With fresh faces, the Matadors downplay talk of a three-peat

CSUN+women%27s+basketball+coach+Jason+Flowers+displays+his+two+Big+West+Championship+rings.+Photo+credit%3A+Alejandro+Aranda

CSUN women’s basketball coach Jason Flowers displays his two Big West Championship rings. Photo credit: Alejandro Aranda

Javier Cabrera

The CSUN women’s basketball team’s season starts Friday.

The team plays 15 non-conference games starting this week against The Master’s College.

It also has games against the University of San Diego, Penn State University, the University of Utah, San Diego State University, Portland State University and Arizona State University.

CSUN won’t see any Big West Conference action until Jan. 7 against UC Davis.

The Matadors were ranked No. 4 in the preseason conference poll. They are expected to finish behind the University of Hawaii, UC Riverside and Cal Poly.

Despite the modest prediction, the Matadors have not changed the way they approach this season.

“The expectations don’t change,” said CSUN women’s basketball head coach Jason Flowers. “It’s been the same since we walked on campus.”

The two-time defending Big West Conference champions will have a different team this season.

“We’re not talking about winning three straight [conferences] or any of that stuff,” Flowers said. “This team is doing what it needs to do every single day to win its first championship.”

The team will be led by senior forward Jasmine Johnson, junior guard Emily Cole and sophomore center Tessa Boagni.

Although they were not the cornerstones of last season’s championship team, those upperclassmen understand that they have championship pedigree, regardless of preseason predictions.

“We are a good team, and we’re coming out there to prove people wrong,” Cole said.

Last season the team finished 23-10, 11-5 in the Big West Conference. It defeated Hawaii to win the conference title before being knocked out in the first round of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament by Stanford University.

Boagni averaged five points and four rebounds per game while receiving all-freshmen team honors in the conference last season.

Cole led the team with 31 three-pointers last year while Johnson had career highs in points and rebounds, including the 15 rebounds she had at UC Davis.

The trio will be joined by sophomores Caroline Gilling, Katelin King along with four transfers and five freshmen.

The team will collective try to fill in the shoes of Ashlee Guay, Janae Sharpe and Cinnamon Lister, who finished their CSUN careers last season.

They made up more than half of the team’s offense last year as Guay handled the ball at the point.