February 16, 2009

Northridge Hosts UC Irvine with Big West Tournament Implications on the Line

Feb. 16, 2009

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -

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The Cal State Northridge women's basketball team (5-18, 2-8 BWC) host UC Irvine Wednesday at 7 p.m. in a pivotal Big West Conference game with playoff implications firmly at stake. The Matadors, in association with the Women's Basketball Coach's Association, will be participating in Pink Zone promotions for the game, raising awareness for breast cancer research.

All fans wearing pink to The Matdome Wednesday will receive free admission. The game holds extra significance with the passing of North Carolina State head coach Kay Yow on Jan. 24, who battled with breast cancer for over 20 years.

A look at the Big West standings show the Matadors and Anteaters currently residing in eighth and ninth place, respectively, with the league taking only the top eight teams to the conference tournament in Anaheim.

In the first meeting this season, UCI picked up their first home and conference win of the season with a 48-46 decision on Jan. 24 in Irvine. Since that game, Northridge has dropped five-straight games by an average of 12 points.

Now, the Matadors will look to defend their home court against Wednesday night. Despite dropping a pair of league games last week, Northridge remains confident heading into this pivotal game. CSUN has posted a 4-5 record at The Matadome this season, averaging 64 points in the nine contests.

With her four 3-pointers at UC Riverside, senior Ashley Blake has improved her season total to 40, which is tied for ninth in school history in a single season. She is averaging a career-high 8.6 points and is shooting 31 percent from 3-point range in her final season with the Matadors.

At 149 assists for the season, senior Tonicia Tademy has set a new school record and leads the league with an average of 6.5 per game. That figures represents the sixth-best figure in the nation throughout all of Division I.

Finally, a third senior, Whitney Ligon, continues to pace CSUN in scoring with an average of 11.5 per game. In just two seasons, she has already canned 71 3-pointers and has scored in double-figures in exactly half (25) of her career games (50).

Up front for Northridge, Katrina Thompson and Jasmine Erving continue to lead the Matadors in rebounding. Thompson ranks seventh in the conference with an average of 6.3 per game, while Erving checks in at 10th with an even six per game. For the season, Thompson is scoring a career-high 7.0 points, while Erving is posting 9.8 points per game and leads the Matadors with a 46.9 percent field goal rate.

As a team, Northridge is averaging 59.3 points for the season, a figure that improves to 61.7 in its 10 Big West games. The Matadors are shooting 36.3 percent for the season and are averaging 35.4 rebounds per game. They are forcing 20 opponent turnovers per game.

With a spot in Anaheim squarely on the line, UC Irvine visits the Matadors Wednesday in a Big West Conference game with playoff implications on the line. The Anteaters are 5-20 overall and 2-10 in the conference, but own a 48-46 victory over Northridge at Irvine on Jan. 24.

UCI enters Wednesday's game on a six-game losing streak, including a 56-24 loss to UC Davis and a 48-44 loss to Pacific at home over the weekend. As a team, the Anteaters are averaging 48.8 points per game, a rate that drops to 45.5 per game in their 12 league contests.

Rebecca Maessen leads the team with an average of 13.1 points and is pulling down 4.4 rebounds per game. Kirian Ishizaki is the team's second leading scorer with an average of 6.8 points per game. Kim Barnes leads the team with an average of 5.2 rebounds per game.

The Anteaters have won the last three games in the series, though CSUN owns a 17-16 advantage in the all-time series. Molly Goodenbour is in her first season as the head coach at UC Irvine.

Following the game against UCI, Northridge plays Cal State Fullerton at The Matadome Saturday. The Matadors' game against the Titans is slated for a 4 p.m. tip-off and all high school students with a school I.D. will receive free admission to the game.

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