Cal State Northridge To Take On South Carolina In NCAA Women's Tournament
Big West Women's Basketball Release No. 20
Cal State Northridge will head north to Seattle, Wash., for its first NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament game since 1999, facing South Carolina in a first round tilt on Sunday, March 23 live on ESPN.
The Matadors (18-14) were given a 16-seed in their return to March Madness, taking on the top seeded Gamecocks (27-4) out of the Southeastern Conference. The CSUN/USC matchup will precede the No. 8 Middle Tennessee State/No. 9 Oregon State game with the winners slated to face of on Tueday, March 25. All the games will be held at the Alaska Airlines Arena at Hec Edmundson Pavilion on the campus of the University of Washington.
CSUN earned the Big West automatic bid after beating UC Irvine and Cal Poly in the league tourney. The Matadors also earned the outright Big West regular season title after going 12-4 against league foes. The club is led by Big West Player of the Year Ashlee Guay who also added first team All-Big West and Tournament MVP to her award haul. The team also boasts Big West Player of the Year Camille Mahlknecht, second team All-Big West performer Janae Sharpe and Big West Coach of the Year Jason Flowers.
The Gamecocks were predicted to finish seventh by the media in the SEC, but broke through to win the schools' first outright SEC title. The squad earned an at-large invitation to the NCAA Tournament after falling in the SEC semifinals to Kentucky. USC is led by Tiffany Mitchell, who became the first sophomore in SEC history to win Player of the Year honors. Former Olympian Dawn Staley is the Gamecocks' coach and won the league Coach of the Year accolade.
BIG WEST AT A GLANCE
For Openers: Cal Poly came up short in an effort to claim back-to-back Big West Tournament titles, falling 73-58 to No. 1 Cal State Northrifge in the championship game. The No. 2 Mustangs defeated No. 3 Hawai’i on its way to the championship game.
Postseason Bid: Cal Poly’s season will continue in the Women’s National Invitational Tournament (WNIT) as the recepient of the Big West automatic berth. The Mustangs will travel to San Diego to take on the homestanding Toreros in a Thursday night first round clash.
Schlemer Goes For Two: Senior Molly Schlemer earned first team All-Big West honors for the second year in a row, one of two players in the league to do so. Schlemer averaged career highs in points (17.2) and rebounds (10.4) to claim the honor.
The Numbers Game...4: Cal Poly has made four consecutive postseason appearances, the longest streak for the club in its Division I era.
CAL STATE FULLERTON
For Openers: Cal State Fullerton lost in the first round of the Big West Tournament to No. 6 Long Beach State by a 64-60 margin. The seventh-seeded Titans finished up 2013-14 with a 12-18 overall record, posting an 8-8 mark in conference play.
Good Start: First year coach Daron Park led the Titans to their most wins and conference wins in a season since the 2009-10 campaign. That year CSF went 15-17 overall and 8-8 against Big West foes.
Trio Earns Accolades: Three Cal State Fullerton players earned praise from the league’s coaches for their efforts this season. Senior Alex Thomas was named Second Team All-Big West, junior Chante Miles earned Honorable Mention honors, while freshman Samantha Logan was placed on the All-Freshman squad.
The Numbers Game...18: Cal State Fullerton had season highs in steals (18) and turnovers forced (26) in its loss to LBSU.
CAL STATE NORTHRIDGE
For Openers: No. 1 Cal State Northridge took home the first Big West Tournament title in its league tenure last weekend. CSUN defeated No. 4 UC Irvine, 78-60, and No. 2 Cal Poly, 73-58.
The Other Firsts: In addition to claiming the first Tournament title in its Big West history, the Matadors also won their first outright regular season title and the first top seed in their league tenure.
Getting Closer: Junior Camille Mahlknecht blocked eight shots over her two Tournament games, giving her 101 for the season. That figure is a new CSUN single season record and just four shy of 10th on the Big West single season blocks list.
The Numbers Game...12: Cal State Northridge recorded the most conference wins of its Big West tenure this season with 12.
LONG BEACH STATE
For Openers: Long Beach State wrapped up the 2013-14 season in the quarterfinals of the Big West Tournament. Sixth-seeded LBSU defeated No. 7 Cal State Fullerton, 64-60, before losing to No. 3 Hawai’i, 66-52.
Making The Cut: Juniors Ella Clark and Lauren Spargo each earned Honorable Mention All-Big West honors, while the freshman pair of Raven Benton and Anna Kim earned All-Freshman Team accolades.
