January 25, 2011

Northridge Returns Home to Face UC Irvine, UC Santa Barbara in Big West Action

Jan. 25, 2011

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -

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Matadors To Play Seven of Their Final 11 Games at The Matadome

The Cal State Northridge women's basketball team (1-18, 1-5 Big West) opens a three-game homestand with a pair of Big West Conference contests. On Jan. 27, CSUN faces UC Irvine at 7 p.m., followed by a Jan. 29 contest against UC Santa Barbara at 4 p.m. The Matadors have a favorable stretch of their schedule ahead, as recent roadtrips have given way to seven of the final 11 games being played at The Matadome.

When the Matadors face the Anteaters Thursday night, it will mark just the third home game for CSUN since Dec. 9. Having played five of their six Big West games on the road thus far, Northridge will have plenty of opportunities to post their first home win of the season.

Two Matadors put themselves into the record books last week. Senior Analee Viena-Lota pulled down her 487th career rebound in the game at Cal Poly, moving into 10th in school history. Junior Jasmine Erving finished with nine field goals last week to give her 364 for her career, the eighth-most in school history. She also added two blocked shots at Cal Poly to give her 94 for her career, the fifth-most in school history.

UC Irvine enters Thursday's contest with an 11-7 overall record and a 3-3 mark in the Big West. Mikah Maly-Karros leads the Anteaters in scoring (19.2 ppg) and rebounding (10.3 rpg), averages that rank first among all Big West players. The Anteaters have won the past six meetings with the Matadors.

UC Santa Barbara brings a 10-8 overall record and a 4-2 mark in the Big West into its game Thursday with Cal Poly. Emilie Johnson is the only Gaucho currently averaging in double-figures, scoring 11.7 ppg. The Gauchos have won the past seven meetings with the Matadors and Northridge has not defeated UCSB at home since 1984.

Hawaiian Punch

Senior Analee Viena-Lota moved into 10th in school history with her 487th career rebound, a board she grabbed in the Matadors' loss at Cal Poly. She added a team-high 16 points against the Mustangs and is now averaging a career-high 8.1 ppg for the season. Viena-Lota is also averaging 5.3 rebounds and 1.5 assists for the year. Viena-Lota scored a season-high 18 points in the Matadors' overtime win at Pacific. Against the Tigers, she finished 6-of-11 from the field, knocked down two 3-pointers and was a perfect 4-of-4 at the free throw line. Viena-Lota has scored in double-figures 30 times and posted a double-double seven times in her career. She had a career-high 16 rebounds in the Matadors' loss to Oregon State, the third-most by an individual in the Big West this year.

CSUN's Own Dr. J

Junior Jasmine Erving also cracked the Matador career lists in two categories last week. She now stands at 364 career field goals, the eighth-most in school history, and 94 career blocked shots, the fifth-most in school history. For the season Erving is averaging a career-high 14.3 points and 7.2 rebounds for the season. At Cal State Fullerton, she finished with a career-high 34, the most by a Big West player this season, and 13 rebounds. In Big West games only, Erving ranks second in scoring (18.5 ppg) and third in rebounding (9.7 rpg). For the season, Erving leads the Matadors in scoring (14.3 ppg; 4th in Big West) and rebounding (7.2 rpg; 5th in Big West).

Conejo Brings Lucky Feet to CSUN

Junior Bridgette Conejo matched her season high with 13 points in the Matadors' loss at Cal Poly. In the Matadors' six Big West Conference games, Conejo is averaging 10.3 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. That rebounding rate ranks 13th among all Big West players in league action. For the season, Conejo is averaging 5.9 points and a career-high 5.1 rebounds. At Cal State Fullerton, she recorded the second double-double of her career, finishing with 13 points and 10 rebounds.

