11-8  record for the season and 2-3 in conference play.

File Photo/The Sundial

File Photo/The Sundial