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Matadors women’s basketball blows lead versus Bakersfield to lose their 22nd straight game

CSUN (2-22, 0-14, Big West) opened the game with a 6-0 lead against the Cal State Bakersfield Roadrunners (8-15, 5-9 Big West) on Thursday night and then went scoreless in...

CSUN (2-22, 0-14, Big West) opened the game with a 6-0 lead against the Cal State Bakersfield Roadrunners (8-15, 5-9 Big West) on Thursday night and then went scoreless in the last two minutes of the third quarter, forcing Bakersfield to go on a 12-0 run and knock down a triple at the start of the fourth quarter to take a 42-39 lead for the first time in the game.

From the opening tap, the Matadors were playing very comfortably, moving the ball around and getting easy shots up, including two straight baskets by guard Erica Adams and forward Kayanna Spriggs to give the Matadors an early 6-0 lead. Despite the lead, the Roadrunners would fight during the entire game, and it never felt like CSUN was in control of the game, as Roadrunner guard Shaunae Brown would knock down a triple and jumper to cut the deficit to one. But with seven seconds left, guard Laney Amundsen would hit a 3-pointer to end the quarter leading 14-10.

“I need to make sure that I fill the tone of the game and the players,” said head coach Carlene Mitchell. “We have a short bench; I called timeouts when they [Bakersfield] were making their run, but when we start losing the lead, that’s just a reflection that I don’t have them ready to make the plays they need to.”

The second quarter saw Amundsen continue her momentum. CSUN extended their lead to nine points behind Amundsen, who scored the first two baskets to open up the second quarter, knocking down her second 3-pointer and a jumper to lead 19-10. But, even with CSUN leading through three quarters, the Roadrunners still refused to back down, answering each Matadors’ basket with one of their own, keeping the score close.

CSUN ended the first half leading 27-24, with Amdunsen leading the way with nine points and two 3-pointers, the only points she scored in the entire game, going scoreless in the second half. The Matadors still managed to hold the lead, with guard Harvey Rachel knocking down two free throws at the line, giving CSUN a slim three-point lead heading into halftime.

The Big Red opened the third quarter with Spriggs knocking down a jumper and guard Kaitlyn Elsholz stealing the ball and making a layup down in transition to extend the lead 31-24. CSUN would stretch its lead back to nine after guard Talo Li-Uperesa hit a 3-pointer to give CSUN a 34-25 lead. But in the last two minutes of the third quarter, CSUN would go cold, missing four consecutive shots and giving up a 9-0 run as the Roadrunners spirited a comeback to draw the game 39-39.

Once Bakersfield tied the game, they never looked back, knocking down a 3-pointer on their first possession in the fourth quarter to take the lead for the first time. The Matadors would never lead again as Roadrunner guard Julia Riley hit three straight triples to extend the lead to 51-43, finishing with 21 points and shooting 7-7 from 3-point land.

CSUN had several opportunities to take the lead or extend its lead with two minutes left in the third quarter but were just missing shots and, on the other end, couldn’t defend the Roadrunners’ offense.

Despite the 15 points and 16 rebounds from Spriggs, CSUN couldn’t maintain their lead, ultimately watching the Roadrunners outscore them 23-11 after the game was tied 39-39 and seal the victory 61-50.

“We were playing man-to-man most of the time,” said Carlene Mitchell. “The adjustments we made were to trap them and double-team them to force the ball out of their hands, but the one-on-one defense allowed them to get downhill and find someone from 3-point land.”

CSUN will travel on the road to take on Long Beach State University (9-14, 4-9 Big West) on Saturday, Feb. 17, at 3 p.m. on ESPN+.

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