Roses are Blue, Violets are Matador Red

Sophomore Violet Alama had a season-high four blocked shots and three assists in the Matadors' loss at Cal Poly. For the season, she is averaging 11.4 ppg and 6.2 rpg. She ranks eighth in the Big West in free throw percentage (.780; 64-of-82), 15th in scoring and 10th in rebounding. Alama had the third double-double of her career in the Matadors' loss to Long Beach State, finishing with 20 points and 11 rebounds. She has led the Matadors in scoring, including a career-high 32 points against Eastern Michigan in her return home to Hawai'i, on five occasions and in rebounding four times.

Haley's Comet

Freshman Haley White checks in at fourth in the Big West Conference in assists, dishing out 64 dimes through her first 19 games for an average of 3.4 per contest. She had a season-high 10 assists to just one turnover in the Matadors' overtime win at Pacific. She also finds herself among the league leaders (ninth) with a team-high 29 steals, an average of 1.5 per game. For the season, White is also averaging 4.3 points and 2.7 rebounds. She has reached double-figures twice this season, scoring a season-high 13 points at then-No. 20 Iowa State.

Saving their Best for the Big West

Although CSUN currently finds itself at the bottom of the Big West standings, the last few weeks of the season may yet bring some of their best basketball. First, the schedule is especially kind to the Matadors, who have only played at home twice since Dec. 9. Northridge will close with seven of its final 11 games, including four of their last five league games, at The Matadome. Secondly, several statistics have registered the Matadors' improvement in Big West Conference action. The Matadors rank third in the Big West in field goal percentage defense (.406) through its first six league games. CSUN also ranks fourth in the conference in 3-point percentage defense (.323) in league games. Finally, the Matadors rank third in rebounding offense in league games, averaging just over 40 boards per game. In fact, they have out-rebounded four of their six Big West opponents.

Scouting UC Irvine

UC Irvine comes calling to The Matadome on Thursday, Jan. 27 for a 7 p.m. contest. The Anteaters dropped their last game, 80-79, at Long Beach State and have now lost three-straight games for the second time this season. Mikah Maly-Karros has made a strong case for the league's Player of the Year honors thus far, leading the Big West in scoring (19.2 ppg) and rebounding (10.3 rpg). Another key player to the UCI attack is senior guard Jade Smith-Williams, who comes in averaging 14.1 ppg and a league-best 4.0 assists per contest. As a team, UC Irvine is shooting 41.5 percent from the field, 34 percent from 3-point range and 72.3 percent from the free throw line. Northridge's last victory in the series came on Feb. 3, 2007, an 80-63 home victory.

Scouting UC Santa Barabra

After starting the year 0-4, UC Santa Barbara has won 10 of its past 14 and is 5-5 in away games this year. Emilie Johnson leads the team in scoring at 11.7 ppg and in assists at 3.2 per game. Mekia Valentine is averaging 9.7 points and 9.5 rebounds on the year and leads the Big West with 69 blocked shots. As a team, UCSB is shooting 42.6 percent from the field, 29.8 percent from 3-point range and 64.2 percent from the free throw line. The Gauchos have won 24 of their past 25 meetings with Matadors. CSUN's last home win in the series came on Dec. 1, 1984, a 65-61 victory.

Recapping Last Week

The Cal State Northridge women's basketball team lost 66-50 to San Diego and 82-52 to Cal Poly in action last week. Against the Toreros, Violet Alama scored a game-high 19 points and grabbed seven rebounds, but CSUN could not overcome a slow start to second half in the loss. The Toreros went on a 24-6 run in the first 10 minutes of the second half to take a 55-27 lead with 9:31 left in the game. CSUN made only one field goal in the first 12 minutes of the second half. Jasmine Erving finished with 17 points and eight rebounds for Northridge. At Cal Poly, Analee Viena-Lota scored 16 and Bridgette Conejo finished with 13, but the Matadors could not overcome a season-high 29 turnovers. For CSUN, the loss was cemented in a first half to forget. The Matadors turned the ball over 20 times in the first 20 minutes and shot 30.4 percent (7-of-23) from the field. Viena-Lota finished with 16 points and three rebounds. Conejo added 13 points, six rebounds and two assists for the Matadors. Erving finished with two blocks, giving her 94 for her career which is the fifth most in school history.

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