By Jeremy Gonzalez, Assistant Sports Editor
The CSUDH women’s basketball team has made a return to the postseason this year and tomorrow (March 5) will face Cal State San Marcos in the opening round of the California Collegiate Athletic Association.
The Toros qualified for the playoffs last season, entering as the seventh seed and traveled to play Cal Poly Pomona on the road, but were defeated in the opening round by a score of 67-80.
This year the Toros will enter as the fifth best team in the conference, with the team finishing the regular season at 14-14 overall, and 10-12 in conference play. The Cougars enter as the fourth best team in the conference, finishing with an overall record of 17-9 and a conference record of 14-8.
The Toros and Cougars faced each other twice in the regular season. They split the season series, with the home team winning each game. The Toros won by six points at home, and lost by eight on the road.
Cal State San Marcos enters the opening round scorching hot as they finished the regular season on a 6-game winning streak. Cougars sophomore forward Emma Forel led the team in scoring through the regular season while forward Jon’nae Vermillion led the team in rebounds all season. Both players average double figure points per game with field goal percentages over 40 percent.
In the first matchup of the season, the Toros emerged victorious in the Torodome, with senior Nautica Morrow scoring a game-high 29 points and five steals. Junior center Ahlisha Henderson had a double-double that game, with 14 points and a team-high 15 rebounds. Junior forward Destinee Williams also had a double-double, with 18 points and 10 rebounds.
In the road defeat against the Cougars, Morrow led all players in scoring again with 25 points along with three steals. Henderson led the Toros in rebounds with eight. Senior guard Zhane Carter also contributed significantly with 14 points and three rebounds.
Morrow and Henderson have become crucial players for the Toros this season as both players rank among the conference leaders in scoring. Morrow leads the conference in steals, finishing with 81 on the season and averages 3.1 steals per game.
Henderson finished with 36 blocked shots and averaged about 1.3 per game, finishing in the top five of the conference. She also accumulated 261 rebounds, averaging 9.3 per game, good for seventh best in the conference.
The Toros have the third best scoring offense in the conference, ending the season with 1943 points while averaging 69.4 points per game. The Cougars have the fourth best scoring offense, ending with 1841 points while averaging 68.2 point per game.
Tip-off for the Toros and Cougars is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday. The winner of Tuesday’s matchup will face the winner of the other postseason game between No. 1 UC San Diego and No. 8 San Francisco State.