Page 2 From The Tournament: Fluker Breaks CSUN Scoring Record
March 6 – Page 2 From The Tournament: Field Preps For Walter Pyramid, Honda Center
By Jill Painter Lopez
Fluker stars yet again with career-high
Channon Fluker made the first three baskets for Cal State Northridge in its Big West Tournament quarterfinal game against Hawaii, and she was just getting started. She was hit shots from everywhere on the floor, passed well out of double teams and made free throws down the stretch. She was the last one holding the ball as time ran out, putting the finishing touches on a career-best 39 point-game in which she led CSUN a come-from-behind 71-64 victory over Hawaii on Wednesday at The Pyramid.
Fluker - the Big West's Player of the Year - also added 12 rebounds for the Matadors.
In her first game since earning the distinction of the conference's best player, she played perhaps the best game of her career. In doing so, she set the school's single season points record of 560, breaking Ashlee Guay's mark in 2014-15.
After Fluker heard a CSUN official say she was one point away from tying the single-game points record of 40 points, she said "Dang it!"
Whitney Ligon and Edneisha Curry both had 40-point games for the Matadors. Fluker has at least another game in March to work on that record, one that would add to a collection the sophomore has built. She's also set the record for rebounding and field goals in a season.
"If she keeps working, she's going to be OK," CSUN coach Jason Flowers said with a smile. "She can end up being pretty good before it's over. ... There was the quote (I said) that the next step for her was dominating, where she and her teammates feel invincible. There were stretches during the game, especially in the second half, where she set that tone."
Third-seeded CSUN plays No 2 Long Beach State at 2:30 p.m. Friday in the semifinals at the Honda Center.
The 49ers will try to slow her early, but she was tough to guard early, often and late in this one.
"I definitely feed off my teammates energy, and they feed off me as well," Fluker said. "They're either going to get me started, or I'll get them started."
The gameplan for every opponent is to contain Fluker, but the Rainbow Wahine struggled in that department, even with double teams.
"She was remarkable," Hawaii coach Laura Beeman said. "No wonder he's player of the year. She's a handful. We had double teams from different people and positions and man and zone, and we didn't have an answer for her."
Fluker, a sophomore, followed her Big West freshman of the year campaign by being named the best player in the conference. She's improving all facets of her game this year.
The other problem for Hawaii was that Fluker found her outside shot. She made shots inside and outside and became virtually unstoppable.
"That's definitely the most (outside) shots I've taken in a game," Fluker said. "It wasn't planned. I think tonight I played and whatever I felt, I just did."
The Matadors (18-13) didn't have an answer early in the game for their shooting woes and trailed 21-11 after the first quarter. They made just 5 of 19 shots. Fluker had 9 of the 11 points in that stretch. Hawaii stretched that to a 12-point lead in the second quarter and led 35-29 at halftime. CSUN was dominating on the boards and with the ball in Fluker's hands, but it wasn't making free throws.
CSUN missed 6 of its 11 free throws in the first half. The Matadors, however, made their free throws when it counted most, hitting 10 of their final 12 free throws down the stretch. CSUN kept getting the ball to Fluker inside and Hawaii kept fouling her.
Fluker made 10 of her 18 free throws but 5 of 6 in the final two minutes.
Porter makes it rain with tournament record 3-pointers in UCSB's win over Riverside
Sarah Porter scored a game-high 31 points with a Big West Tournament record nine 3-pointers in UC Santa Barbara's 81-71 quarterfinal victory over UC Riverside. Porter made 9 of 11 3-pointers, many of them uncontested shots, and helped the Gauchos develop an effective inside-outside game.
"I was ready for whatever they give me, and they gave me a lot of open shots," Porter said.
Asked what setting a tournament record meant to her, Porter said: "It means my hard work paid off in the offseason getting extra shots up in the gym. It felt good."
Riverside had a short bench with just eight players available and couldn't keep up with Porter and 6-foot-4 center Drew Edelman. The Highlanders double-teamed Edelman much of the game, even though Porter wasn't missing from outside.
"Some of the shots Porter had were a result of Edelman being on the floor," Riverside coach John Margaritis said. "Without her, we wouldn't be double-teaming and staying back. You put Edelman in the middle and shooters outside, that's where the game was won and lost. Bonnie (Henrickson) does a really good job understanding how to get inside opportunities. If they're making shots the way Porter did ... it was an uphill battle the entire time."
UCSB still has much work to do on Friday as it faces top seed and regular season champion UC Davis which it lost to twice in the regular season.
Hawaii's season ends in disappointment
Last year, Hawai‘i was celebrating after winning the Big West Tournament and the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. The Rainbow Wahine would've had to win four games in five days, and its postseason play was over after losing to CSUN in the quarterfinals.
Perhaps the most disappointing thing for Hawai‘i was that Beeman felt her team was just starting to hit its stride.
"We were playing our best basketball, and it's disheartening that we're not able to continue playing" Hawai‘i coach Laura Beeman said. "I felt the last 4-5 games we responded to adversity on the court. The last four games, when teams punched us, we punched back. That was the message. We do have some youth on this team, and our post play has to improve. That was the big-time challenge."
Hawai‘i finished its season at 12-18.
Riverside has valiant effort in battling UCSB despite limited roster
UC Riverside had just eight players in its quarterfinal game against UCSB after injuries and a suspension limited its bench. And, forward Malou De Kergret, fouled out late in the third quarter, making for an even shorter bench.
The Highlanders ended the season at 16-15 but coach John Margaritis was pleased with his team's determination.
"For our kids to play to the last second speaks volumes about the size of their heart and how much that meant to them," Margaritis said.
UC Riverside cut the lead to one point with 3:00 in the third quarter on a pair of free throws by Michelle Curry, but UCSB pulled away in the fourth quarter. The Highlanders didn't go down easy.
Simone DeCoud was playing on an injured ankle after being on crutches earlier in the week. She didn't start Tuesday in the first round but started Wednesday. She finished with nine points on 4-for-15 shooting in her final collegiate game.
"It was emotional, but it wasn't my last game ever playing basketball, so it wasn't too sad," DeCoud said.