With her pink headband on and sweat dripping down her face, freshman guard Shanaijah Davidson stepped up to the free-throw line, calmly sinking two free-throws to quiet the hostile CSUN crowd with 15 seconds left. Hitting those free throws would give her 29 points on the night, tying her career-high.
More importantly, those two free throws gave Long Beach State women’s basketball team a 59-51 win over CSUN, it’s first of Big West Conference play.
Long Beach (3-20, 1-8 Big West) buckled down on defense, forcing Northridge (13-11, 6-4 Big West) to shoot 31 percent from the field.
“It feels great,” head coach Jeff Cammon said via LBSU’s women’s basketball Twitter account. “They deserve it; I just want it for them”
The first half was sloppy. The Matadors seemed content shooting 3-pointers in the first quarter, regardless of coverage. As such, Northridge shot 1-for-10 from 3-point land for a 10 percent completion rate.
In the second, Northridge tried to get its leading scorer, junior center Channon Fluker, going. The 49ers played good team defense, forcing her to distribute the ball instead of scoring, holding her to six points on 3-of-9 shooting. The center still managed three assists to players cutting to the basket while being double teamed.
After a poor shooting first half Northridge led 25-22. Freshman guard Meghann Henderson had nine points and three steals for the Matadors, while Long Beach’s Davidson led the way with nine second-quarter points and four steals of her own.
The 49ers came out with a renewed defensive focus in the second half, as, Davidson began to find her groove on both sides of the ball. By the end of the third quarter, she had five steals to go along with 17 points.
“She did a much better job of playing in the flow of the game,” Cammon said of Davidson via Twitter. “She’s going to get better[…]She can do so much, she hasn’t even scratched the surface, the type of player she can be.”
Though Northridge would cut the lead to six with 15 seconds left, Davidson’s free throws for her 28th and 29th points sealed the game for Long Beach. The 49ers forced 20 turnovers and held Fluker to 10 points on 4-for-14 shooting in the win.
Long Beach beat CSUN for its first win in Big West play. Davidson led all scorers with 29 points along with six steals and four assists. The Matadors senior forward Tessa Boagni had 19 points and six rebounds.
The 49ers continue their three-game road trip at 2 p.m. Saturday against Cal Poly.