Northridge Rings in New Year with Big West Openers at Pacific, UC Davis

Dec. 31, 2008

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -

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Riding the momentum of a two-game winning streak, the Cal State Northridge women's basketball team (3-10) opens the Big West portion of its schedule with games at Pacific and UC Davis. The Matadors face the Tigers on Jan. 2 at 7 p.m. and then face the Aggies on Jan. 4 at 2 p.m.

Among the highlights for Northridge in its win over Eastern Washington and Columbia was the play of the senior guards. Ashley Blake, Tonicia Tademy and Whitney Ligon all poured in outstanding performances against the Eagles and Lions.

Blake led the team with 11 points against Eastern Washington and then knocked down a career-high six free throws against Columbia. She lead the Big West Conference with a 1.82 assist-to-turnover ratio, which ranks 49th in the nation, and is averaging 8.3 points, 3.1 assists and 2.6 rebounds per game, all of which are career highs.

Tademy continues to lead the conference with an average of 5.6 assists-per-game, which checks in at 15th in the nation. She tied a career high with 11 dimes against Columbia, which tied for the ninth-best performance in Division I this season. She is also averaging 6.1 points and 4.2 rebounds per game.

Ligon scored a season-high 22 points in the win against Columbia and leads the team at 10.3 points-per-game. She has reached double-figures a team-high six times this season and ranks fifth in the Big West Conference with a 78.8 percent rate from the free throw line (41-of-52).

The Matadors have benefited from an increased defensive focus that forced Eastern Washington into 30 turnovers and Columbia into 25 miscues. Junior Katrina Thompson had a career-high seven steals against the Lions and is averaging 2.1 per game, the fourth-best figure in the conference.

Sophomore Analee Viena-Lota posted her fourth career double-double coming off the bench in the win against the Lions. She had 12 points and 11 rebounds in only 26 minutes of action. She is averaging a team-high 5.4 rebounds-per-game.

The Pacific Tigers are the first Northridge opponent in the 2009 Big West season. The Tigers are 6-5 overall, having defeated run a 6-0 record at home during the non-conference season. They played one common opponent as the Matadors, losing 63-58 to Eastern Washington on Dec. 13.

Amber Simmons is the team's leading scorer, averaging 20.8 points per game. She is shooting 51.2 percent from the field and is also averaging 8.2 rebounds per game. Janae Young is also averaging double figures at 11.1 ppg. She is posting 7.1 rebound per game as well.

Pacific owns a two-game winning streak, having swept the Matadors last season. In Stockton, Northridge nearly picked off the Tigers, falling 79-73, despite 40 points from Whitney Ligon. Pacfic then won 66-52 at The Matadome and owns an 11-7 record in the all-time series.

The Aggies open their second season as a member of the Big West Conference when the Matadors pay a visit on Jan. 4. UC Davis dropped a 65-59 decision to Seattle University on Tuesday night. Lauren Juric led the team with 14 points and also had seven rebounds. Hana Asano had 13 points and four assists for UCD.

Paige Mintun leads the team with an average of 12.3 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. Hayee Donaghe is also scoring in double-figures at 11.6 ppg. The Aggies are averaging 20.6 turnovers in their first 11 contests.

Northridge owns a 9-8 record in the all-time series between the schools, though UC Davis has won the last three contests. Sandy Simpson is in his 12th season as the head coach at UC Davis, having amassed a 199-122 record during his tenure. The Aggies participated in the Postseason WNIT after finishing second in the league last year.

Following the UC Davis game, Northridge has 10 days off, returning to the court on Jan. 14 to host UC Riverside (7 p.m.) and then facing Long Beach State (4 p.m.) on Jan. 17 at The Matadome. All games can be heard on gomatadors.com with Dave Caldwell providing play-by-play coverage on gomatadors.com.

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