Northridge Hits the Road for Big West Contests at Long Beach State, UC Santa Barbara

Jan. 27, 2010

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -

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Matadors Travel to face 49ers and Gauchos in Road Tests

For the final weekend of the first half of the league schedule, the Cal State Northridge women's basketball team (3-13, 1-5) head to Long Beach State and UC Santa Barbara in a pair of road contests. Northridge stands in a tie with Pacific for the eighth and final spot in the Big West Tournament. However, the Matadors must finish with more wins than the Tigers due to Pacific's 76-70 overtime victory on Jan. 2.

Northridge lost its only game last week, falling 73-60 to Cal Poly. Bridgette Conejo led CSUN with 15 points and seven rebounds and now averages a team-high 6.0 rpg. Setting new season highs with four blocks and six points, Violet Alama provided energy and hustle off the bench. Jasmine Erving and Analee Viena-Lota added 10 points each for the Matadors and Janelle Nomura tied a season high with seven assists.

A high priority heading into the season, Northridge has shown an improved ability to rebound the ball in 2009-10, especially since the start of Big West play. Northridge ranks third in the league in rebounding offense at 38.8 per game, a figure that rises to a league-best 42.3 in its six Big West games. However, the Matadors do rank eighth overall and last in league play in rebounding defense, giving up 41.4 and 45.2 per game, respectively.

The high rebounding numbers may be attributed to an also-improved defense for CSUN. The Matadors lead the Big West in field-goal percentage defense (36.2 percent) and 3-point defense (24.6 percent) in conference play. Those figures have helped Northridge rank third in the league and 186th in the nation in total field-goal percentage defense at 39.7 percent.

This week, Northridge faces two tough road tests, beginning at Long Beach State. The 49ers have made a league-high 126 3-pointers on the season. Saturday, Northridge battles at UCSB, a squad that is second in the league in scoring defense.

Matadors On the Airwaves

All Matador women's basketball games are broadcast on GoMatadors.com and hosted by IBSU.net. Dave Caldwell is in his second season as the play-by-play voice of the Matadors. All Big West Conference games are also streamed live on BigWest.TV for a determined fee.

Scouting Long Beach State

The Matadors' first opponent of the week is the Long Beach State 49ers, who enter the contest with a 7-12 overall record and a 3-3 mark in league play. Last week, Long Beach State dropped both of its games, falling 68-61 at UC Irvine and 72-68 against Cal State Bakersfield.

One of the league's most versatile players, Karina Figueroa comes into the contest averaging 17.3 points, 4.7 rebounds and a league-high 5.8 assists. She is a 40 percent shooter from the field and an 81 percent free throw shooter. She also leads LBSU in steals with 32 on the season.

Two other 49ers are scoring in double-figures, with Lauren Sims and Ally Wade averaging 12.4 and 10.6 points, respectively. Sims is the team's top 3-point shooter, having hit 44-of-101 attempts on the year. She is also a 96 percent free throw shooter, the league's best percentage. Wade leads the team in rebounding, averaging 6.4 boards.

As a team, Long Beach State shoots 41.6 percent from the field and 36 percent from 3-point range. The 49ers average 36.3 rebounds and 13.6 assists per contest. However, they allow opponents 39.7 rebounds and turn the ball over an average of 17.4 times per game.

Jody Wynn is in her first season as the head coach of Long Beach State. The 49ers own a 29-11 record in the all-time series with CSUN after splitting the two contests last year. CSUN pulled out an 88-84 overtime decision at The Matadome before falling 63-50 in Long Beach. In fact, Northridge has won four of the last six games played at The Walter Pyramid.

Scouting UC Santa Barbara

The preseason favorite to win the Big West, UC Santa Barbara and Northridge meet at The Thunderdome on Saturday at 2 p.m. The Gauchos, who enter the week at 6-12 overall and 3-3 in the Big West, travel to Cal Poly on Thursday for a 7 p.m. game.

The Gauchos feature three players scoring in double-figures, led by Emilie Johnson's 12.6 ppg. She is the team's top 3-point shooter, having hit 32 treys on the season. She also leads the team with an 84.3 free throw percentage. Mekia Valentine is averaging 12.5 points and 7.2 rebounds on the season and is the league's top shot blocker, having rejected 67 on the season. Meagan Williams is averaging 10.2 points and 4.1 rebounds on the year and also has 22 blocks and 27 steals on the year.

