Matadors Face 49ers in Conference Showdown
NORTHRIDGE, Calif. --- The Cal State Northridge women's basketball team (7-7, 2-0 Big West) hit the road for the first of three league games away from The Matadome when it faces Long Beach State at The Walter Pyramid on Jan. 7 at 4 p.m. Live stats, live video and live audio from the Matadors' tilt with the 49ers will be available on GoMatadors.com. Updates for the game will also be available on the GoMatadors' Twitter account.
Last week, the Matadors jumped out to a quick 2-0 start in league action by defeating UC Irvine and UC Riverside at home. Against the Anteaters, the Matadors forced 33 turnovers and freshman Janae Sharpe scored a season-high 19 points, including eight of the Matadors' final 14 in the contest. Sharpe also had a season-high seven steals against the Anteaters.
Two days later, another freshman, Jessica Duarte, scored a season-high 19 points and grabbed a season-high eight rebounds as Northridge snapped a nine-game losing streak to UC Riverside. Sharpe finished with 15 points and seven rebounds and yet a third rookie, Ashlee Guay, added 10 points and three steals in the win.
This week, the single contest with the 49ers awaits the Matadors. Long Beach State is also off to a 2-0 start in league play, having also defeated UC Irvine and UC Riverside at home during the opening week of Big West Conference action.
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.). After the trip to Northern California, the Matadors settle back into the comforts of home with a pair of games against the league schools from the central coast: Cal Poly (Jan. 19, 7 p.m.) and against UC Santa Barbara (Jan. 21, 4 p.m.).
Mighty Sharpe -- Big West Player of the Week
Freshman Janae Sharpe had a strong start to her Big West career, averaging 17 points and earning the league's Player of the Week after helping lead the Matadors to a pair of wins. Against UC Irvine, she scored a season-high 19 points and had a season-high seven steals. Two days later, Sharpe added 15 points, seven rebounds and three assists as the Matadors defeated UC Riverside. For the season, Sharpe is averaging 10.8 points per game, the second-best figure on the team and 11th among all Big West players. She is also averaging 3.7 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 2.4 steals (fourth in the league) per game and has scored in double-figures in eight of the Matadors' 14 games.
Do or Duarte
Freshman Jessica Duarte scored a season-high 19 points and grabbed a season-high eight rebounds in the Matadors' victory over UC Riverside on Dec. 31. The rookie scored from all parts of the floor and also connected on a season-high seven free throws in the contest. Since making her debut against Colgate, Duarte is averaging 8.4 points and has hit nine 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 also reached 11 points twice this year, against the Waves and in CSUN's win over San Jose State.
CSUN's Dr. J
Senior Jasmine Erving enters Saturday's game averaging 14.8 points and 8.4 rebounds per game, figures that rank third and second, respectively, among all Big West Conference players. The Santa Ana, Calif., native 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 (1.4). 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 9.1 points, 3.7 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 3.4 steals for the year. Guay leads the league with 56 assists on the season and also ranks second in the Big West with an average of 34.4 minutes per game. Guay finished with 10 points, her sixth double-figure scoring game of the season, three rebounds and three steals in the Matadors' victory over UC Riverside. Guay has had one game with seven steals, one with six and three more with at least four and ranks 18th among all Division I players with her steals per game average.
Roses are Blue, Violets are Matador Red
Junior Violet Alama continues to bring a strong presence off the bench for the Matadors. Against UC Irvine, she finished with six points, four rebounds and four steals. Two days later, she had nine points and a game-high 11 rebounds as the Matadors defeated UC Riverside. Alama also 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. 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 14 games, Alama is averaging 8.4 points and 6.2 rebounds, the 10th-best average in the Big West.
Mahl-Knechting the Dots
Freshman Camille Mahlknecht recorded a season-high five blocked shots in the Matadors' victory over UC Irvine. She also brought 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 5.0 points and 4.2 rebounds per game. She now has 20 blocks on the year, a 1.4 per game average that ranks tied for first 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.
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 14 games of the year, the Matadors find themselves with some pretty impressive stats thus far. Defensively, the Matadors lead the league in field goal percentage defense (.372, 317-853) and 3-point field goal percentage defense (.277, 65-235). Northridge also ranks second in the league and 66th in the nation with an average of 11.1 steals per game. Finally, the Matadors lead the conference and rank 51st in the nation with an average of 4.6 blocks per game. On offense, CSUN ranks second in the Big West with a team free throw percentage of .734 (221-301). As a team, CSUN is averaging 41.9 rebounds per game, the second-best average in the conference. Individually, freshman Ashlee Guay ranks second in the league and 18th among all Division I players with an average of 3.4 steals per game. Finally, Jasmine Erving ranks second in the conference with a rebounding average of 8.8 per game, an average that checks in at 98th among all Division-I players.
Already a Season of Firsts
Northridge has already accomplished several notable feats through the first 14 games of the 2011-12 season. The Matadors' 2-0 start to Big West play is their best since the 2004-05 season and the Matadors' home victories over UC Irvine and UC RIverside were their first since the 2006-07 season. CSUN's 30-point victory over San Jose State was the program's largest victory in over 11 years. 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 Long Beach State
Long Beach State enters Saturday's contest at 7-8 overall and 2-0 in the Big West. The 49ers defeated both UC Riverside and UC Irvine at home during the opening week of Big West play. Tipesa Moorer leads LBSU in scoring at 12.3 points while also averaging 4.8 rebounds per game. Alex Sanchez is the second 49er averaging in double-figures, scoring 10.3 ppg. Sanchez is also the team's top rebounder, having pulled down 83 boards for an average of 5.5 per game. As a team, Long Beach State is shooting .366 from the field and .256 from 3-point range. The 49ers average 38.8 rebounds, 13.4 assists and 21.2 turnovers per game. Long Beach State has won the past five meetings with CSUN, having swept the Matadors the past two seasons. Northridge's last win at The Walter Pyramid came during the 2006-07 season, a 73-63 victory. Jody Wynn is in her third season as the head coach of the 49ers.