Page 2 from the #BWT: Matadors, Highlanders Win in #BWT Tip-Off
By Jill Painter Lopez
It was an uncanny finish of consecutive turnovers on inbounds passes that provided the final exclamation mark in the CSUN women’s 62-57 first-round win over Hawaii in the Big West Tournament Tuesday at Cal State Fullerton.
Nursing a three-point lead with nine seconds left, CSUN had the ball after a Channon Fluker offensive rebound with 13 seconds left. The Matadors called a timeout with nine seconds left to set up a play but turned the ball over when they were called for a five-second violation on the inbounds pass. Tessa Boagni couldn’t find a teammate to pass to with Hawaii’s stingy defense. Hawaii called a timeout with nine seconds left and also had an inbounds pass with an opportunity to tie the game with a 3-pointer, trailing 60-57.
Sarah Toeaina made a bounce pass on the inbounds play that Boagni intercepted and was fouled with four seconds left. She made both free throws to ice the game.
“I felt really bad about turning the ball over,” Boagni said. “I was appreciative that we were able to get it back. Coach (Jason Flowers) is always on us about defense. Every time up and down the floor he tells us to jump up and down, and that’s what I tried to do. I just wanted to get it back for my team. I didn’t want my season to end.”
Neither did Hawaii, but coach Laura Beeman wasn’t dwelling over the turnover off the inbounds pass that negated a chance to run the offense and try to tie the game.
“That’s one of the plays people remember, but how many prior possessions were there that affected the game?” Beeman said. “It’s the missed layups, the turning the ball over in transition, not getting the offensive boards. That’s the position you want to be in when you’re making a comeback ... There were some crazy plays at the end of the game to force the ending we had.”
Fifth-seed CSUN (16-15) will play fourth-seed UC Santa Barbara (12-16) in the quarterfinals on Wednesday.
UC Riverside needed just five days to reverse a loss to Long Beach State from last week. That was just enough time to make adjustments against the 49ers, which had won five consecutive games before the tournament.
The Highlanders (10-21) lost to Long Beach State 70-58 in the Big West regular season finale on Thursday, but followed that loss with a decisive 79-66 victory Tuesday in the first round of the Big West Tournament presented by MemorialCare.
“What we were trying to do was give ourselves better looks,” UC Riverside coach John Margaritis said. “The last game, we didn’t really do that. And also try to defend some of the things we thought they did well against us. I think it’s easier to prepare for an opponent if you lost than if you won because you can look at the situation and say, ‘If I would’ve done this and I would’ve done that,’ four days later we were able to correct that and that’s what happened.”
Curry also happened. The senior guard nearly had a triple double with 20 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists. It was her fourth double double of the season.
“That’s her strength. That’s what she does,” Long Beach State coach Jeff Cammon said. “She imposes her will with toughness and athleticism. She’s a grown woman.”
Curry was one of three double-digit scorers. Lauren Holt had a team-best 22 points, and Tianna Eaton, who was in the starting lineup for just the fifth time this season, added 19 points.
Margaritis made a couple of changes to his starting lineup for defensive purposes and that strategy worked as well.
“We came together as a team and just put more effort into working harder on the defensive and offensive side,” Curry said of the difference between the two games in the last week.
UC Riverside also outrebounded Long Beach State, 44-30, and 14 of those were offensive rebounds. That went a long way in the win.
No. 6 UC Riverside will face No. 3 UC Irvine (18-12) on Wednesday in the quarterfinals of the Big West Tournament presented by MemorialCare.
1,000-POINT MILESTONE, CHECK!
Talk about a special game for Tesaa Boagni. Not only did she have the steal that sealed the victory for CSUN, Boagni reached the career 1,000-point mark with the Matadors.
“It’s pretty cool, but we’re looking to get a ring,” Boagni said. “That’s the goal.”
Flowers, who played college basketball at UCLA, was proud of Boagni’s accomplishment.
“Tess scoring 1,000 points, obviously that’s a benchmark for a player,” Flowers said. “If you score 1,000 points, that means you’ve left your mark on a program. Her growth, for her to have that accomplishment, she’ll have that forever. That’s big-time.”
Boagni, sitting next to Flowers at the postgame press conference, then thanked him.
HAWAII SEASON ENDS AGAINST CSUN ... AGAIN
Two years ago, Hawaii was celebrating its Big West Tournament championship victory and qualified for the NCAA Tournament. But the Rainbow Wahine’s postseason tournaments have ended in frustration two years running and both times were to CSUN.
Two-time MVP Channon Fluker frustrated Hawaii again. She scored 24 points and added eight rebounds in Hawaii’s 62-57 loss to CSUN. Last year, she scored a career-high 39 points in the quarterfinal win over Hawaii.
The Rainbow Wahine executed their game plan on many occasions, forcing her to attempt long-range jump shots, but Fluker knocked them down. She made 9 of 17 shots.
“Off the record, she makes me mad. She’s a fabulous player, she really is,” Beeman said. “... I would much rather have her take those shots she did than pound the paint against our post players. I thought our game plan was really good. What you want to do is hope she misses some of those shots because last game against Long Beach State she did. She did not shoot the ball the way she did tonight. To have her shoot the 10-12 footers, that’s OK with me.”
Fluker was making those usual shots in the paint, and those outside shots, too. Her performance, coupled with Boagni’s 19 points, was too tough to overcome for Hawaii.
Beeman was already thinking about the offseason and necessary improvements to get Hawaii back to championship form.
"There's a challenge for these young ladies," Beeman said. "Not going to the postseason for the University of Hawai'i is not acceptable, and it has to stop. Our offseason is going to start with a thunder."
Hawaii finished its season at 12-18.
WILSON LEAVES HER MARK IN FINALE
Cecily Wilson scored 22 points and added five rebounds and four steals for Long Beach State in its first-round loss to UC Riverside.
“I was just attacking the basket,” said Wilson, a senior guard. “I really wanted to win, so I was trying to make it happen any way I could. I was feeling good.”
Wilson’s 22 points tied for a game-high with the Highlanders’ Lauren Holt. Wilson made 8 of 16 shots. She’s played through a litany of injuries - knee, shoulder, concussion - this season, so many that oftentimes she couldn’t practice.
First-year coach Jeff Cammon was proud of Wilson and the mark she’s left on Long Beach State, which finished its season at 8-23 and had won five straight before Tuesday’s loss.
“This young lady, she’s practically on one leg. She hasn’t been practicing,” Cammon said. “Then she comes in and plays like a warrior. She’s probably one of the best competitors I’ve coached at any level. She’s tough. She competes on both ends of the floor. She wants it. She cares. I’m hoping that she rubbed off on our younger players, and I think she has. She’s an incredible young woman on and off the floor. It’s going to be hard to fill her shoes going forward.”