Northridge, Calif- It looked like the night was going to be easy for CSUN. The Matadors held a 17 point lead and defensively resembled the foundation of last season’s Big West title team.
If only things were that simple.
CSUN almost let freshman guard single-handedly Sophia Ramos take the game over before Channon Fluker blocked a potential game-tying shot with 6.5 seconds and the Matadors held on to win 77-74.
Ramos scored a game-high 28 points and made all seven 3-pointers in the second half including six in the fourth quarter.
“I think the problem that we have right now is that we are lacking competitors right now both as a team and as individuals,” CSUN coach Jason Flowers said. “I don’t understand how we allow ourselves into these lulls. That can’t happen. My job as a coach is to have my team disciplined and we didn’t have it and I’ll take responsibility on that end.”
The near letdown in the fourth quarter for CSUN (5-6) overshadowed a solid first half effort that saw the Matadors play its best defense all season long. The Matadors for San Diego State to commit turnovers in the first half and led to easy transition points on the other end for senior Serafina Maulupe and freshman guard Jordyn Jackson who made her second start.
Maulupe finished with 22 points and seven assists and Jackson had 16 points and made all three of her 3-pointers in the first half.
“I thought when we first came out as a team we just came out with a togetherness and a mindset defensively,” Maulupe said. “When we do that as a team good things happen and we did that at least least in the first half.”
CSUN lost Eliza Matthews midway through the third quarter who came down hard on her left shoulder. It’s the second key piece the Matadors lost after starting point guard Hayley Tanabe suffered a sprained MCL against California Baptist. Tanabe is expected to be out for at least a month. There is no timetable on when Matthews will return.
Injuries are a familiar occurrence for CSUN the past few seasons who lost Maulupe with a Torn ACL last season. The loss of Matthews left a huge hole in the Matadors defense in the fourth quarter.
Fluker in the end showed her value by scoring eight of her 18 points in the fourth quarter and finished with 11 blocks and seven rebounds.
CSUN will have a week to rest before facing USC next Sunday at the Galen Center.
Written by Ethan Hanson