March 11, 2009
ANAHEIM, Calif. - Behind 21 points from Analee Viena-Lota and 18 from Katrina Thompson, the Cal State Northridge women's basketabll team (8-22) defeated UC Davis, 64-56, in the opening round of the Big West Tournament at the Anaheim Convention Center. CSUN used a full-court pressure defense throughout the contest, frustrating the Aggies and forcing 18 UCD turnovers.
Trailing 31-29 at halftime, Northridge came out firing in the second half. The Matadors built a three point lead with 14:59 left in the second half following a lay-up by Thompson.
The teams would trade leads and UCD held a 49-47 advantage with 4:06 left in the contest. However, Ashley Blake would knock down one of her two 3-pointers in the game on the ensuing possession to give Northridge a lead it would not relinquish.
The Aggies would make it interesting, cutting the lead to 59-56 with 37 seconds left to play. However, Viena-Lota, who connected on 7-of-8 free throws in the final two minutes of play, calmly knocked down her free throws to preserve the win.
Matador Head Coach Staci Schulz pointed to a tenacious defense in helping CSUN get the victory.
"I thought we did a fantastic job of extending our defense and playing at a tempo that benefited us," Schulz said. "We wanted to spend as much time as possible in our end of the court, whether on offense or defense, because we knew that to be successful, we could not defend the Princeton offense for 30 seconds."
Viena-Lota led all players and tied a career high with her 21 points, finishing 6-of-17 from the field. She was 8-of-10 from the free throw line and had five rebounds and two steals in 39 minutes of action.
Thompson tied a career high with 18 points and had six rebounds for Northridge. Whitney Ligon was the third Matador to reach double-figures, finishing with 13 points, including an 8-of-9 rate from the free throw line.
Thompson credited her teammates for helping her equal her career performance.
"I though out bench did a great job of keeping us motivated and that energy came through on the court," Thompson said. "Having just played them last week, we knew what we had to do and we executed our game plan from the opening tip-off."
Tonicia Tademy added a team-high seven rebounds and seven assists for CSUN and also had four steals while playing all 40 minutes. Bridgette Conejo came off the bench to score six points and grab seven rebounds.
Northridge shot 33.9 percent from the field for the game and 76 percent from the free throw line. The Matadors won the battle on the boards, out-rebounding UC Davis, 40-37. Of those 40 rebounds for CSUN, 16 came on the offensive glass.
CSUN forced 18 Aggie turnovers, converting the miscues into 17 points. Northridge also held a 20-18 advantage in points in the paint and finished with 13 second-chance points.
The game was tied six times with the lead changing hands on nine different occasions. Paige Mintun had 13 points and 12 rebounds for UC Davis, though she failed to score in the second half. Lauren Juric led UCD with 14 points.
With the win, Northridge advances to face third-seeded Cal Poly Thursday for a noon contest. The Mustangs took both meetings with Northridge this season, including a 70-60 decision on Feb. 26.