Lister sisters grow separately but not apart

March 6, 2014 - 6:50am
Jasmine Lister (No. 11) has made her mark as a high-scoring point guard at Vanderbilt, where she will lead the No. 8 Commodores into second-round action against No. 9 Georgia on Thursday at noon EST at the Gwinnett Center in Duluth, GA. (Photo courtesy Vanderbilt University)

Jasmine Lister (No. 11) has made her mark as a high-scoring point guard at Vanderbilt, where she will lead the No. 8 Commodores into second-round action against No. 9 Georgia on Thursday at noon EST at the Gwinnett Center in Duluth, GA. (Photo courtesy Vanderbilt University)

Though they’re more than 2,000 miles away from each other, their statistics still match up this season.

Vanderbilt senior guard Jasmine Lister has averaged 14.2 points per game, making her the 14th-leading scorer in the Southeastern Conference and the second-highest point-getter for her team. Twin sister, junior guard Cinnamon Lister, averaged 15.5 points per game for Cal State Northridge and is the eighth-leading scorer in the Big West Conference and the second-highest offensive threat for her squad.

Jasmine will help lead the Commodores in the SEC Tournament this week, and Cinnamon will front CSUN’s efforts at the Big West Tournament next week. It’s business as usual for the speedy stars from Corona, Calif.

“I can’t believe it’s my senior year,” Jasmine said.

The Listers took up basketball at seven years old, and played side by side at school and on club teams throughout their school years. The high-scoring duo helped their Santiago High School team get to a state section championship in 2010, and then different colleges came calling for them.

“Vanderbilt only needed one five-foot-four point guard,” explained Cinnamon, who is younger by six minutes.

She went to Boise State; Jasmine accepted the offer from Vanderbilt. But while Jasmine thrived, Cinnamon soon realized that her school choice wasn’t a good fit for her. She transferred to CSUN after her sophomore year, and sat out the 2012-2013 year due to NCAA eligibility stipulations. Now she is back to her high-scoring self.

“I put in a lot of hard work during my redshirt year. I got in the gym every day,” Cinnamon said. “I learned a lot sitting on the bench and watching the games. I learned tempo from watching the coaches.”

Cinnamon and CSUN top scorer Ashlee Guay have made a great tandem for the Matadors this season, leading them to the 1-seed in the Big West Conference. Jasmine has paired up with the Commodores' top point-getter Christina Foggie to lift Vanderbilt into the Top 25 for a portion of this season. Jasmine was also an ESPN National Player of the Week.

The Listers, who are 21, look alike, speak the same, and have eerily similar playing styles.

“I watched Vanderbilt a few times this year, and it always looked like it was Cinnamon out there playing,” CSUN coach Jason Flowers said of Jasmine.

Cinnamon Lister - CSUN A continent away, Jasmine Lister's twin sister Cinnamon has helped carry the Cal State Northridge Matadors to the top of the Big West Conference standings. No. 1-seeded CSUN will head into the Big West Conference Tournament at noon, March 14, at the Long Beach State Pyramid against the No. 8 seed, still to be decided.

The twins spent their early childhood in Northern California, where they were on the dance squad for the now-defunct Sacramento Monarchs. The WNBA players inspired the Listers.

"Ticha Penechiero was the one I looked up to, and for Cinnamon, it was Kara Lawson,” Jasmine said.

The sisters moved to Southern California at age 11, and kept playing basketball – first at the park, and as they got older, for school and club teams. They had planned to attend the same college and play on the same team, but found that schools didn’t need both of them. So they went their separate ways for the first time in their lives. As they are very close, it was a big adjustment.

“At first it was weird not having her by my side, because she’s my best friend,” Jasmine said.

The two texted and Skyped every day, a practice they still continue. They watch each others' games via the Internet. But though they’ve maintained their closeness, something else happened as a result of their separation: They became their own people and expanded their social connections.

“It was weird at first, but then it was like, it was cool to branch out and make our own friends,” Cinnamon said.

Their mother Happi Lister approved.

“It was best that they split up,” she said. “They were able to grow up.”

Which isn’t to say that they don’t go right back into twin mode when they’re both home.

“When we do see each other, it’s like we never missed a beat,” Jasmine said.

Both say they’ve learned a lot in college, albeit different things. Cinnamon said her shot has improved most, while Jasmine feels her confidence in her diverse role is her new strength.

The Listers are proud of one another. Jasmine is especially pleased that Cinnamon found the right school for herself, a sentiment reflected by what Flowers thinks of his high-scoring guard.

"We were very excited when we were able to add Cinnamon to our roster because of the type of player she is, but she has exceeded all expectations because of the type of young woman she is," Flowers said.

"She is one of the most driven players I've ever coached and her character makes her a natural leader. She is a special young woman who, with her teammates, is determined to make this a special program."

Jasmine’s major is women and gender studies, and Cinnamon’s is communications. But before they embark on professional careers, both hope to play overseas after graduation.

For now, however, their focus is on their conference tournaments. Because the events are held on successive weekends,  the Listers will get to watch each other play, and their parents may make the trip to both to see each daughter.

Eighth-seeded Vanderbilt tips off its SEC Tournament play at noon EST against No. 9 Georgia. CSUN takes the court at the Big West Tournament at noon, March 14, against the eighth seed, still to be decided.