CSUN Hosts Pacific, UC Davis in Pivotal Big West Contests

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Matadors Face Tigers, Aggies with Playoff Implications

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. --- The Cal State Northridge women's basketball team (14-10, 8-3 Big West) returns to action this week with a pair of important Big West Conference match-ups. On Feb. 16, Northridge hosts Pacific at 7 p.m., and then faces UC Davis on Feb. 18 at 2 p.m. The game versus the Aggies is part of the WBCA's Pink Zone initiative and all fans wearing pink receive free admission. Links for live stats, audio and video will be available at GoMatadors.com and twitter updates @GoMatadors. 

Last week, CSUN dropped a heartbreaking 75-72 double-overtime decision at home to Long Beach State. The 49ers made a lay-up to force the extra period and carried that momentum throughout the two extra periods in snapping the Matadors' four-game winning streak. 

Jasmine Erving led the Matadors with 20 points and 10 rebounds against LBSU, her 11th double-double of the season. She also set a new school record during the contest, recording the 137th blocked shot of her career. Freshman Janae Sharpe added 17 points for Northridge in defeat. 

This week, CSUN faces a pair of clubs nipping at its heels in the conference standings. Both Pacific and UC Davis enter the week just a half game behind Northridge in the standings with roughly six games left on the slate. Earlier this year, CSUN lost by just two at UC Davis before pulling off a stunning rally in knocking off Pacific in Stockton at the Spanos Center. 

Next week, the Matadors head North for their final regular season road trip of the year. On Feb. 23, Northridge faces UC Santa Barbara. Two days later, CSUN pays a visit to Mott Gym to take on the Cal Poly Mustangs. 

CSUN's Dr. J 

Senior Jasmine Erving led the Matadors with 20 points and 10 rebounds in their loss to Long Beach State, posting her 11th double-double of the season. In the loss, Erving also set a new school record when she recorded her 137th block of her career. She earned Big West Player of the Week honors on Feb. 6 after posting two solid performances in both of CSUN's road wins. At UC Riverside, she scored 22 points, all in the second half, and added 11 rebounds as CSUN erased a 14-point deficit in toppling the Highlanders. Two days later, Erving scored a career-high 36 points on a school-record 16 field goals to go along with nine rebounds at UC Irvine. The Santa Ana, Calif., native enters Thursday's game averaging 15.6 points and 8.6 rebounds per game, figures that rank third and second, respectively, among all Big West Conference players. The 11 season double-doubles gives her 24 for her Matador career.

A Guay with Words Freshman

Ashlee Guay dished out a season-high nine assists in the Matadors' victory at UC Irvine. The San Diego, Calif., native is averaging 9.1 points, 3.6 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 3.3 steals for the year. In fact, Guay leads the league with 78 steals and 102 assists on the season. She tied a school Division I record when she hit seven 3-pointers in the Matadors' win over Cal Poly. Against the Mustangs, Guay hit all seven of her attempts from downtown and finished with a season-high 23 points. In fact, Guay is tied for the national mark this season for most 3-point makes without a miss. After finishing with six steals against UCI, Guay has now had two games with seven steals, two with six and five more with at least four. She now ranks 14th among all Division I players with her steals average and she has set a new school Division-I record with 78 steals on the year, the third-most in school history for a single season. 

Mighty Sharpe

Freshman Janae Sharpe finished with 17 points, including eight free throws, in CSUN's loss to LBSU. For the season, Sharpe is averaging 10.9 points per game, the second-best figure on the team and 11th among all Big West players. She is also averaging 4.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.3 steals (third in the league) per game and has scored in double-figures 14 times this season. Sharpe had a career high with 19 points in the Matadors' double-overtime loss to UC Santa Barbara. She hit 11-of-14 free throws against the Gauchos, which also set a new season high. Sharpe had a strong start to her Big West career, earning the league's Player of the Week after helping lead the Matadors to a pair of wins during the opening weekend of conference 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. 

