Matadors Welcome UCLA, Rice In Midweek Action

Matadors Welcome UCLA, Rice In Midweek Action
This Week's Matador Women's Basketball Release

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - The Cal State Northridge women's basketball team (0-2) hosts UCLA (0-0) Wednesday in its 2007-08 home opener and welcomes Confernce USA opponent Rice (3-0) to The Matadome Friday in non-conference action this week. The Matadors will look for their first win ever against their cross-town rival, as UCLA as won the previous seven matchups against Northridge.

UCLA returns seven letterwinners and three starters from last year's squad that recorded a 14-18 overall record and 7-11 finish in the Pac 10 Conference, which was good for seventh place. Senior Lindsey Pluimer is UCLA's top returning scorer, as she averaged 15.5 points and 5.7 rebounds per game last season. Chinyere Ibekwe and Tierra Henderson are the other two returning starters for the Bruins and averaged 7.7 points and 6.6 rebounds and 5.1 points and 3.6 rebounds, respectively.

The Bruins won both their exhibition contests, defeating Team Concept 94-82, and Love and Basketball, 90-41. Against Team Concept, sophomore guard Erica Tukiainen led four Bruins in double figures with a 19-point, seven-rebound effort while Tukiainen and Pluimer combined for 33 points on 13-of-21 shooting in the win over Love and Basketball. Kathy Olivier enters her 15th year at the helm of the program, posting a 216-191 record in her three seasons.

Rice (3-0) enters Friday's contest fresh off a victory in the Winthrop Adidas Classic. In the tournament, the Owls defeated Navy, North Texas and host Winthrop to take the tournament title. Greg Williams is in his third season with the Owls, posting a record of 40-28 with Rice and an overall record of 241-167 in 15+ seasons.

For her efforts, senior Valeriya Berezhynska was picked as Conference USA Player of the Week Monday afternoon. Berezhynska headlined the Owls to a 3-0 weekend and the Winthrop Adidas Classic crown after averaging 26.5 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. She earned Tournament MVP honors, shooting 54.5 percent from the floor in addition to a 72.7 clip from the foul line.

The Matadors and Owls have met just once in their history, a 72-63 Rice victory on Dec, 18, 1992.

In action last week, the Matadors dropped both of their games, falling at Pepperdine, 70-38, and at San Diego, 79-50. Despite forcing 24 turnovers against the Waves, the Matadors were unable to prevail. Junior Crystal Hahs led the Matadors with eight points and six rebounds.

The Matadors trailed 37-19 at halftime after Pepperdine jumped out to a 21-6 lead to start the game. Northridge struggled with its shooting, hitting just 8-of-30 shots (26.7 percent) in the stanza.

The Waves opened the second half on a 12-2 run to extend the lead to 49-21 with 14:33 remaining in the game. The struggles from the field continued after halftime, as the Matadors shot just 7-of-28 (25 percent) in the second half and 15-of-58 for the game (25.9 percent).

Northridge converted the 24 Pepperdine turnovers into 15 points and got 12 points from its bench. The Waves out-rebounded the Matdors, 49-34, though Norhtridge recorded 15 offensive rebounds to the Waves' 12.

Against the Toreros, Hahs was once again the story for Northridge, playing a career-high 40 minutes for the Matadors, finishing with 12 points and 12 rebounds, the first double-double of her career, and sophomore Morgan Pryor finished with a team-high 21 points.

In addition to her work on the glass, Hahs finished with three assists, four blocks and her six field goals set a new career high. The Matadors also found some timely outside shooting from Pryor, who knocked down a career-high four 3-pointers.

In the first start of her Matador career, freshman Bianca Davies added 9 points and two rebounds for Northridge. Junior Tonicia Tademy finished with seven rebounds and three assists off the bench for Northridge.

San Diego took a 42-23 lead into the locker rooms at halftime. The Toreros jumped out to a 15-4 lead to start the game before Northridge went on a 10-2 run highlighted by a pair of 3-pointers from sophomore Morgan Pryor.

San Diego employed a 2-3 zone defense throughout the game that limited Northridge's ability to get to the free-throw line, where San Diego had 36 attempts to the Matadors' 12.

The Matadors head back out on the road following the games against UCLA and Rice, venturing to the City of Roses over the Thanksgiving Holiday weekend to face Portand State on Nov. 23 and Portland on Nov. 25. The game against the Vikings will tip off at 7 p.m. while the Matadors and Pilots will duel in an afternoon affair at 2 p.m.

Fans can hear all of the action on with Sam Farber giving detailed play-by-play of every Northridge game.

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