As a team, UCSB is shooting 41.4 percent from the field and 24.1 percent from 3-point range for the season. The Gauchos average 39.2 rebounds and 12 assists per game, but also turn the ball over an average of 21 times per contests. Despite averaging a league-low 56.8 points per game, UCSB is holding opponents to just 62.9 ppg, the second-best scoring defense in the league.

The 2008-09 Big West Coach of the Year, Lindsay Gottlieb is in her second year as the head coach of UC Santa Barbara. The Gauchos own a 32-11 record in the all-time series with CSUN, having won the past five contests in the series. Before a 66-64 Northridge victory on Jan. 25, 2007 at The Thunderdome, the Matadors had lost 17 straight to UC Santa Barbara. CSUN has not defeated UCSB at The Matadome since a 65-61 decision on Dec. 1, 1984.

Bombs Away

Despite not hitting a single trey against Cal Poly, the Matadors enter the week ranked second in the league and 38th in the nation in 3-point percentage at 36.2 percent. Katrina Thompson leads the Big West at at an even 50 percent, having hit 17-of-34 attempts. That mark ranks among the top percentages in school history for a single year and has vaulted Thompson into the career percentage ranks in school history. Bridgette Conejo has also hit 17 treys on the year, including tying a school record with seven 3-pointers against Prairie View A&M.

Stay Off the Train Tracks

In her final season with the Matadors, senior Katrina Thompson is now averaging a career-high 9.8 points and 5.6 rebounds after a nine point, seven rebound performance against Cal Poly. She recorded her fifth career double-double in the Matadors' victory over Cal State Fullerton, finishing with a season-high 17 points and 14 rebounds. Thompson has added a lethal 3-point shot this year, leading the Big West with a 50 percent rate (17-of-34). She entered the year having hit only one career 3-pointer. Against Big West foes, Thompson is averaging 12.2 points and 7.5 rebounds.

CSUN's Own Dr. J

Sophomore Jasmine Erving recorded the 22nd double-figure game of her career with 10 points against Cal Poly, giving her a season average of 13.4 ppg, the fifth-highest average in the league. She also stands at 10th in the Big West at 5.7 rebounds per game. With 23 blocks on the season, Erving ranks second in the conference and 85th in the nation at 1.5 bpg and eighth in school history with 57 career rejections.

Conejo Brings More than Lucky Feet to CSUN

Sophomore Bridgette Conejo s had a team-high 15 points and seven rebounds vs. Cal Poly, raising her season averages to a career-high 12.1 points and a team-high 6.0 rebounds. She now ranks seventh in the league in rebounding and 13th in scoring for the season. She added 12 points in the Matadors' victory over Cal State Fullerton and has led the Matadors in scoring on six different occasions. She tied a school record when she hit seven 3-pointers in the Matadors' contest against Prairie View A&M.

CSUN's Flyin Hawaiian

Freshman Janelle Nomura tied a season high with seven assists against Cal Poly, raising her season average to 3.2 per game, the sixth-best average in the league. For the year, Nomura is also averaging 8.5 points and 3.7 rebounds. . She also leads the team at the free throw line in attempts (79), free throws made (61) and percentage (.772), which is the eighth-best rate in the league.

Roses are Blue, Violets are Red...

Freshman Violet Alama had a season-high six points and four blocks in the game against Cal Poly. For the year, the freshman from Honolulu is averaging 4.8 rpg and ranks fourth on the team with 76 rebounds for the season. She now also has 20 blocked shots on the season to rank third in the league at 1.3 per game.

Matadors vs. Long Beach State

The 49ers own a 29-11 record in the all-time series with CSUN after splitting the two contests last year. CSUN pulled out an 88-84 overtime decision at The Matadome before falling 63-50 in Long Beach. In fact, Northridge has won four of the last six games played at The Walter Pyramid.

Matadors vs. UC Santa Barbara

The Gauchos own a 32-11 record in the all-time series with CSUN, having won the past five contests in the series. Before a 66-64 Northridge victory on Jan. 25, 2007 at The Thunderdome, the Matadors had lost 17 straight to UC Santa Barbara. CSUN has not defeated UCSB at The Matadome since a 65-61 decision on Dec. 1, 1984.

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