Matadors Head to Eastern Washington, Gonzaga for Non-Conference Contests

Dec. 2, 2009

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -

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Northridge Looking to Pick Up Second Road Win of Year in Trip Before Finals

The Cal State Northridge women's basketball team (1-4) takes a trip to the Pacific Northwest to face Eastern Washington and Gonzaga in a pair of non-conference games. The Matadors hope to rediscover the formula that helped them defeat San Jose State for their first win in November since 2005. Both Eastern Washington and Gonzaga present difficult challenges for a CSUN squad that has been severely affected by injuries, though the team is confident that the return of several players will make this a successful trip.

Northridge dropped both of its last two games by over 30 points, allowing opponents to shoot over 60 percent (26-of-43) from 3-point range. The Matadors and head coach Staci Schulz know they must improve their perimeter defense in order to be successful. For the season, opponents are shooting 49.4 percent from 3-point range.

One good sign thus far in the season is CSUN's ability to get to the free throw line. Northridge has already taken 109 free throws, an average of nearly 22 a game, this season after shooting 497, about 16 per contest, in 31 games last year.. Freshman Janelle Nomura has already connected on 27-of-35 attempts (.771) in her first five career games.

Eastern Washington enters Friday's contest with a 4-3 record after losing 87-61 to Gonzaga on Tuesday night. Julie Piper leads the Eagles at 10.1 ppg and three other players are averaging over 8 ppg. Last year, CSUN recorded a 54-47 victory over EWU at The Matadome on Dec. 22, 2008.

Gonzaga is on the Matadors' docket for Sunday, though the Bulldogs play twice before meeting the Matadors. At 5-2, Gonzaga has four players averaging in double-figures and has posted wins over USC and Washington. This will be the first meeting in the all-time series between the schools.

Matadors Among Big West Leaders

Through five games, CSUN finds itself among the conference leaders in several categories. As a team, Northridge leads the Big West in free throw percentage (.789, 86-of-109) and is second in the league in 3-point percentage (.351, 20-of-57). Individually, sophomore Jasmine Erving leads the conference in free throw percentage (.900, 18-of-20), third in scoring (17.5 ppg) and ninth in field goal percentage (.481, 26-of-54). Sophomore Bridgette Conejo ranks seventh in rebounding (6.3 rpg), eighth in scoring (13.5 ppg) and fourth in 3-point percentage (.474, 9-of-19). Freshman Janelle Nomura checks in at fourth in assists (3.4 apg) and ninth in free throw percentage (.771, 27-of-35).

CSUN's Very Own Dr. J

Sophomore Jasmine Erving continues to lead the Matadors in scoring, averaging 17.5 points-per-game, the third-highest average in the Big West Conference. She leads all league players in free throw percentage at .900, hitting 18-of-20 attempts so far this season. Erving also leads or is tied for the team lead in points (70) and blocks (6). She is shooting 48.1 percent from the field (26-of-54), the ninth-best figure in the conference.

CSUN's Flyin Hawaiian

Freshman Janelle Nomura has turned in an impressive freshman season thus far through five games. The rookie from Honolulu is averaging 11.4 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game while playing an average of 29.2 minutes per game. She leads the Matadors with 35 free throw attempts and ranks in the Big West Top 10 in free throw percentage (.771, ninth), assists (3.4, fourth) and in steals (2.0, fifth). Finally, despite her 5-4 frame, Nomura leads CSUN with 13 offensive rebounds.

Conejo Brings More than Lucky Feet to CSUN

Sophomore Bridgette Conejo has elevated her scoring prowess in her second season with the Matadors. She is now averaging 13.5 points, the eighth-most in the conference, and is shooting 47.4 percent from 3-point range, the fourth-best figure in the league. She is also averaging 2.0 steals to rank fifth in the league and 6.3 rebounds to rank seventh in the league.

Stay Off the Train Tracks

Senior Katrina Thompson continues to be the heart and soul of the Matadors in 2009-10, displaying a multi-talented arsenal that has her averaging 6.8 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.8 steals per game through five contests. She is 16-of-21 from the free throw line for the season, a 76.2 percent success rate.

First Things First

The Matadors' 62-61 victory at San Jose State was CSUN's first non-conference road win in November in their last 19 opportunities. In fact, the last November victory for the Matadors also came at the expense of the Spartans, a 66-63 decision on Nov. 17, 2005. CSUN is just 4-28 in November games since the start of the 2005-06 season.

Sayonara School Records

Just five games into the season, the Matadors have already seen several noteworthy individual performances that have made a mark in the school's record book. Janelle Nomura recorded the third-most free throw completions and attempts when she finished 14-of-17 from the charity stripe against New Mexico State.

Two days later, Bridgette Conejo tied a school record with seven 3-pointer against Prairie View A&M. The sophomore 7-of-10 from the field, tying the previous mark which had been set on three previous occasions. The seven 3-pointers helped Conejo set a new career high with 26 points.

Scouting Eastern Washington

Eastern Washington is the Matadors' first opponent this week, hosting CSUN at the Reese Court Friday night at 7 p.m. The Eagles are 4-3 on the season, having picked up wins over Portland, Idaho, Corban College and Memphis. They have picked up the four wins despite having only one player, Julie Piper at 10.1 ppg, averaging in double-figures. Nicole Scott, Tatjana Sparavalo and Jessica Huntington are all averaging over 8 ppg on the year as well.

As a team, Eastern Washington is shooting 36.2 percent from the field and 31.3 percent from 3-point range. The Eagles have limited opponents to a 31.1 percent success rate from 3-point territory and have forced 163 turnovers, an average of 23 per game. Last season, CSUN registered a 54-47 victory over Eastern Washington on Dec. 22, 2008. A look at the all-time series, which dates back to when Northridge was a part of the Big Sky Conference, shows the Matadors owning a 10-3 mark against the Eagles, having won two of the past three contests.

Scouting Gonzaga

On Dec. 6, Gonzaga and Northridge meet for the first time in school history when the Bulldogs host the Matadors at McCarthey Athletics Center. The Bulldogs play twice this week before facing CSUN, having defeated Eastern Washington, 87-61, on Dec. 1 before traveling to Montana State for a Dec. 4 game.

Gonzaga features an explosive offense that has four players averaging in double-figures, led by Heather Bowman's 15.9 ppg. Both Katelan Redmon and Kayla Standish have come off the bench in the majority of the Bulldogs' games to average 13.7 and 10.1 points, respectively. Finally, Courtney Vandersloot, the reining West Coast Conference Player of the Year, is averaging 12.1 points. The Bulldogs are averaging 44.6 rebounds a game and are shooting 44.7 percent from the field, though they have shot just 33.3 percent from 3-point range. The Bulldogs have also taken 18 fewer free throw attempts than their opponents because they have committed 10 more fouls than their opponents through six games.

Up Next for CSUN

The Matadors have a pair of home games during the Holiday Break. On Sunday Dec. 20, CSUN hosts Miami (OH) at 4 p.m. Nine days later, Northridge meets South Dakota at 7 p.m. in The Matadome.

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