The first timers just keep coming for the CSUN Matador women’s basketball team.
Exactly a week after defeating the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos for the first time in two decades, the Matadors picked up another significant win on Thursday, as they defeated the Long Beach State 49ers 74-60 at the Matadome.
The win marked the first time since entering the Big West Conference in 2001 that the Matadors had triumphed over the 49ers at home. The Matadors had actually won the last three meetings over the 49ers at Long Beach State’s Walter Pyramid, but Long Beach State had dominated the games at the Matadome, that was until this past Thursday.
Senior forward Ofa Tulikihihifo led the Matador attack, especially in the second half, as she scored 12 of her 16 points in the second half to pace the Matadors.
“It was a good solid game,” junior center Katie Holloway said. “It was a really good team effort by everybody tonight.”
Long Beach jumped out to an early 9-4 lead, but the Matadors soon started to heat up, going on a 9-4 run to tie the game at 13 on a three buy senior guard Jamie McCaa at 11:03. Ten seconds later, senior forward LaJoyce King scored off a rebound attempt to give the Matadors their first lead of the game at 15-13. Long Beach tied the game twice, the last time at 17 on a Timmons score, but CSUN really heated up, scoring nine in a row to take a 26-17 lead. Wade scored to stop the run, but the Matadors ran six more points and eventually went into halftime leading 38-24.
The second half though saw CSUN take control of the game. A pair of Figueroa free-throws made it a 41-28 game, but that was the closest Long Beach got the entire second half, as a King score off a rebound and a McCaa jumper raised the Matador lead to 45-28. A Tyresha Calhoun bucket stopped the mini-run, but the big run followed, as the Matadors outscored Long Beach State 12-4 over a three-and-half minute span to put themselves ahead 57-34. Tulikihihifo was the main constant in the surge, as she scored eight points during the run while making four straight shots. Tulikihihifo connected on five consecutive shot attempts during the first eight minutes of the second half.
“(Coach Schulz) kept saying ‘shoot the ball, shoot the ball,'” Tulikihihifo said. “I’m not going to let them (Long Beach State) get to me because I wasn’t on the first half.”
The Matadors led by as many as 26 at 61-35 on a Blake basket at the 10:42 mark. Long Beach got as close as 14 in the closing moments of the game, but CSUN was never really threatened. King had 14 points and 14 rebounds, junior center Katie Holloway had 12 and McCaa had 11. Karina Figueroa led Long Beach with 21 points and Calhoun had 12.
“We were just trying to work the ball around, trying to work on our offenses and trying to get it to everybody,” Holloway said of the second-half surge.
CSUN also hosted the UC Irvine Anteaters this past Saturday. The Matadors now face perhaps its biggest game of the year, as they square off with the first-place UC Riverside Highlanders at UCR’s Student Recreation Center on Thursday at 7 p.m.