Matadors Open Home League Schedule with UC Riverside, Long Beach State

Jan. 12, 2009

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -

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The Cal State Northridge women's basketball team (3-12, 0-2 BWC) returns to the friendly confines of The Matadome this week for a pair of Big West Conference games. On Wednesday, the Matadors host preseason favorite UC Riverside for a 7 p.m. contest, then face Long Beach State on Saturday at 4 p.m.

For Northridge, the game against the Highlanders closes out their second nine-day layoff of the season. Despite dropping both games on their league-opening road trip, CSUN remains confident playing at home where they stand at 3-2 for the season.

A particularly bright spot for Northridge this season has been the play of senior Tonicia Tademy. After leading the league in assists last season, Tademy has reassumed her perch atop the league standings with an average of 5.9 assists-per-game. That mark ranks 14th among all Division I players and her 11-assist performance against Columbia on Dec. 28 is tied for the 13th-best performance in a single game during the 2008-09 season.

Additionally, Tademy is shooting over 100 points higher from the field this season compared to her junior campaign (.350 vs. .244) and she is averaging 6.4 points and 4.2 rebounds per game. She also ranks second in the Big West Conference in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.33) and sixth in steals-per-game with an average of 1.8.

Joining Tademy in the backcourt this season has been senior Ashley Blake. The senior is currently averaging a career-high 8.5 points-per-game. She scored a team-high 19 at UC Davis, one shy of her career high, which she set earlier this season at UNLV on Dec. 19. She leads the team with 23 3-pointers for the season and is also leading the team with a 1.48 assist-to-turnover ratio.

Finally, a third senior guard continues to lead Northridge in scoring, as Whitney Ligon is averaging 10.7 points-per-game. Since arriving at Northridge before last season, Ligon has already amassed 21 double-figure games and is ranked sixth in the Big West Conference with a .769 percentage from the free throw line.

Up front, junior Katrina Thompson, sophomore Analee Viena-Lota and freshman Jasmine Erving continue to pace the Matadors. Thompson enters the week third in the league with an average of 2.1 steals per game. She is also averaging a career-high 5.0 points and 5.1 rebounds per game.

Viena-Lota has already posted a pair of double-doubles this season and is leading the team with an average of 5.3 rebounds-per-game. She is also averaging a career-high 7.0 points-per-game. Erving is putting up 8.4 points and 4.9 rebounds per game for head coach Staci Schulz in her rookie season and is currently third in the league with an average of 1.3 blocks per game.

As a team, Northridge is shooting 35.9 percent from the field and averaging 34.8 rebounds per game. Paced by their backcourt, the Matadors rank second in the league in team assists (209), third in team steals (142) and third in assist-to-turnover ratio (0.74).

The preseason favorite to win the Big West Conference, UC Riverside travels to The Matadome Wednesday for Northridge's league home opener. The Highlanders currently stand in second place with a 3-1 record in the conference, having defeated UC Davis and Pacific last weekend at home.

Kemie Nkele, a Preseason All-Big West selection, leads the team with an average of 15.7 points-per-game, but is averaging only 9.3 per contest in the four league games. She is also the team's top rebounder, pulling down 8.1 rebounds per game. Seyram Gbewonyo is the other Highlander averaging in double-figures, standing at 10.3 ppg. Chanel Foster leads the team in assists with 46 for the season, an average of 2.9 per game.

John Margaritis is in his fifth year as the head coach at UC Riverside, having amassed a 184-144 record since taking over the position. Although CSUN leads the all-time series between the schools, 22-20, Riverside has won the past three, including a 71-51 victory in their last match-up.

In their second game of the week, Northridge welcomes Long Beach State to The Matadome for a 4 p.m. contest on Saturday. The 49ers dropped a pair of home decisions last week, falling to Pacific and UC Davis at The Pyramid. The 49ers are currently on a five-game losing streak and have lost eight of their last nine games.

Whitney Fields leads the team with an average of 11.9 points and 7.9 rebounds per game. She is shooting 41.3 percent from the field for the season. Courtney Jacob is the other 49er in double-figures at 10.9 ppg and she is tied for the team lead with Adelle Walton with 40 assists for the season. LBSU is shooting 36.6 percent from the field as a team this season.

Mary Hegarty is in her sixth season as the head coach at LBSU, having compiled a 72-90 record since joining the program. LBSU holds a sizeable advantage in the all-time series, 28-10, including a narrow 49-48 victory at The Matadome on Feb. 23, 2008.

Following the games against UCR and LBSU, the Matadors head back out on the road next week. They face Cal State Fullerton on Jan. 21 (7 p.m.) and travel to UC Irvine on Jan. 24 (4 p.m.).

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