Northridge, Calif- CSUN basketball on both sides of the court have big expectations this week. The women face USC (8-0) at the Galen Center while the men are at home to face University of Pacific (8-4).
It’s proving time for both teams. The women despite beating San Diego State nearly blew a 17-point lead at home and are now facing the Trojans who defeated Big West opponents Long Beach State (86-50) and UC Santa Barbara (82-39). The win last week did solidify the emergence of freshman point guard Jordyn Jackson who scored 16 points along with a solid defensive performance in the first half against the Aztecs.
CSUN men’s basketball is still trying to find its identity defensively but redshirt freshman Lamine Diane and sophomore Terrell Gomez has provided plenty of scoring. Despite the slow start (3-6), coach Mark Gottfried has remained patient during the process with the Matadors looking for its first NCAA appearance since 2009.
Both teams have been dealing with major injuries all season. The defending Big West champions lost Hayley Tanabe who is expected to be out at least another three weeks with a sprained MCL and Rodney Henderson has been week to week with a high ankle sprain.
Here’s a breakdown of the Sunday matchups and what both teams will need to do to win.
Women’s Basketball @ USC- CSUN (5-6) is holding teams to just 25.5 percent shooting in its five wins but are allowing teams to shoot 45.9 percent in its six losses. The plan is really simple. If the Matadors play good defense, they win. It’s been an issue that has plagued CSUN especially late in games. In last week’s win over San Diego State, coach Jason Flowers called out his team’s competitive edge. How will CSUN come out against USC after having a week to prepare for one of its biggest games of the season.
Will Brooks start heating up?- Last season Destiny Brooks provided CSUN with big games late last season to help secure the Big West title over UC Davis and made eight 3-pointers against Notre Dame in the NCAA Tournament. For all the talent and skill Brooks possesses, she’s been off to a rather slow start. She is shooting just 21.1 percent from the field and 23.3 percent from distance. The good news is when the pressure is on, Brooks seems to be at her best. Her season high 15 points on 5-of-10 shooting came against No. 21 ranked Drake. Will the shining lights of the Galen Center help Brooks find her rhythm and confidence? We’ll see on Sunday.
Getting less of the Moore Sisters- Freshman Jordyn Jackson and senior Serafina Maulupe will have the task of stopping junior Mariya Moore (12 points per game) and Minyon Moore (16 points per game). Guard penetration has been an issue for CSUN in its losses and are now facing a duo who know each other as well on the court as off of it. Mariya is a transfer from Louisville who has been on the Naismith Watch list while Minyon has improved her scoring in each of her last three seasons. Jackson last week showed better signs of bringing and asserting pressure from the perimeter and Maulupe is starting to find her feel after missing all of last season due to injury.
Prediction: USC 88-61 or CSUN 67-65- Maulupe and Jackson will have to be in constant communication to track Mariya and Minyon Moore which is easier said then done. If CSUN can keep them both from getting space in the front court, it will allow Channon Fluker to operate with clinical precision on the offensive end. CSUN can win this game with ball pressure but if the Matadors allow USC to get comfortable on the offensive end, expect another rout for the Trojans over a Big West opponent.
Men’s Basketball vs Pacific- Lamine Diane is the closest thing CSUN has had to having in NBA-level talent in quite sometime and is averaging 24.8 points per game while shooting 49.7 percent from the field. That being said, Diane and the Matadors are allowing teams to score over 78 points per game.
Blair’s chance to prove worth- Orr after sitting on the bench for most of last season now has the opportunity to show the hard work he put in during the offseason has paid off. He can be used as a threat from the wing with an improved shot from 16 feet and has put on more muscle. Now he’ll need to step up defensively and suppress the penetration opponents have gotten with ease this season.
Dorsey of Dorsey- Los Angeles native Lafayette Dorsey from Dorsey high school has found a home in Stockton and is leading the Tigers in scoring (14 PPG). Dorsey is a strong defender who can get into ball handlers and then will come to the other end of the court and hit shots from deep. Expect freshman Darius Brown II to have the task of quieting the 6-foot-1 guard.
Prediction- CSUN 90-76 or Pacific 82-70. CSUN has had a week off to prepare for Sunday’s home matchup and may get Henderson back. Pacific hasn’t faced an athlete like Diane but it will have to start with the Matadors commitment on the defensive end. Pacific rotates the ball around the perimeter effectively. If CSUN continues to have hiccups, it could lead to Pacific’s ninth win.
Written by Ethan Hanson