Georgia on My Mind

Freshman Randi Friess has earned a spot in the starting line-up based largely on her hustle and fearlessness in crashing the boards. Originally from Savannah, Ga., Friess had a season-high eight points in the Matadors' win at UC Riverside and then knocked down a season-high two 3-pointers in CSUN's win at UC Irvine. For the season, Friess is averaging 3.0 points and 3.2 rebounds, including a season-high nine boards against CSU Bakersfield. One statistic that speaks to Friess' hustle is that 12 of her 16 steals have come against Big West opponents. 

Mahl-Knechting the Dots

Freshman Camille Mahlknecht added 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting in the loss to LBSU. She also finished with 11 points and four rebounds in 21 minutes at UC Irvine. She added 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 5.3 points and 3.8 rebounds per game. She now has 32 blocks on the year, a 1.3 per game average that ranks third in the Big West Conference. Offensively, Mahlknecht has five 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 has repeatedly come up with big shots during her rookie season. She hit two key 3-pointers in the Matadors' road win at Cal State Fullerton and also has had memorable buckets against Pepperdine, West Virginia and UC Santa Barbara. Duarte finished with 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 6.7 points and has hit 20 3-pointers. She has also reached 11 points twice this year, against the Waves and in CSUN's win over San Jose State. 

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 24 games, Alama is averaging 7.5 points and 6.3 rebounds, the 9th-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. 

Conference and National Notes

Through 24 games this season, the Matadors find themselves with some pretty impressive stats. Defensively, the Matadors are second in the conference in field goal percentage defense (.370) and third in 3-point field goal percentage defense (.298). Northridge also leads the league and ranks 59th in the nation with an average of 4.5 blocks per game. On offense, CSUN ranks second in the Big West and 89th in the nation with a team free throw percentage of .720 (362-503). Individually, freshman Ashlee Guay is second in the league and ranks 14th among all Division I players with an average of 3.3 steals per game. With 11 double-doubles, Jasmine Erving is tied for 22nd in the nation among all Division I players. She has 24 double-doubles in her career. 

Already a Season of Firsts

Northridge has accomplished several notable feats through 24 games of the 2011-12 season. The Matadors picked up their first conference series sweep over UC Riverside ever and also won for the first time at the Highlanders in over six years. 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 1990. 

Scouting Pacific

Pacific enters the week at 14-9 overall and 7-4 in the Big West Conference, just a half game back in the standings from the Matadors. The Tigers defended their home court and improved their home record to 9-2 with wins over UC Irvine and UC Riverside last week. Kendall Rodriguez leads the team in scoring at 12.6 points per game and in rebounding at 7.8 boards per game. She is shooting .354 from the field and .369 from 3-point range on the season. Kendall Kenyon earned the league's Player of the Week honors after posting 40 points in 40 minutes played in the games against the Highlanders and Anteaters. She averages 7.4 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. Erica McKenzie has hit a league-leading 53 3-pointers on the year and is averaging 11.4 ppg. As a team, Pacific is shooting 40.3 percent from the field, 32.6 percent from 3-point range and 68.6 percent from the free throw line. The Tigers also average 41.0 rebounds, 13.9 assists and 19.0 turnovers per contest. CSUN rallied from a big halftime deficit to defeat Pacific 72-68 in the first meeting this season between the two schools. 

Scouting UC Davis

UC Davis enters the week with a 15-8 overall record and a 7-4 mark in the Big West Conference. The Aggies will first face Long Beach State at The Walter Pyramid on Feb. 16 before facing the Matadors on Feb. 18 at 2 p.m. UCD pulled out a 55-53 win over CSUN in the earlier meeting this season, though CSUN rallied from down 16 in the second half and had several chances to tie or win the game in the final minute. Samantha Meggison leads the team in scoring at 9.9 ppg and is also leading UC Davis in rebounding at 4.9 rpg. Hannah Stephens is averaging 9.7 points and 3.4 rebounds on the year and leads the club 45 steals on the season. As a team, UC Davis is shooting 38.8 percent from the field, 30.6 percent from 3-point range and 68.1 percent from the free throw line. The Aggies also average 31.8 rebounds, 14.0 assists and 15.3 turnovers per game. UC Davis has won the past five meetings with Cal State Northridge.