Northridge, Calif- The Matadome was practically empty. CSUN women’s basketball completed its lone preseason game and only a few game staffers remained to clean up. Then there was CSUN sophomore Destiny Brooks who had remained inside the empty arena to clean up her own act.
Forget the fact she had led CSUN with 19 points and made five 3-pointers. Brooks missed all four of her free throw attempts. Not that it was entirely her fault. Her team collectively shot a dismal 6-of-19 from the foul line in its 71-64 win over NAIA opponent The Master’s University.
So 45 minutes after the final horn had sounded, Brooks was still in her uniform. She continued to shoot shot after shot.
“I have to be better,” Brooks said while repeating her same motion over and over. “One day these shots are going to count and I can’t miss them.”
For all the blame Brooks put upon herself in CSUN’s surprising tight matchup against Master’s, she is a huge part of why the Matadors could have amplified success this season.
She ended last season having one of the best games in program history by making eight 3-pointers against Notre Dame in the NCAA tournament. Talk about a big stage.
Make no mistake about what Brooks and her team faced on Halloween. Master’s isn’t an ordinary tuneup for the regular season. The Mustangs ranked No. 14 in the NAIA stuck with CSUN for the entire first half.
Master’s moved the ball effectively and led 17-14 after the first quarter. Hannah Forrar finished with a team high 11 points on 3-of-4 shooting from three and center Stephanie Soares battled with defending Big West player of the year Channon Fluker. Soares finished with 10 points and eight rebounds.
“I think we were a little bit shaky in that first half,” Master’s coach Dan Waldeck said. “Once we got more comfortable with our ball rotation in the second half that’s when we started to hit some shots. Soares is extremely athletic and will be a problem for teams in years to come. I just hope we continue to play with confidence.”
CSUN regained control in the second quarter led by Hayley Tanabe. The junior showed improved confidence in her ability to attack the basket along with a heightened awareness on the court. Tanabe finished with 11 points and nine assists with only one turnover.
“(Tanabe) is our floor general and you judge your point guards based on wins, losses, how their team does and offensively with assists to turnover ratio,” CSUN coach Jason Flowers said. “The fact that she had one turnover was huge and she did a good job of being aggressive in the first half and put pressure on them by getting to the basket. If she continues to play with that mindset, that will help us and I think in that aspect she has grown.”
CSUN has plenty of work to do before its season opener on the road against Idaho. The Matadors narrowly edged Master’s 52-49 on rebounds.
Fluker finished with 14 points 11 rebounds and three blocks to start her campaign to win her third straight Big West player of the year award.
CSUN was without key returners Claudia Ramos and Eliza Matthews. Matthews and Ramos are both rehabbing undisclosed injuries.
Written by Ethan Hanson