January 2, 2013

CSUN Opens New Year at UC Riverside, Cal State Fullerton

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. --- 

Matadors Travel to Highlanders, Titans to Start League Play

The Cal State Northridge women's basketball team (6-5) opens its 2013 Big West Conference season with a pair of road contests this weekend. On Thursday, Jan. 3, the Matadors start league play with a 7 p.m. contest at UC Riverside. Two days later, CSUN travels to Orange County to face Cal State Fullerton in a 3 p.m. contest at Titan Gym. Both games will feature live video, live audio and live stats all available at GoMatadors.com. Fans are also encouraged to check with the CSUN Athletic Department's official Twitter account (@GoMatadors) for in-game updates.

Last week, CSUN suffered a 79-57 setback at No. 17 Oklahoma. After closing to within two points midway through the first half, the Sooners road some hot shooting to pull away from the Matadors. Jianni Jackson and Janae Sharpe each had 12 points for the Matadors and Jackson pulled down a team-high seven rebounds.

This week CSUN sets its sights on the Big West title with a pair of road challenges, beginning with a Thursday night affair at UC Riverside. The Highlanders are 7-4 overall on the season and are coming off an 82-66 victory over UNLV on Dec. 29. Senior Tre'Shonti Nottingham leads UCR and the Big West in scoring at 21.4 points per game. Freshman Brittany Crain and junior Natasha Hadley are averaging 14.5 and 10.4 points, respectively, on the season as well.

Cal State Fullerton is 4-8 on the season and has won two-straight games: vs. San Jose State (60-59) and Columbia (61-49). Chante Miles leads the Titans in scoring at 13.4 points per game while shooting 34.8 percent from the field. She is also averaging 2.6 steals, 3.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists per contest. Kathleen Iwuoha is the team's top rebounder at 7.4 per contest to go with 6.1 ppg. The Titans host Hawai'i on Jan. 3 before facing the Matadors.

Next week CSUN hosts a pair of conference games at The Matadome, its first home game since a 77-33 victory over San Francisco on Dec. 5. On Wednesday, Jan. 9, Northridge will face Long Beach State in a 7 p.m. contest, followed three days later by a 4 p.m. game against UC Irvine on Saturday, Jan. 12.

Meet the Meteoric Marta Masoni 

Freshman Marta Masoni continues to have a strong first season with the Matadors. She ranks second on the Matadors in scoring and sixth in the Big West Conference at 13.8 points per game. Masoni knocked down a season-high six 3-pointers and finished with 18 points in the Matadors' win at UCLA. She has led CSUN in scoring in two of its last four games, finishing with 15 vs. San Francisco and 14 at Fresno State. She matched her season high with 22 points in the win at Santa Clara, finishing 8-of-12 from the field and 3-of-4 from 3-point range. She produced a season-high 22 points, including five 3-pointers, in the Matadors' loss to Penn State in the CSUN Thanksgiving Classic. Through 11 games, Masoni is averaging 13.8 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.7 assists per contest. She leads the Big West Conference in 3-pointers (34) and ranks third in the league at 44.7 percent from beyond the arc (34-of-76). Masoni also ranks ninth in field goal percentage (.403) and second in minutes per game (34.9). She started her career with a bang, finishing with 17 points, including five 3-pointers, as Northridge defeated Portland. Originally from Taranto, Italy, Masoni was a member of the Italian Women's Basketball team that captured the U-18 European Championships in 2010.

A Guay with Words 

Sophomore Ashlee Guay poured in a career-high 28 points in the Matadors' historic victory at UCLA. She was 9-of-14 from the field and 10-of-12 from the free throw line, matching career highs in both field goals and free throws. She is now averaging 14.0 points per game to lead the team and rank fifth in the conference. She has reached double figures in nine of the first 11 games and finished with 11 points, four assists and five steals in the win over San Francisco. Guay earned all-tournament honors at CSUN's Thanksgiving Classic after averaging 15 points, nine assists and five rebounds in the two games. She dished out a career-high 12 assists, matching the school record, in the Matadors' loss to Penn State and is now averaging 4.3 assists per game. She scored a game-high 20 points in the Matadors' season-opening victory over Portland, including a career-high nine field goals. For that performance, Guay was named the Big West Conference Player of the Week. For the year, Guay has 47 assists, 36 rebounds and 28 steals.

Mighty Sharpe

Sophomore Janae Sharpe has made an immediate impact for CSUN since returning from a lower body injury. She tied for a team-high 12 points and had four steals at Oklahoma. Sharpe made her season debut for the Matadors in their games at Santa Clara and San Jose State. She finished with 16 points in the loss to the Spartans, adding five field goals, five free throws and three rebounds. Against San Francisco, Sharpe finished with 11 points, five assists and three rebounds in 18 minutes of action. At Fresno State, she produced 11 points, six rebounds and four assists. The 2011-12 Big West Freshman of the Year, Sharpe has averaged over 11 points per game in 35 career appearances for the Matadors. For the season, she is averaging 10.0 points, 3.0 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game.

