Matadors Face Titans in Regular Season Finale
NORTHRIDGE, Calif. --- The Cal State Northridge women's basketball team (16-12, 10-5 Big West) closes out the 2011-12 regular season with a home contest against Cal State Fullerton at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Mar. 3. Links for live stats, audio and video will be available at GoMatadors.com and fans are also encouraged to check the CSUN athletic department's twitter account (@GoMatadors) for in-game updates. After the game, the team will host a ceremony honoring CSUN's two seniors: Jasmine Erving and Bridgette Conejo.
Last week was a tough one for CSUN, which dropped a pair of league contests on the road. At UCSB, the Matadors scored a season-low 44 points and Erving was the only player to reach double-figures with 13 points.
Two days later, a rowdy Mott Gym and a Cal Poly team celebrating its senior day handed Northridge a 70-56 loss. Janae Sharpe had a team-high 14 points while Jianni Jackson finished with 12 and Ashlee Guay had 10 points. During the game, Guay posted four steals and established a new school single-season record.
This week, Cal State Fullerton comes calling to The Matadome for a Saturday matinee. The Titans have won two-straight league games and have all but wrapped up a berth in the Big West Conference tournament. They are led by a senior as well, Megan Richardson, who is averaging over 16 points per game.
Next week brings the 2012 Big West Tournament with a spot in the NCAA Tournament at stake. On Tuesday, Mar. 6, CSUN will host a quarterfinal contest at 7 p.m. The Matadors will not know who their opponent is until Saturday evening. The semifinals and finals of tournament (Mar. 9-10) are at The Honda Center in Anaheim. More details will be made public as they become available.
CSUN's Dr. J
Senior Jasmine Erving enters her final regular season home game having had quite a career for the Matadors. With her expected start against the Titans, she will set a new school Division-I record for career starts. Erving had 13 points and six rebounds at UCSB and enters Saturday's regular season finale averaging 15.4 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. Both averages rank third among all Big West players and she is tied for second in the league with an average of 1.4 blocks per game. 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. Her 12 double-doubles on the year give her 25 for her Matador career and she has scored in double-figures in 75 games. Finally, Erving cracked the 1,500 career point plateau last week.
Freshman Janae Sharpe led CSUN with 14 points in the game at Cal Poly. She tied a season high for the third time when she scored 19 points, including 17 in the second half, in the home win over Pacific. For the season, Sharpe is averaging 11.1 points per game, the second-best figure on the team and 10th among all Big West players. She is also averaging 4.2 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 2.0 steals (third in the league) per game and has scored in double-figures 16 times this season. Sharpe tied a season 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.
A Guay with Words
Freshman Ashlee Guay has set a new school record with her 86 steals this season, surpassing the previous mark of 84 set during the school's Division-II era. After finishing with four steals at Cal Poly, Guay has now had two games with seven steals, two with six and six more with at least four. She now ranks 18th among all Division I players with her steals average of 3.1 per game. The San Diego, Calif., native is also averaging 8.7 points, 3.8 rebounds and a league-leading 4.1 assists for the year. 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. Guay also dished out a season-high nine assists in the Matadors' victory at UC Irvine.
Do or Duarte
Freshman Jessica Duarte has repeatedly come up with big shots during her rookie season. In the win over UC Davis, Duarte scored all 11 of her points in the second half as CSUN rallied from a double-digit deficit. 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 6.8 points and has hit 23 3-pointers. She has also reached 11 points against the Pepperdine Waves and in CSUN's win over San Jose State.
Georgia On My Mind
Freshman Randi Friess has earned a spot in the rotation based largely on her hustle and fearlessness in crashing the boards. Originally from Savannah, Ga., Friess tied a season high with nine rebounds in the Matadors' home victory over Pacific. She also 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 2.8 points and 3.3 rebounds, including a season-high nine boards against CSU Bakersfield. One statistic that speaks to Friess' hustle is that 16 of her 20 steals have come against Big West opponents.
Mahl-Knechting the Dots
Freshman Camille Mahlknecht finished with five points, seven rebounds, three assists and two blocks in the home win over UCD. She 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 3.9 rebounds per game. She now has 39 blocks on the year, a 1.4 per game average that ranks tied for second 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.
Roses are Blue, Violets are Matador Red
Junior Violet Alama continues to bring a strong presence off the bench for the Matadors. In the Matadors' home win over the Aggies, she had nine points, seven rebounds, four steals and two assists. 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 28 games, Alama is averaging 7.2 points and 5.9 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.
I'm Sorry Ms. Jackson
Junior Jianni Jackson finished with 12 points, four rebounds and tied a season high with three steals in the Matadors' game at Cal Poly. She tied a season high with four field goals, including a season-high two 3-pointers, against the Mustangs. Jackson scored a season-high 14 points and had seven rebounds in the Matadors' win at Pacific. For the season, she is averaging 2.7 points and 1.9 rebounds per game.
Conference and National Notes
Through 28 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 (.374), fourth in scoring defense (64.0 ppg) and fifth in 3-point field goal percentage defense (.308). Northridge leads the league and ranks 60th in the nation with an average of 4.4 blocks per game and has a league-leading 294 steals. On offense, CSUN ranks second in the Big West and 105th in the nation with a team free throw percentage of .708 (421-595). Individually, freshman Ashlee Guay leads the league with a school-record 86 steals and ranks 18th among all Division I players with an average of 3.1 per game. Guay also ranks 79th in the nation with her league-leading assist average of 4.2 per game. With 12 double-doubles, Jasmine Erving is tied for 26th in the nation among all Division I players. Erving also checks in at 94th in the nation in field goal percentage (.455), 123rd in points per game (15.4), 114th in rebounds per game (8.2) and 120th in blocks per game (1.4).
Already a Season of Firsts
The Matadors have recorded double-figure conference wins for the first time since 2004-05 and just the fourth time in the school's Division I history. Northridge's home win over UC Davis was CSUN's first since 2007. The home win over Pacific marked the first time CSUN has swept the Tigers in the regular season series since the 2004-05 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 Cal State Fullerton
Cal State Fullerton enters the week with an 11-16 overall record and a 4-10 mark in the Big West Conference. Before playing the Matadors on Mar. 3, the Titans will play at Long Beach State on Mar. 1. Megan Richardson, a senior guard, leads the team in scoring at 16.2 points per game. She is shooting 39.5 percent from the field, 36.7 percent from 3-point range and 81.0 percent from the free throw line for the season. Mya Olivier is second on the team in scoring at 8.6 ppg and is also averaging a team-high 7.6 rebounds per contest. Lauren Chow is another senior guard who has hit 46 3-pointers on the season and is averaging 8.1 ppg. As a team, Cal State Fullerton is shooting 36.2 percent from the field, 29.5 percent from 3-point range and 69.5 percent from the free throw line. The Titans are averaging 39.8 rebounds, 12.4 assists and 17.9 turnovers per contest. CSUN has won six of its past seven meetings with its Orange County rival, including a 62-56 overtime victory at Titan Gym on Jan. 25. In the contest, Jessica Duarte hit two big 3-pointers and Jasmine Erving had 14 points and 12 rebounds.