Despite Loss at CSUN, Titans Clinch Big West Tourney Berth

Box Score (PDF)

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. – Cinnamon Lister poured in 25 points, while teammate Janae Sharpe added 22 points as Cal State Northridge cruised past Cal State Fullerton 79-59 at The Matadome on Thursday night.

Despite the loss Fullerton (10-16, 6-7 Big West) still clinched a Big West Tournament berth as the Titans hold a four-game advantage over last place UC Riverside with three games left to play. Senior Alex Thomas led the Titans with 27 points on 6-of-13 shooting, while knocking down a career high 12 free throws. Senior guard Brianna Barfield also chipped in with a career high 13 points in the loss. 

Cal State Northridge improves to 14-14 overall and 10-4 in conference play and remains tied for first place in the conference with Cal Poly. The Matadors got big performances tonight from their guards as Sharpe scored 25 points on 8-of-15 shooting and dished out a game-high five assists, while Lister added 22 points, including seven three-pointers. Junior forward Camille Mahlknecht added four points, grabbed seven rebounds, and blocked four shots in the winning effort.

To open the game the Matadors connected on back-to-back three-pointers, but Thomas scored the next five points for the Titans as they trailed 6-5 after the first three minutes. Fullerton and CSUN then found themselves trading baskets until three-pointers by Sharpe and Lister put CSUN up seven, 20-13 with just over 10 minutes remaining.

The Matadors then displayed their three-point shooting ability as they connected on 9-of-19 first half three-pointers and behind 53.3 percent shooting from the field built a 15-point advantage, 37-22 with 4:12 left.

However, Thomas kept the Titans in it with 18 first-half points and Fullerton trailed at the half 44-30. Sharpe and Lister combined for seven of the nine first-half threes by CSUN as they scored 17 and 12 points, respectively.

In the second half, the Titans were never able to make a good run and cut the Northridge lead down to single digits as CSUN sustained its hot shooting as they led by as many as 30 at one point. 

The Titans finished the game shooting 31.9 percent from the field and 35.3 percent from three-point range, while Northridge shot an impressive 53.8 percent and knocked down 15 three-pointers.

The Titans now head to Long Beach, Calif., to take on rival Long Beach State on Saturday, March 1 at 4 pm at the Pyramid.

Notes: Tonight's meeting marked the 48th all-time meeting between the Titans and Matadors… Fullerton is now 32-16 all-time in the series and moves to 13-13 against CSUN in Big West play… The Titans are now 16-8 at the Matadome and have dropped the last seven contests against the Matadors… Brianna Barfield made her first start of the season tonight.