January 31, 2012

CSUN Travels for Big West Contests at UC Riverside, UC Irvine

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Matadors Start Second Half of League Play

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. --- The Cal State Northridge women's basketball team (12-9, 6-2 Big West) hits the road to start the second half of Big West Conference play. On Thursday, Feb. 2, the Matadors travel to the Inland Empire to face UC Riverside in a 4 p.m. matinee. Two days later, Northridge heads to Orange County to face UC Irvine also at 4 p.m. Both games will feature live stats, live radio and video available at GoMatadors.com. 

Last week, the Matadors took a pair of victories to move three games over the .500 mark. On Jan. 25, CSUN defeated Cal State Fullerton 61-56 in overtime. Jasmine Erving finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds and Jessica Duarte hit a pair of big 3-pointers as the Matadors recorded their sixth win the last seven meetings with the Titans. 

Two days later, Northridge held on to defeat CSU Bakersfield 54-52 at The Matadome. Erving led the Matadors with 17 points and eight rebounds. During the game, she also tied Crystal Hahs for the school record in career blocked shots, standing at 136 rejections entering Thursday's game at UC Irvine. 

This week, Northridge travels for a pair of league games. Up first is a UC Riverside team that has won its past two Big West games and has been bolstered by the return of its point guard, Tre'Shonti Nottingham. On Saturday, the Matadors renew acquaintances with UC Irvine, a team Northridge knocked off in late December. At 5-3, the Anteaters are just one game back in the conference standings.

Following the games with the Highlanders and Anteaters, the Matadors return home for a Feb. 11 contest with Long Beach State. 

A Guay with Words Freshman

Ashlee Guay tied a school Division I record when she hit seven 3-pointers in the Matadors' win over Cal Poly. Against the Mustangs, Guay hit all seven of her attempts from downtown and finished with a season-high 23 points. In fact, Guay owns the national mark this season for most 3-point makes without a miss. The San Diego, Calif., native is averaging 9.4 points, 3.6 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 3.2 steals for the year. Guay leads the league with 68 steals on the season and also ranks second with 83 assists and an average of 34.2 minutes per game. After finishing with five steals against UCSB, Guay has now had two games with seven steals, one with six and five more with at least four. She now ranks 19th among all Division I players with her steals per game average and is five steals shy of setting a new school record. 

CSUN's Dr. J

Senior Jasmine Erving posted her ninth double-double of the season, the 22nd of her career, after finishing with 14 points and 12 rebounds at Cal State Fullerton. She also finished with a team-high 17 points in the win over CSU Bakersfield. The Santa Ana, Calif., native enters Saturday's game averaging 14.1 points and 8.4 rebounds per game, figures that rank fourth and second, respectively, among all Big West Conference players. The nine season double-doubles rank tied for 24th among all NCAA Division I players. She also leads all league players in blocks per game (1.6) and has a total of 33 on the season, including a career-high five rejections against Cal Poly. With 136 career blocks, Erving is tied for the school record with Cyrstal Hahs. 

Mighty Sharpe

Freshman Janae Sharpe tied a career high with 19 points in the Matadors' double-overtime loss to UC Santa Barbara. She hit 11-of-14 free throws against the Gauchos, which also set a new season high. Sharpe had a strong start to her Big West career, averaging 12.2 points and earning the league's Player of the Week after helping lead the Matadors to a pair of wins during the opening weekend of Big West play. Against UC Irvine, she scored a season-high 19 points and had a season-high seven steals. Two days later, Sharpe added 15 points, seven rebounds and three assists as the Matadors defeated UC Riverside. For the season, Sharpe is averaging 10.7 points per game, the second-best figure on the team and 11th among all Big West players. She is also averaging 4.5 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 2.2 steals (third in the league) per game and has scored in double-figures 11 times this season.

Do or Duarte

Freshman Jessica Duarte has repeatedly come up with big shots during her rookie season. She hit two key 3-pointers in the Matadors' road win at Cal State Fullerton and also has had memorable buckets against Pepperdine, West Virginia and UC Santa Barbara. Duarte finished with a season-high 19 points and grabbed a season-high eight rebounds in the Matadors' victory over UC Riverside on Dec. 31. The rookie scored from all parts of the floor and also connected on a season-high seven free throws in the contest. Since making her debut against Colgate, Duarte is averaging 7.2 points and has hit 18 3-pointers. She has also reached 11 points twice this year, against the Waves and in CSUN's win over San Jose State. 

Roses are Blue, Violets are Matador Red

Junior Violet Alama continues to bring a strong presence off the bench for the Matadors. At UC Davis, Alama posted a season-high 19 points and 10 rebounds for her second double-double of the season. She also had a career-high five steals against the Aggies in 30 minutes. In the Matadors' win at Long Beach State, Alama posted a game-high 11 rebounds to go with six points in 20 minutes. She had nine points and a game-high 11 rebounds as the Matadors defeated UC Riverside. At Portland, she finished with 11 points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals in 19 minutes. Through 21 games, Alama is averaging 8.0 points and 6.6 rebounds, the 9th-best average in the Big West. She recorded her sixth career double-double in the Matadors' victory at San Francisco, finishing with 15 points and 10 rebounds in the victory. Then in CSUN's win at LMU, she added 14 points, including two 3-pointers, and eight rebounds. 