Mahl-Knechting the Dots

Sophomore Camille Mahlknecht has recorded double-doubles in two of the last four Matador games. Against San Francisco, she just missed a triple-double by posting 14 points, 13 rebounds and a school-record eight blocked shots. At Fresno State, she finished with 10 points and a game-high 12 rebounds. Mahlknecht also had a strong performance in the Matadors' Thanksgiving Classic. She had 14 points and five blocks in the win over South Alabama and then tied a career high with 13 rebounds against Penn State. Mahlknecht produced her first career double-double when she finished with a career-high 22 points and 13 rebounds in the win over Eastern Washington. She also had a career-high nine field goals and three blocks in the win over the Eagles. For the season, Mahlknecht is averaging 7.5 points, 8.0 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game. She leads the Big West Conference in blocks per game and is fourth in rebounds per game. With 75 blocks in 42 career games, Mahlknecht is now eighth in school history.

Georgia on My Mind

Sophomore Randi Friess continues to earn large playing time due to her hustle and defense. Through 11 games, the second-year player from Savannah, Ga., is averaging 5.8 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.5 steals per contest. In CSUN's win at UCLA, she pulled down a team-high nine rebounds to go with six points, three assists and two steals. She produced her first two career double-digit scoring performances earlier in the season. She poured in a career-high 12 points in the Matadors' loss at Arizona and then scored 10 points, including a career-high three 3-pointers, in the Matadors' loss to Penn State. Friess produced a career-high four field goals against Arizona and tied a career high with nine rebounds in the Matadors' win over Eastern Washington. She ranks 13th in the conference in rebounds per game.

Violets are Matador Red

Senior Violet Alama scored a season-high 11 points in the Matadors' loss to Penn State in the CSUN Thanksgiving Classic. The day before, she pulled down a season-high nine rebounds in the Matadors' win over South Alabama. Alama opened the season with eight points and eight rebounds in the Matadors' season-opening victory over Portland. She now has 561 rebounds in her career, which stands eighth in school history. She also has 203 career free throws, the 10th-most in school history. In 100 career games, Alama has averaged 7.3 points and 5.6 rebounds per contest.

I'm Sorry Ms. Jackson

Senior Jianni Jackson had her best game of the season in the Matadors' loss at Oklahoma. Jackson posted 12 points, a career-high five field goals and a team-high seven rebounds against the Sooners. Against San Jose State, she finished with 11 points and eight rebounds. In fact, the eight boards set a new career best for Jackson in her time at Northridge. In the win over Santa Clara, she tied a career high with two 3-pointers and is now averaging 5.0 points and 3.5 rebounds in nine contests.

Haley's Comet

Junior Haley White hit two key 3-pointers in the Matadors' win at UCLA and finished with eight points against the Bruins. She had a strong start to her third season with the Matadors. In the win over Portland, White came off the bench to finish with eight points, 10 assists, seven rebounds and three steals. The 10 dimes matched White's career high and the seven rebounds were two shy of her career best. In 72 career games with the Matadors, White has averaged 4.2 points, 2.4 rebounds and 2.4 assists.

Hurricane Breezy

Freshman Breeyon Alexander has brought energy and intensity off the bench for the Matadors thus far in the 2012-13 season. Alexander, who goes by the nickname "Breezy," had eight points, including two 3-pointers, in the Matadors' win over Eastern Washington. She grabbed a season-high five rebounds in the Matadors' victory over South Alabama and is averaging 1,8 points, 1.7 rebounds and 0.5 assists per game.

Conference and National Notes

As of Dec. 31, CSUN led the Big West in field goal percentage defense (.342), 3-point field goal percentage (.360), 3-pointers per game (7.5) and blocked shots per game (5.0). The Matadors also rank second in the conference in scoring defense (60.5) and 3-point field goal percentage defense (.265).

Among 343 teams in Division I as of Dec. 30, CSUN ranks 25th in 3-pointers per game and 3-point percentage, 33rd in blocks per game, 39th in field goal percentage defense and 55th in 3-point FG defense.

Individually, Northridge has two of the league's top scorers on a per-game average (Ashlee Guay, Marta Masoni) and two players among the league's top 15 rebounders (Camille Mahlknecht, Randi Friess). Masoni leads the Big West in 3-pointers per game (3.1) and is third in 3-point field percentage (.446), figures that stand nationally at 15th and 17th respectively. With 29 blocks in nine games, Mahlknecht ranks 17th in Division I and leads the Big West at 2.7 blocks per game.

Matadors Sign Four to NLIs

Cal State Northridge head coach Jason Flowers has announced the signing of four student-athletes to National Letters of Intent to begin play with the Matadors starting in the 2013-14 season. Amber Blockmon, Emily Cole, Katelin King and Samantha Young bring prolific prep careers and outstanding character to the Matadors.

Follow Your Matadors Online

All home games this season will include live stats coverage, a free audio broadcast and free live video through Big West TV. For road contests related links to the game, including for any live stats, audio and video, will be posted before the contest on the schedule page of GoMatadors.com. Fans are also encouraged to check the Cal State Northridge Athletics Department's official Twitter feed (@GoMatadors) for updates of matches in progress and news and notes throughout the week.