The reigning Big West Player of the Year scored 39 points for Cal State Northridge, and the Matadors slammed the door shut on Hawaii's title hopes with a 71-64 win in round two of the conference tournament.
Sophomore Channon Fluker, who was also the conference's Freshman of the Year last season, was sensational for the Matadors on Wednesday night, adding 12 rebounds and dominating the paint against a Rainbow Wahine team unable to adjust to her low-post presence.
"There's no wonder why she's player of the year, she's a handful." said Hawaii head coach Laura Beeman after the game. "You don't want to give somebody 40 points, but I know the other day Russell Westbrook had 58 and they lost. If she has 40 and we do our job on the boards and we don't allow the second chance opportunities and the fouls that occurred, it's a different ballgame."
CSUN outrebounded UH 52-33 and 20-8 on the offensive glass which fueled the Matadors second half run.
"It takes five people to do it every possession and I think that was some of the breakdown," said sophomore guard Olivia Crawford. ""Doing it over and over again and seeing the ball go in the basket for her was a little deflating, but the fact we kept sticking with it was really good."
Senior guard Briana Harris led Hawaii with 11 points. Junior forward Sarah Toeaina added 10 first half points, but was held scoreless in the second half for the 'Bows, who see their season come to a disappointing end a year after winning the conference tournament.
"Incredibly proud of what this young team has done and the adversity that we've seen this year," said Beeman. "I actually think we're playing our best basketball and I would have liked to have seen us play a couple more times to see if that is true, but we just met a better opponent tonight."
For the 'Bows, who list just one senior on their roster and return most of their team next season, attention immediately turns toward the future.
"Looking in the long haul, it's exciting, to see our freshmen step up and take on the challenge," said junior forward Sarah Toeaina. "It gives us more hope and something to look forward to in the offseason."
"There's a lot of youth on this team, next year, we'll still be youthful," added Crawford.
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