Opening its exhibition schedule on Halloween night, the CSUN women’s basketball team ended up getting the trick instead of the treat.
The Matadors managed to stay in the game against Love and Basketball, but in the end, the AAU squad didn’t show any love, defeating the Matadors 70-61 at the Matadome Tuesday night.
“We didn’t compete to the level I wanted to, and we’re going to,” head coach Staci Schulz said.
Senior forward Jazelle Burries led the Matador effort, as she scored 14 points on 7-15 shooting.
“It was pressure shots, but I was confident in taking my shots,” Burries said.
Burries wasn’t alone. Senior guard Krisztina Fuleki had 10 and fellow senior LaJoyce King and sophomore Ashley Blake had nine apiece. Senior forward Ofa Tulikihihifo, however, struggled in her first game back since coming back from a left tibia injury, as she scored four points on 1-10 shooting and 2-6 from the free throw line.
“I was kind of hesitant to shoot,” Tulikihihifo said.
CSUN got off the gate quickly, bursting out to a 9-2 lead. Blake was the sparkplug for the Matadors early on, getting two quick steals that resulted in the Matadors’ first four points. Love and Basketball, though, soon got back in the game, scoring seven in a row to tie the game.
CSUN countered with a quick 7-2 run to lead 16-11, but Love and Basketball followed with five in a row to tie the game. Two free throws by Jamie McCaa put CSUN back in front, a Danielle Rainey layup tied the game and a Tulikihihifo free-throw gave CSUN a 19-18 lead with 5:16 left in the first half. Love and Basketball, though, grabbed its first lead when Denise Woods blocked a layup by Blake, and Natalie Nakase pushed the ball downcourt and hit Jessica Cheeks for a layup, which made it 20-19 Love and Basketball.
A layup by junior center Katie Holloway wrestled the lead back, but two free throws by Denise Woods did the same for Love and Basketball. Two more free throws by Woods with just over a minute left made it 24-21 Love and Basketball at halftime.
Love and Basketball pushed its lead up to five at 26-21 on a Tanisha Johnson jumper at 19:16. Then, with Love and Basketball leading 28-23, Burries hit a jumper inside. Then, following a defensive stop, Blake hit a three to tie the game. Nakase hit one of two free throws, but a Holloway score gave CSUN its first lead since the second half.
Love and Basketball strung together five consecutive points to take a 34-30 lead, and senior guard Megan Ching cut the lead to one with a three. Then, a minute and a half later, Fuleki hit a three to give the Matadors the lead. CSUN got a defensive stop. Then, following a timeout, King rebounded a Fuleki miss and gave it back to Fuleki, who hit a three to give CSUN a 39-34 lead.
Love and Basketball, just as they did all night, countered, scoring six of the next eight points to take a 42-41 lead. Two Fuleki free throws re-gained the lead for CSUN and a King score raised it to three. Parhan cut the Matador lead back to one and a Burries score raised it back to three. Woods cut the lead to two on the first of two free throws. Woods missed the second, but April Apiafi grabbed the rebound and kicked the ball out to Nakase, who hit a three from the right corner to give Love and Basketball a 48-47 lead. Another Burries score gave CSUN its last lead of the night at 49-48. Nakase hit another three to give Love and Basketball a 51-49 lead, which was the beginning of a game-deciding 17-4 run that gave Love and Basketball a 65-53 lead with 1:46.
Parham was a force for Love and Basketball, scoring 21 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. Johnson scored 17 points, Nakase had 14 points and Woods had 11. CSUN is now 1-7 against the AAU squad.
“It’s in them,” Schulz said. “I felt like they were shooting in front of their peers for the first time, so their shots were a little short. They weren’t on 100 percent, but were going to get there.”
CSUN will close out its exhibition schedule against The Masters’ College at the Matadome on Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m.