March 4, 2014
Cal State Northridge (15-14, 11-4 Big West) at
Long Beach State (15-13, 7-7 Big West)
Date: Thursday, March 6
Time: 7 p.m. (PST)
Location: Long Beach, Calif.
Arena: Walter Pyramid
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UC Riverside (6-21, 2-12 Big West)
Date: Saturday, March 8
Time: 7 p.m. (PST)
Location: Riverside, Calif.
Arena: SRC Arena
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The Long Beach State women's basketball team closes out the regular season this week when it plays host to Cal State Northridge on Senior Night, before traveling to UC Riverside.
The 49ers are set to face the league-leading Matadors on Thursday, March 6, and will then take on the Highlanders in their regular-season finale on Saturday, March 8. Tip-off for both contests is slated for 7 p.m.
BIG WEST STANDINGS
LBSU enters the final week of the regular season tied for fifth in the Big West standings with UC Irvine and Cal State Fullerton. The trio is one game behind UC Davis, who is in fourth, and two games back of third-place Hawai'i. Cal State Northridge has clinched at least a share of the regular season championship and the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament. The 49ers can still finish as high as the No. 3 seed and as low as the No. 7 seed.
Long Beach State will honor its only senior, Jade Wilson, after its game against CSUN on Thursday. Wilson is averaging 6.0 points and a team-high 5.7 rebounds per outing, while she is also tops on the squad with 45 steals and 33 blocked shots. On the season, the Tempe, Ariz., native has seven double-figure scoring games, two double-doubles and has led the 49ers in rebounding 10 times.
SCOUTING THE MATADORS
Cal State Northridge (15-14, 11-4 Big West) clinched a share of the regular season championship and the tournament's No. 1 seed with a pair of victories over Cal State Fullerton and UC Riverside last week. The Matadors have won eight of their last 10. They are led by Ashlee Guay, who is averaging 16.1 points and 4.0 assists per outing. Cinnamon Lister has also registered 15.5 points per game, while Camille Mahlknecht has posted a team-high 7.4 rebounds and 3.1 blocks per contest.
Dating back to 1963-64, Long Beach State leads in its all-time series with Cal State Northridge, 36-14. In the NCAA era (since 1981-82), LBSU is 20-10 against the Matadors.
LAST TIME WE MET
Long Beach State suffered a 77-54 setback to Cal State Northridge at The Matadome in the first meeting of the season series on Jan. 25.
Madison Montgomery paced LBSU with 10 points and four rebounds. Lauren Spargo and Jewelyn Sawyer also finished with nine points each, while Hallie Meneses chipped in eight points and seven assists. Ashlee Guay led CSUN with 21 points and 10 rebounds.
A GLANCE AT UC RIVERSIDE
UC Riverside (6-21, 2-12 Big West) fell to Cal Poly, 83-72, before dropping a narrow 77-75 decision at league-leading Cal State Northridge last week. Brittany Crain is tops in the conference with 18.9 points per game, while she is also averaging a team-best 6.0 rebounds per outing. Simone DeCoud has added 11.7 points and 3.7 assists per contest.
Long Beach State trails in its all-time series with UC Riverside, 16-14, but has won the last two meetings.
LAST TIME WE MET
LBSU used a balanced effort to defeat UC Riverside, 65-52, at the Walter Pyramid on Feb. 8.
Raven Benton led four 49ers in double figures with 19 points, and also tied for the team lead with eight rebounds. Anna Kim finished with 12 points, while Madison Montgomery and Lauren Spargo had 10 points each. Brittany Crain paced the Highlanders with a game-high 20 points.
PROTECTING THE PYRAMID
Over the last two-plus years, LBSU has been tough to beat at home. Since the start of the 2011-12 season, the 49ers have posted a 33-13 (.717) record at the Walter Pyramid. Long Beach State is 11-4 at home this year.
STEALING THE SHOW
Long Beach State is tops in the Big West and ranks 44th in all of NCAA Division I with 9.8 steals per outing. LBSU has recorded 10 or more steals in 14 contests, including a season-high 18 against Harvard. Three 49ers - Jade Wilson (3rd), Hallie Meneses (4th) and Anna Kim (10th) - also rank among the conference's individual top-10 in steals per game.
