Northridge Outlasts West Virginia to Claim Thanksgiving Classic Championship


Sophomore Kaitlyn Petersen led the Matadors with 17 points, including a perfect 10-for-10 from the free throw line, as the Cal State Northridge women's basketball team (4-2) defeated the West Virginia Mountaineers (3-2) 48-47 in the championship game of the Holiday Inn Woodland Hills Thanksgiving Basketball Classic 2011. The victory for the Matadors was the first over a Big East program in school history.

The game featured a defensive battle from the beginning as both teams had trouble converting shots. Northridge shot 28.1% (16-for-57) from the field while holding West Virginia to 27.9% (17-for-61). Petersen was able to keep the Matadors in the game in the first half by scoring the first 13 points of the night for Northridge and her first field goal came when her three-pointer gave CSUN a 7-6 lead with 12:14 to go before halftime.

Northridge led by as many as five points in the first half and the Mountaineers led at one point by four, but the two squads remained locked in a 23-23 tie at the break. Petersen had 13 of her team-high 17 points in the first half and freshman guard Ashlee Guay added two points, four rebounds and three steals by halftime.

The teams traded back-and-forth baskets in the second half as neither could break open a lead of more than three points until the final two minutes of action. Following a free throw by West Virginia's Ayana Dunning to give the Mountaineers a 44-43 lead with 2:37 remaining in regulation, Northridge's Jasmine Erving knocked down her second three pointer of the season to put the Matadors ahead by two.

Another Northridge stop on defense led to a layup for Janae Sharpe to go ahead 48-44 with 1:44 to play. West Virginia cut the deficit to one point following a three pointer by Taylor Palmer, who finished with a game-high 18 points on the night.

After a Northridge timeout the Matadors committed a turnover but a missed jumper the other way by Palmer was rebounded by Petersen for Northridge with 39 seconds remaining. The Mountaineers made yet another defensive stop and tried to score in transition with under 10 seconds left, but a missed three pointer gave Northridge the ball with 0.2 seconds to go.

Northridge could not get the ball in, however, which left a final opportunity for West Virginia to steal the game and the tournament crown. Despite a well-drawn play, the Mountaineers could not get a shot off and Northridge came out with their fourth win of the season. The Matadors have now won four games in the month of November for the first time since the 1998-99 season.

Erving finished the night with a double-double (10 points, 13 rebounds) and added three blocks to be named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player. Erving now owns second place in school history with 112 career blocks. Petersen (17 points, six rebounds) was also named to the All-Tournament Team.

CSUN resumes play on Thursday, Dec. 1 with a home contest against Santa Clara. Tip off between the Matadors and Broncos from The Matadome is slated for 7 p.m. All fans bringing a canned food donation will receive free admission to the contest. 

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