Matadors Face Tests in Mustangs, Gauchos
NORTHRIDGE, Calif. --- The Cal State Northridge women's basketball team (9-8, 4-1 Big West) squares off against its Big West rivals from the California central coast in a pair of league games at The Matadome. On Thursday, Jan. 19, the Matadors welcome in the Cal Poly Mustangs for a 7 p.m. contest. Two days later, CSUN hosts UC Santa Barbara for a Saturday matinee at 4 p.m. Both contests will feature live stats, video and audio hosted on GoMatadors.com.
Last week, the Matadors split their time in Northern California. Against UC Davis, the Matadors rallied from a 16-point deficit early in the second half to nearly pull off the victory before falling by two points. Junior Violet Alama led Northridge with 19 points and 10 rebounds, her second double-double of the season. Jasmine Erving also had a double-double in the contest.
Two days later, CSUN faced Pacific and defeated the Tigers in an epic comeback. Trailing by 13 at halftime, the Matadors outscored the Tigers 52-35 in the second half to improve to their best start in league play through five games in the school's Big West history. Ashlee Guay scored 16 points, including 10 free throws, Jianni Jackson came off the bench to score 14 points and collect seven rebounds and Haley White added 12 points and seven rebounds in the win.
This week, Northridge faces a pair of squads that are looking to improve their place in the league standings. Cal Poly has only lost once thus far through four Big West games and were the preseason favorite. UC Santa Barbara has won the last nine games in the series and boasts one of the top scoring defenses in the nation.
Northridge plays Jan. 25 at Cal State Fullerton and closes out the first month of the calendar year with a Jan. 28 home contest against CSU Bakersfield.
CSUN's Dr. J
Senior Jasmine Erving had 10 points and 10 rebounds in the game at UC Davis, her seventh double-double of the season and 20th of her career. She added 14 points and 10 rebounds in the Matadors' win at Long Beach State. The Santa Ana, Calif., native enters Saturday's game averaging 13.7 points and 8.1 rebounds per game, figures that rank fourth among all Big West Conference players. She also leads all league players in blocks per game (1.6) and has a total of 25 on the season. 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.
Roses are Blue, Violets are Matador Red
Junior Violet Alama continues to bring a strong presence off the bench for the Matadors. At UC Davis, Alama posted a season-high 19 points and 10 rebounds for her second double-double of the season. She also had a career-high five steals against the Aggies in 30 minutes. In the Matadors' win at Long Beach State, Alama posted a game-high 11 rebounds to go with six points in 20 minutes. She had nine points and a game-high 11 rebounds as the Matadors defeated UC Riverside. At Portland, she finished with 11 points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals in 19 minutes. Through 17 games, Alama is averaging 8.8 points and 6.7 rebounds, the 10th-best average in the Big West. 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.
Freshman Janae Sharpe has had a strong start to her Big West career, averaging 12.2 points and earning the league's Player of the Week after helping lead the Matadors to a pair of wins during the opening weekend of Big West play. 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 10.5 points per game, the second-best figure on the team and 12th among all Big West players. She is also averaging 3.9 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.1 steals (third in the league) per game and has scored in double-figures in eight of the Matadors' 17 games.
A Guay with Words
Freshman Ashlee Guay has been a menace for opponents in her first season with the Matadors. In CSUN's comeback win at Pacific, Guay finished with a team-high 16 points and knocked down a season-high 10 free throws. The San Diego, Calif., native is averaging 8.9 points, 3.6 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 3.6 steals for the year. Guay leads the league with 62 assists and 61 steals on the season and also ranks second in the Big West with an average of 33.2 minutes per game. Guay has now had two games with seven steals, one with six and four more with at least four and ranks ninth among all Division I players with her steals per game average.
Sophomore Haley White had her most productive game of the season in the Matadors' win at Pacific. She finished with a season-high 12 points, six field goals and seven rebounds in 31 minutes. White also added a career-high three blocked shots against the Tigers. For the season, White is averaging 2.9 points, 1.9 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game. Last year, she was one of just two Big West players to finish with over 100 assists, finishing with 105 dimes for an average of 3.5 apg.
Mahl-Knechting the Dots
Freshman Camille Mahlknecht scored 11 points and collected five rebounds with two blocked shots off the bench for CSUN in the win at Long Beach State. Mahlknecht had 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 3.9 rebounds per game. She now has 23 blocks on the year, a 1.4 per game average that ranks tied for first in the Big West Conference. Offensively, Mahlknecht has three double-figure scoring performances on the season, including a season-high 14 points and seven field goals at Oregon State.
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 7.5 points and has hit 13 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.
I'm Sorry Ms. Jackson
Junior Jianni Jackson had easily her best game in a Northridge uniform in the Matadors' comeback win over Pacific. In 19 minutes off the bench, Jackson finished with a career-high 14 points, four field goals, five free throws and seven rebounds as CSUN erased a 13-point halftime deficit. For the season, Jackson is averaging 2.4 points and 2.1 rebounds.
Conference and National Notes
Through the first 17 games of the year, the Matadors find themselves with some pretty impressive stats thus far. Defensively, the Matadors lead the conference in field goal percentage defense (.368, 379-1,031) and in 3-point field goal percentage defense (.275, 83-302). Those percentages ranks 90th and 58th, respectively, among 336 Division I teams. Northridge also ranks second in the league and 41st in the nation with an average of 11.2 steals per game. Finally, the Matadors lead the conference and rank 58th in the nation with an average of 4.6 blocks per game. On offense, CSUN ranks third in the Big West and 59th in the nation with a team free throw percentage of .727 (274-377). Individually, freshman Ashlee Guay leads the league and ranks ninth among all Division I players with an average of 3.6 steals per game.
Already a Season of Firsts
Northridge has already accomplished several notable feats through the first 17 games of the 2011-12 season. The Matadors' 4-1 start to Big West play is the program's best start in its Big West history and the best start to league play overall since the 1998-99 season. The Matadors' home victories over UC Irvine and UC Riverside and the road win at Long Beach State 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.
Scouting Cal Poly
Cal Poly, the preseason favorite in the Big West Conference, enters Thursday's contest at 6-10 overall and 3-1 in Big West play. The Mustangs feature one of the league's top players in senior Kristina Santiago, who averages 23.8 points and 10.4 rebounds per game, the top averages in those respective categories among all conference players. She also leads the league with a 56.1 field goal percentage and also adds 17 blocks and 26 steals. Ashlee Burns and Kayla Griffin each average over nine points a game and Griffin collects over seven rebounds per game. As a team, Cal Poly is shooting 41.8 percent from the field and 32.8 percent from 3-point range. The Mustangs average 14.9 turnovers, 39.8 points and 8.1 steals per game. Faith Mimnaugh is in her 15th season as the head coach of Cal Poly.
Scouting UC Santa Barbara
UC Santa Barbara pays its annual visit to The Matadome on Saturday, Jan. 21 for a 4 p.m. contest. The Gauchos enter the week with a 7-8 overall record and a 2-2 mark in league play. Before coming to Northridge, UCSB will play at Long Beach State on Thursday, Jan. 19. Sweets Underwood leads the team in scoring at 9.1 points per game and also averages over seven rebounds per game. As a team, UCSB is holding opponents to under 50 points per game and a 37 percent shooting rate from the field. The Gauchos also average 13.7 turnovers, 35.1 rebounds and 5.2 steals per game. Carlene Mitchell is in her first season as the head coach of UC Santa Barbara.