CSUN Opens Big West Play at Home with UC Irvine, UC Riverside
Matadors Host Anteaters, Highlanders
NORTHRIDGE, Calif. --- The Cal State Northridge women's basketball team (5-7) embarks upon the 2011-12 Big West Conference season with a pair of home dates before the start of the 2012 calendar year. On Thursday, Dec. 29, the Matadors host UC Irvine at 4 p.m. Then, on New Year's Eve, the Matadors welcome in UC Riverside at 4 p.m. to usher in the new year. Both contests will feature live stats, a live internet-only radio broadcast and a live stream of the game with all the links available at GoMatadors.com.
Last week, CSUN suffered a pair of tough road losses in the state of Oregon. On Dec. 19, Northridge narrowly fell to Oregon despite 29 points and 13 field goals from senior center Jasmine Erving. The Matadors cut the lead to one with under five seconds left, but the Ducks hit their free throws to secure the victory.
Two days later, the Matadors fell at Portland despite holding a double-digit halftime lead. CSUN controlled the early part of the game and led by 12 early in the second half, but hesitancy allowed the Pilots to creep back in the game and eventually steal the win on a banked 3-pointer with a minute left.
This week, CSUN faces a pair of teams who also have aspirations of advancing to the Big West Tournament in March. The Matadors have not defeated UCI or UCR at home since the 2006-07 season and will need a complete effort to best the Anteaters and Highlanders.
Next week, the Matadors play just once but it will be a pivotal contest none the less. On Jan. 7, CSUN heads down the 405 to face Long Beach State at The Walter Pyramid at 7 p.m. Following the 49ers, the Matadors remain on the road for contests at UC Davis (1/12, 7 p.m.) and Pacific (1/14, 4 p.m.).
CSUN's Dr. J
Senior Jasmine Erving scored a season-high 29 points on 13 field goals in the Matadors loss at Oregon. She enters the start of the Big West season averaging 16.2 points and 8.8 rebounds per game, figures that rank third and second, respectively, among all Big West Conference players. The Santa Ana, Calif., now has 62 double-digit scoring performances and 20 double-figure rebounding games for her career. She picked up her fifth double-double of the season and 18th of her career after finishing with 27 points and 10 rebounds in the Matadors' loss at Pepperdine. She also leads all league players in blocks per game (1.6) and her five double-doubles rank among the top totals in Division I. During the Thanksgiving Holiday, she earned her third career Big West Player of the Week award by posting a pair of double-doubles as CSUN won its Thanksgiving tournament. Against Colgate, Erving led Northridge with 18 points and 11 rebounds and then had 10 points and 13 rebounds in the championship game against West Virginia.
A Guay with Words
Freshman Ashlee Guay has been a menace for opponents in her first season with the Matadors. The San Diego, Calif., native is averaging 9.3 points, 4.1 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 3.7 steals for the year. Guay leads the league with 54 assists on the season and also leads the Big West with an average of 34.6 minutes per game. At Oregon, Guay finished with 11 points and seven assists, and then followed that up with eight points, three rebounds and four steals at Portland. Guay has reached double-figures in scoring in five games and has had one game with seven steals, one with six and three more with at least four. Guay posted a season-high eight assists at Oregon State and in the season-opening victory over San Francisco, she scored a team-high 17 points and had eight rebounds and five steals.
Roses are Blue, Violets are Matador Red
Junior Violet Alama had a nice performance at Portland, finishing with 11 points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals against the Pilots in 19 minutes of action off the bench. Alama continues to be an important reserve player for CSUN. She has scored in double-figures in three of the last four games, including 14 points and eight rebounds against San Jose State and 12 points and three assists against Fresno State. She recorded her sixth career double-double in the Matadors' victory at San Francisco, finishing with 15 points and 10 rebounds in the victory. Then in CSUN's win at LMU, she added 14 points, including two 3-pointers, and eight rebounds. Through 12 games, Alama is averaging 8.5 points and 6.0 rebounds.
Freshman Janae Sharpe finished with 10 points and five rebounds at Portland, her sixth double-figure scoring game of the season. Two days earlier, she had eight points, six assists and four steals at Oregon. For the year, Sharpe is averaging 9.6 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.9 steals per game. She also leads the Matadors with 43 free throw attempts. The Rialto, Calif., native had a big part in the Matadors' two victories on opening weekend. In the season opener at San Francisco, she came off the bench to score 14 points and add four rebounds. Three days later, Sharpe had 11 points, eight assists and five steals as the Matadors won at LMU for the first time since 1990.
Mahl-Knechting the Dots
Freshman Camille Mahlknecht pulled down a season-high 13 rebounds in the Matadors' win over San Jose State and added 12 points against Fresno State. For the season, the Agoura, Calif., native is averaging 5.6 points and 4.4 rebounds per game. She leads the team with a .443 field goal percentage (27-of-61) and has 15 blocks on the year, a 1.3 per game average that ranks fourth in the Big West Conference. Offensively, Mahlknecht has two double-figure scoring performances on the season, including a season-high 14 points and seven field goals at Oregon State.