The Beach Plays D: Long Beach State ranks first in the Big West in turnovers forced per game (19.3) and steals per game (9.1), while ranking third in blocks (3.8).
The Numbers Game...14: Ella Clark had a career-high 14 rebounds in the loss to UH. A year ago another LBSU player set her career-high in rebounds in the tournament as Devin Hudson picked up 24, a tourney record.
For Openers: UC Davis was a quarterfinal participant in the 2014 Big West Tournament, defeating No. 8 UC Santa Barbara, 58-57, and losing a heartbreaker in overtime, 74-70 to UC Irvine.
Sydnee Does It Again: Junior Sydnee Fipps was named to the All-Big West first team for the second year in a row. She joins former Aggie Paige Minun (three years in a row) as the only players in program history to win multiple first team All-Big West accolades.
No Time For Twos: Junior Kelsey Harris is not afraid to let it fly from three-point land. Of Harris’ 109 made field goals, 86 of them are three-point baskets. That figure set an Aggie single season record.
The Numbers Game...100: Head coach Jennifer Gross was credited with 100 more points from her playing days as an Aggie, giving her 1,243.
For Openers: UC Irvine made a semifinal appearance in the Big West Tournament, defeating No. 5 UC Davis in overtime, 74-70, and falling to eventual champion No. 1 Cal State Northridge, 78-60. The No. 4 Anteaters finished the season with a 17-15 record, including a 9-7 mark in Big West play.
Kick It Up A Notch: A year after earning second team All-Big West accolades, senior Camille Buckley earned first team distinction this season. She averaged 18.5 points, 12.0 rebounds, picked up 19 double doubles and earned a spot on the Big West All-Tournament team.
Winning: The Anteaters’ 17 wins were the most for the club since a 19-win season in 1994-95.
The Numbers Game...7: UC Irvine lost seven opening games at the Big West Tournament prior to the win over UCD. The previous time the Anteaters won a game at the tourney was 2005 when current assistants Lauren Yadon and Annie Mae along with Director of Operations Miranda Forry were on the club.
For Openers: UC Riverside wrapped up its 2013-14 campaign with a pair of losses as it fell to UC Davis on the road, 78-52, then to Long Beach State at home, 89-81.
Smashed That Theory: Sophomore Brittany Crain proved a second-year slump was bogus as she earned first team All-Big West honors. Crain leads the league in scoring at 19.2 a contest and also picked up 5.9 rebounds a game. She also ranked third in three-point percentage (40.4), picked up 15 20+ point games and averaged 36.4 minutes a night to lead the league.
Simone Recognized: Freshman Simone DeCoud also received acclaim as she was named the Big West Freshman of the Year. DeCoud averaged 11.9 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game in 31.1 minutes in her rookie season.
The Numbers Game...5: The 81 points the Highlanders scored was the fifth time this season the club surpassed the 80-point barrier.
UC SANTA BARBARA
For Openers: UC Santa Barbara fell in the Big West Tournament first round to No. 5 UC Davis, 58-57.
Two Earn All-Conference Awards: Seniors Nicole Nesbit and Melissa Zornig earned honorable Mention All-Big West honors after strong seasons. Nesbit averaged 15.4 points and 3.5 assists a game, while Zornig put up 14.5 points an outing and hit 51 threes.
Haven’t Seen This Kind Of 8: The Gauchos finished in eighth place this year, the first time the Gauchos have finished in eighth since the 1985-86 campaign..
The Numbers Game...14: UC Santa Barbara has the most Big West titles in Tournament history with 14. Their most recent crown came as a No. 6 seed in 2012.
For Openers: No. 3 Hawai’i made it to the semifinals of the Big West Tournament, topping No. 6 Long Beach State, 52-49, before losing to No. 2 Cal Poly, 66-52.
Big West Honors: Seniors Kamilah Martin and Shawna-Lei Kuehu earned second team All-Big West accolades. Jackson averages 14.8 points and 9.3 rebounds per game, while Kuehu was a jack of all trades averaging 10.4 points, 4.2 rebounds 1.8 assists and 1.0 steals per game.
Control The Board: The Rainbow Wahine finished first in the Big West in rebound margin for the season (+5.6) and during conference play (+10.4).
The Numbers Game...3: Hawai’i has been a No. 3 seed in each of the two seasons in its return to the Big West.