NORTHRIDGE, Calif. --- The Cal State Northridge women's basketball team (6-7, 1-0 Big West) defeated UC Irvine 55-49 in both teams' Big West Conference opener Thursday afternoon at The Matadome. Freshman Janae Sharpe scored a season-high 19 points, including 12 in the second half, to help lead the Matadors to the victory over the Anteaters.
Offensively, neither team shot the ball at a high percentage for the day. CSUN finished at 32.8 percent (22-of-67) from the field compared to 34.8 percent (16-of-46) for UCI. That led to a interesting finish down the stretch.
The Anteaters actually took a 44-41 lead with 7:28 left in the game. From there, the Matadors finished the contest on a 14-5 run. Sharpe scored eight of her game-high 19 points in that stretch and Jessica Duarte hit the game's only 3-pointer with 5:27 left in the game to give the Matadors the lead for good.
Sharpe finished 7-of-15 from the field and added two rebounds, two assists and a season-high seven steals in the contest. Duarte finished with five points with one assist and one steal in 27 minutes of action.
Senior Jasmine Erving added nine points and eight rebounds for the Matadors. The scoring performance pushed her career total to 1,277 and moved her past Paula Moran for fourth in school history.
CSUN also got some nice contributions from its bench. Junior Violet Alama finished with 6 points, four rebounds and four steals in 24 minutes. Freshman Camille Mahlknecht added three points, six rebounds and a season-high five blocked shots in 20 minutes.
For the game, CSUN forced 33 UCI turnovers while coughing it up just 13 times. Northridge scored 29 points off those 33 turnovers. The Anteaters out-rebounded the Matadors 53-31 for the contest and their bench added 32 points.
In all, the game was tied seven times and featured 10 lead changes. Jasmine Bernard led UCI with 12 points and eight rebounds.
CSUN will look to keep up its winning ways Saturday when UC Riverside comes to The Matadome. Tip off between the Matadors and Highlanders on New Year's Eve is slated for 4 p.m.