Petersen Provides Productive Performances
Sophomore Kaitlyn Petersen scored 13 points and had four 3-pointers in the Matadors' win over San Jose State. She was named to the all-tournament team at CSUN's Thanksgiving tournament after turning in two impressive performances. Against Colgate, she had 13 points and three assists in 19 minutes of action. The next day, Petersen scored CSUN's first 13 points en route to a season-high 17 as Northridge knocked off West Virginia for the tournament title. Against the Mountaineers, she was a perfect 10-for-10 from the free throw line and now ranks fourth in the conference with a season percentage of .805 (33-of-41). For the year, Petersen is averaging 8.8 points, third on the team, to go along with 2.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists per contest.
Do or Duarte
Freshman Jessica Duarte brings a potent offensive punch to the Matadors' line-up. Since making her debut against Colgate, Duarte is averaging 7.5 points and has hit eight 3-pointers. She had seven big points, including her first career trey, in the Matadors' victory over West Virginia. More recently, she knocked down two 3-pointers against both Santa Clara and Pepperdine. She has reached a season-high 11 points twice this year, against the Waves and in CSUN's win over San Jose State.
The Matadors won the Woodland Hills Holiday Inn Thanksgiving Basketball Classic 2011 by defeating West Virginia, 48-47, in the championship game. CSUN defeated Colgate, 71-60, on Friday, Nov. 25 to set up a meeting with the Mountaineers, who knocked off No. 25 UCLA. For their efforts, senior Jasmine Erving was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player and Kaitlyn Petersen was also named to the all-tournament team.
Conference and National Notes
Through the first 12 games of the year, the Matadors find themselves with some pretty impressive stats thus far. CSUN leads the Big West with a rebounding margin of +2.2. The team also leads the Big West with a team free throw percentage of .749 (188-251). As a team, CSUN is averaging 42.8 rebounds per game, the best average in the conference. Individually, freshman Ashlee Guay leads the league with an average of 3.7 steals per game. Finally, Jasmine Erving ranks second in the conference with a rebounding average of 8.8 per game and third in scoring at 16.2 ppg.
Already a Season of Firsts
Northridge has already accomplished several notable feats through the first 10 games of the 2011-12 season. Most recently, CSUN's 30-point victory over San Jose State was the program's largest victory in over 11 years and the Matadors are off to their best start through 10 games (5-5) since the 2004-05 season. Northridge defeated West Virginia in the championship game of the Thanksgiving Basketball Classic, the program's first win ever over a BIG EAST program. With four wins in November, the Matadors won their most games in the season's opening month since the 1998-99 season. The Matadors' win over Colgate in the Thanksgiving Basketball Classic was also the first time CSUN has won its home opener since the 2004-05 season. The Matadors' victory over San Francisco on Nov. 11 was the program's first ever against the Dons and head coach Jason Flowers' first career non-conference win. The win also marked the first time Northridge won a season opener since the 2004-05 season. CSUN's win against LMU was the program's first since 1997 and the first win at LMU since the 1990 season.
Scouting UC Irvine
UC Irvine enters Thursday's Big West opener with a 4-8 overall record. In their last action, the Anteaters dropped a pair of road games, falling at Northern Colorado (71-56) and at Wyoming (51-42). Jazmyne White and Kassandra Mccallister are both averaging an even 11.0 points per game on the season. White also leads the team in rebounding (6.0 rpg) and is shooting 54.7 percent (58-of-106) from the field. McCalister leads the team with 50 assists and has also hit 11 3-pointers on the season. As a team, UCI is shooting 41.5 percent (306-738) from the field and averages 37.1 rebounds per game. Through 12 contests, both UC Irvine and its opponents are averaging roughly 19 turnovers per game. Molly Goodenbour is in her fourth season as the head coach of the Anteaters. UC Irvine leads the overall series between the two schools 20-18, though CSUN won the final meeting last season. CSUN has not defeated UCI in The Matadome since the 2006-07 season.
Scouting UC Riverside
UC Riverside enters the week with a 2-9 overall record and will play at Long Beach State on Dec. 29 before traveling to The Matadome on New Year's Eve. The Highlanders are 1-2 over their last three games, having defeated Idaho before falling to Gonzaga and Fresno State. Natasha Hadley leads UCR in scoring at 13.2 points per game and is shooting 46 percent (63-137) from the field for the season. Tre'Shonti Nottingham is averaging 13.1 points per game and leads the Highlanders with 43 assists and 18 3-pointers. As a team, UC Riverside is shooting 38.4 percent from the field (233-606) and 35.3 percent (41-116) from 3-point range. The Highlanders average 34.2 rebounds per game and roughly 19 turnovers per contest. UCR has won the last seven meetings between the two schools and CSUN's last win the series came at home on Jan. 6, 2007 (69-60). John Margaritis is in his eighth season as the head coach of UC Riverside. SUN head coach Jason Flowers and assistant coach Lindsey Foster both worked for Margaritis at UCR before coming to Cal State Northridge.