Haley's Comet

Sophomore Haley White had her most productive game of the season in the Matadors' win at Pacific. She finished with a season-high 12 points, six field goals and seven rebounds in 31 minutes. White also added a career-high three blocked shots against the Tigers. For the season, White is averaging 3.6 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game. In Big West play, her averages jump to 6.7 points and 3.3 rebounds per game. 

Mahl-Knechting the Dots

Freshman Camille Mahlknecht scored 11 points and collected five rebounds with two blocked shots off the bench for CSUN in the win at Long Beach State. Mahlknecht had a season-high five blocked shots in the Matadors' victory over UC Irvine. She also brought down a season-high 13 rebounds in the Matadors' win over San Jose State and added 12 points against Fresno State. For the season, the Agoura, Calif., native is averaging 4.6 points and 3.7 rebounds per game. She now has 23 blocks on the year, a 1.4 per game average that ranks tied for first in the Big West Conference. Offensively, Mahlknecht has three double-figure scoring performances on the season, including a season-high 14 points and seven field goals at Oregon State. 

I'm Sorry Ms. Jackson

Junior Jianni Jackson had easily her best game in a Northridge uniform in the Matadors' comeback win over Pacific. In 19 minutes off the bench, Jackson finished with a career-high 14 points, four field goals, five free throws and seven rebounds as CSUN erased a 13-point halftime deficit. For the season, Jackson is averaging 2.5 points and 2.0 rebounds.

Conference and National Notes

Through 21 games this season, the Matadors find themselves with some pretty impressive stats. Defensively, the Matadors are second in the conference in field goal percentage defense (.367) and first in 3-point field goal percentage defense (.287). Northridge also leads the league and ranks 45th in the nation with an average of 10.8 steals per game. Finally, the Matadors lead the conference and rank 56th in the nation with an average of 4.6 blocks per game. On offense, CSUN ranks fourth in the Big West and 58th in the nation with a team free throw percentage of .724 (343-474). Individually, freshman Ashlee Guay is second in the league and ranks 19th among all Division I players with an average of 3.2 steals per game. With nine double-doubles, Jasmine Erving is tied for 24th in the nation among all Division I players. She has 22 double-doubles in her career. 

Already a Season of Firsts

Northridge has already accomplished several notable feats through 21 games of the 2011-12 season. The Matadors' home victories over UC Irvine and UC Riverside and the road win at Long Beach State were their first since the 2006-07 season. CSUN's 30-point victory over San Jose State was the program's largest victory in over 11 years. Northridge defeated West Virginia in the championship game of the Thanksgiving Basketball Classic, the program's first win ever over a BIG EAST program. With four wins in November, the Matadors won their most games in the season's opening month since the 1998-99 season. The Matadors' win over Colgate in the Thanksgiving Basketball Classic was also the first time CSUN has won its home opener since the 2004-05 season. The Matadors' victory over San Francisco on Nov. 11 was the program's first ever against the Dons and head coach Jason Flowers' first career non-conference win. The win also marked the first time Northridge won a season opener since the 2004-05 season. CSUN's win against LMU was the program's first since 1997 and the first win at LMU since 1990. 

Scouting UC Riverside

UC Riverside enters Thursday's contest with CSUN at 4-16 overall and 2-6 in Big West play this season. Last week, the Highlanders picked up a 70-67 victory over UC Irvine. The Highlanders are led by Tre'Shonti Nottingham, who averages 15.2 points, 5.1 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 3.3 steals per game. Natasha Hadley is also scoring in double-figures, averaging 12.6 points to along with 5.4 rebounds per game. As a team, UCR shoots 37.9 percent from the field, 30.2 percent from 3-point range and 72.8 percent from the free throw line. CSUN won the first meeting between the two schools earlier this year as Jessica Duarte finished with a season-high 19 points and eight rebounds in the eight-point win.

Scouting UC Irvine

UC Irvine enters the week with a 9-12 overall record and a 5-3 mark in league play. The Anteaters will host Long Beach State on Thursday, Feb. 2 before facing the Matadors on Saturday, Feb. 4. Kassandra McCallister leads the Anteaters in scoring at 11.7 points per game and leads the Big West Conference with 89 assists. Anete Klintsone is averaging 9.5 points and 4.5 rebounds per game while Jacquelyn Marshall posts 8.7 points and 4.0 rebounds per game. As a team, UCI is shooting 40.6 percent from the field, 28.7 percent from 3-point range and 64.0 percent from the free throw line. Northridge picked up a 55-49 victory over UC Irvine in the league opener on Dec. 29, 2011 as freshman Janae Sharpe put up a season-high 19 points for CSUN. 

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