February 9, 2009

Northridge Opens Second Half Of League Play at Long Beach State

Feb. 9, 2009

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -

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With eight games remaining and a spot in the Big West Tournament firmly within its reach, the Cal State Northridge women's basketball team (5-16, 2-6 BWC) open the second half of league play with a pivotal game at Long Beach State. Coming off a 10-day layoff, the Matadors are rested and ready to face a 49ers team they defeated 88-84 in overtime at The Matadome on Jan. 17.

In that overtime thriller, Jasmine Erving and Katrina Thompson each posted a double-double, finishing wih a combined 40 points and 25 rebounds. Whitney Ligon added 23 points and Tonicia Tademy dished out nine assists as the Matadors stormed back after halftime, outscoring LBSU 61-30 following the first half.

Now the Matadors head to The Pyramid for the second meeting with a team they are fighting with for a spot in the Big West Tournament. At 2-8 in the league, LBSU currently resides at eighth place in the standings, the last spot for the tournament.

For Tademy, her 139 assists on the season has set a new school record and she ranks fifth in the nation with an average of 6.6 per game. She set a new career high with 12 assists against Cal Poly and also ranks 57th in the nation with a conference-best 1.58 assist-to-turnover ratio.

Thompson's play has increased tremendously since the start of league play, where she is averaging 10.6 points and 8.9 rebounds. She also recorded her first four career double-doubles in a stretch from Jan. 17 to Jan. 28. She now ranks seventh in the league in rebounding (6.5) and fifth in steals (1.9) for the season.

Even as freshman, Erving has already established herself as one of the league's better post players. She is third in the league in field goal percentage (.463), 10th in rebounding (5.8) and third in blocked shots (1.4). She has recorded three double-doubles on the season and is averaging 9.6 points per game.

Another key component to the Matador attack has been the play of Ligon and Ashley Blake. The two have combined for 61 3-pointers on the season. Ligon ranks eighth in the league at 12.4 points per game and Blake is fourth in 3-pointers per game at 1.7.

As a team, Northridge is shooting 37.2 percent from the floor for the season, a rate that has increased to 40.6 in its eight league games. The Matadors are forcing 18.6 turnovers per game and are scoring a league-high 65.8 points per game in conference play.

The Long Beach State 49ers are the Matadors first opponent in the second half of Big West play. Last weekend, LBSU split a roadtrip to Northern California, defeating UC Davis, 68-64, before falling in overtime at Pacific, 98-92. The 49ers have been spurred to a 2-2 record over their past four games by the return of LaTorya Barbee, who is averaging 11 points in those games.

Whitney Fields remains the team's top scorer and rebounder, averaging 12 points and 8.4 rebounds. She is shooting 38.5 percent from the field for the season and also has 35 steals and 30 assists on the year. Lauren Sims is averaging 8.5 points for the year, but has improved her total in Big West play to a team-high 12.6 points. Against league opponents, she is shooting 42.2 percent from the field and 37.9 percent from 3-point range.

As a team, Long Beach is averaging 60.5 points per game and shooting 37.5 percent fromthe field. The 49ers rank second in the conference in rebounding offense, averaging 40.9 boards per game, and third in blocked shots with 76.

In their last meeting, the Matadors took an 88-84 overtime decision over the 49ers at The Matadome on Jan. 17. Freshman Jasmine Erving led the Matadors with 25 points and 11 rebounds while Katrina Thompson also had a double-double with 15 points and 14 rebounds. Fields led LBSU with 24 points and 10 rebounds in the defeat.

The Matadors play one more time this week, traveling to the Inland Empire to face UC Riverside on Saturday. The Highlanders defeated Northridge, 71-61, in their earlier meeting this season. Tip-off from the Student Rec Center is slated for 5 p.m.

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