Freshman Raven Benton has notched a team-leading 19 double-figure scoring games, with four of those coming in the form of 20-point performances. She had back-to-back 20-point outings to close out non-conference play, draining a career-high 26 at USC (Dec. 28) and registering 22 against Denver (Jan. 5). In those two games, Benton shot 61.3 percent from the field and 63.0 percent from 3-point range. The Federal Way, Wash., native also poured in 22 points in a double-overtime victory at San Francisco and finished with 21 points in 21 minutes played vs. Harvard in the first round of the ASU Classic. Benton added 16 points in 13 minutes of action in the championship game at tournament host Arizona State, earning her all-tournament honors and the Big West Women's Basketball Player of the Week award (Dec. 9). For the season, Benton is tops on the squad in scoring (12.7 ppg) and is second in rebounding (5.5 rpg). In addition, she has gotten herself to the free throw line a team-high 167 times where she has made 69.5 percent of her attempts.
MENESES ON POINT
After sitting out all of last year with an ACL injury, junior point guard Hallie Meneses did not miss a beat in her return as the 49ers' floor leader. She has led the team in assists 18 times and ranks third in the Big West with 4.3 assists per outing. Meneses has 12 games with at least five helpers, including a career-high nine in a win at Cal State Fullerton. The San Francisco, Calif., native has also been solid from long distance, hitting over 40 percent of her 3-point attempts in the last 19 games (30-of-73). Meneses was a perfect 3-for-3 from behind the arc at CSF where she finished with a team-high 18 points. She also went 3-for-5 from 3-point range en route to a season-best 19 points vs. Cal Poly. In the second meeting with the Mustangs, Meneses had 19 points and eight assists. On the season, she is averaging 8.3 points per outing and is tops on the squad with 121 assists.
KIM HEATS UP
Freshman Anna Kim has reached double digits in the points column in five of the last seven outings as she had 20 at Hawai'i, 14 at UC Santa Barbara, 13, vs. UC Davis, 12 vs. UC Riverside and 10 at UC Irvine. Since the UCI game on Feb. 6, Kim has gone 16-for-28 (57.1 percent) from 3-point range. The Fullerton, Calif., native also had her best offensive showing of her young career in the 49ers' final non-conference game against Denver where she poured in 22 points on 8-of-10 shooting, including a 4-for-5 effort from behind the arc. Her 22 points, eight field goals and four threes were all career highs, and she was named the Big West Player of the Week for her performance (Jan. 6). Kim ranks first in the league in 3-point field goal percentage (45.2) and is fourth on the team with 8.4 points per outing.
With her 6-foot-8 wingspan, junior Ella Clark (London, England) has been a menace for opposing shooters. Clark has at least one block in 21 games, and has recorded multiple blocks in six contests. On the season, she is tied for the team lead with 33 blocked shots. In addition, Clark has registered 8.1 points per outing and has stepped up her offensive production over the last five games where she has averaged 12.6 points on 49 percent shooting. Clark led the 49ers to a huge road win at defending Big West champion Cal Poly, going 9-for-11 from the field for a career-high 23 points. She then sparked a late rally in a 65-62 comeback win over UC Davis, draining the go-ahead three with 58 seconds left. Clark finished with 14 points and seven rebounds against the Aggies. Earlier in the year, she registered a then career-best 19 points vs. Omaha, and followed that up with a 17-point performance against Harvard, where she made a career-high five treys.
SPARGO FOR THREE
Junior Lauren Spargo (Valencia, Calif.) enters the week ranked second on the squad with 10.6 ppg, and is tied for first with 35 threes made. She has 11 outings with more than one trey, including a 4-for-7 performance from behind the arc at San Francisco, where she finished with 16 points. Spargo, who missed four games and nearly a month of practice due to an illness in December, has reached double figures in nine of the last 12 games in which she has played. During that stretch, she poured in a career-high 20 points vs. Cal Poly on Jan. 18. Spargo added seven rebounds, three steals and a career-best five assists against the Mustangs.
Long Beach State will host the first round and quarterfinals of the Big West Tournament at the Walter Pyramid, March 11-12. The semifinals and finals will be held at the Honda Center in Anaheim, March 14-15.
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