December 21, 2008

Matadors Host Eastern Washington, Columbia at The Matadome for Holiday Hoops

Dec. 21, 2008

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -

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The Cal State Northridge women's basketball team (1-10) hosts Eastern Washington and Columbia in a pair of contests to close out the non-conference portion of its 2008-09 schedule. The Matadors and Eagles, perennial rivals from their time in the Big Sky Conference, revive their series on Dec. 22 at 5 p.m., while the Lions visit The Matadome on Dec. 22 at 2 p.m.

Fans bringing canned food and non-perishable items or a new toy to Monday night's game against Eastern Washington will be admitted free to the game. The donations will benefit those affected by the recent Sylmar fires. Additionally, fans will be treated to free admission to game on Dec. 28 against Columbia.

Northridge enters the week having played well at The Desert Draw in Las Vegas, Nev. Despite falling in both games, the Matadors showed sustained offense and nearly upset a Southern Mississippi team that won 20 games a year ago. A trio of senior guards performed well for the team, bolstering its confidence entering the holiday week.

In her return home, senior Ashley Blake delighted the crowd by scoring a career-high 20 points against UNLV on Dec. 19. The Las Vegas native also had a career high eight field goals and tied a career mark with four 3-pointers. She is averaging 7.8 points, 2.9 assists and 2.5 rebounds per game, all of which are new career bests.

Another senior guard, Whitney Ligon, performed well for the Matadors amidst the din of Sin City. Ligon scored a season-high 19 against UNLV and followed that up with a 16-point performance against the Lady Eagles. She leads the team at 9.4 ppg and with a 78 percent rate from the free throw line (32-of-41).

Finally, Tonicia Tademy had 17 assists in the two games, including a season-high nine assists against the Rebels on Dec. 19. The senior is now leading the Big West Conference with an average of 5.4 assists-per-game and is also putting up 5.7 points and 4.3 rebounds per game.

In addition to the perimeter play of the guards, head coach Staci Schulz saw several impressive performances on the interior. Freshman Jasmine Erving set a new season high with 26 points and 12 field goals against Southern Mississippi. She had 22 points at halftime and also added a team-high eight rebounds. She is now averaging 9.1 points and 4.9 rebounds per game.

Junior Katrina Thompson also set a new series of season highs over the weekend. She had 11 rebounds against UNLV, her second double-figure career rebounding game, and followed that up with 10 points against Southern Mississippi. She is second on the team by shooting 48.8 percent (20-of-41) from the field, trailing on Erving (39-of-78), who sits at 50 percent.

The Matadors are shooting 35.7 percent from the field and are averaging 35.1 rebounds per game. Their opponents are shooting 43.8 percent from the field with an average of 45.7 rebounds.

The Eagles of Eastern Washington challenge Northridge on Dec. 22 at 5 p.m. in The Matadome. A familiar face to CSUN, the Eagles and Matadors perennially battled when both were members of the Big Sky Conference. Northridge owns a 9-3 record in the all-time series between the schools, though EWU won the last meeting, 69-61, on Nov. 30, 2005.

The Eagles enter Monday's contest having dropped three of their last four, including a 71-62 decision to Cal Poly on Dec. 20. Julie Piper, Brianne Ryan and Tatjana Sparavalo all had 10 points against the Mustangs, while Piper led the team with nine rebounds. They did beat Pacific, 63-58, in Cheney on Dec. 13.

Kyla Evans leads the team with 11.3 points-per-game and Piper is also averaging in double-figures at 10.5 points. Nicole Scott leads the team in rebounding at 6.5 per game and Jessica Huntington is the leading distributor with 41 assists, an average of 3.7 per game.

One of America's oldest universities visits Northridge for the first time when Columbia plays at The Matadome on Dec. 28 at 2 p.m. The Lions have also have a game on Dec. 22, hosting North Carolina State at Levien Gym. In their last game, Columbia defeated Denver, 67-56, on Dec. 6.

Judie Lomax leads the team with an average of 11.5 points-per-game as of Dec. 21. She is also averaging 13.1 rebounds-per-game having recorded three double-double and a season-high 19 rebounds in separate contests. Danielle Brown is posting 9.4 points per game and leads Columbia with 30 assists, an average of 3.8 per game.

Paul Nixon is in his fourth season as the head coach of Columbia, having led them to its most successful Ivy League campaign in program history last season. The Lions finished 7-7 in 2007-08 in league play, their best record since joining the Ivy League in 1986-87.

Following the game against the Lions, the Matadors open Big West Conference play on the road, traveling to Pacific and UC Davis. The Matadors play Pacific on Jan. 2 at 7 p.m., and then face the Aggies on Jan. 4 for a 2 p.m. game.