Matadors sink deep at UCLA

Michael Harrington

Just four days before, it looked the Cal State Northridge women’s basketball team was coming together. It looked like the Matadors would win their first game of the year. They led midway through the second half, but eventually fell 73-65 to Jackson State on Nov. 26.

It was the slimmest margin of defeat they have had this year. However, just four days later, they suffered their worst loss of the season.

The UCLA Bruins dismantled CSUN (0-7) Sunday, winning 96-53 at Pauley Pavilion. Freshman Jasmine Erving set Matador season highs in points and rebounds, as she dropped in 23 and grabbed 13 boards in the loss.

The Bruins were led in scoring by junior guard Erica Tukiainen, who put in a career high 16 points on 7-of-13 shooting. She scored seven of UCLA’s first nine points as the Bruins took an early 9-0 lead.

Tukiainen was joined by three other Bruins in double-digit scoring. Nina Earl had 14, Chinyere Ibekwe had 13, and Christina Nzekwe had a career-high 11. ‘ Sophomore Doreen Campbell and senior Tierra Henderson each had five assists for UCLA, which had all 12 players get into the scoring column.

Besides Erving, Whitney Ligon was the only other Matador in double-digit scoring. She had 11 points on 3-of-10 shooting. Erving shot 50 percent from the floor (8-of-16) while the Matadors as a team shot 32 percent (19-of-59). They have played a lot better in the second half than the first all season long, but Sunday they shot poorly to finish the game. They went just 7-of-27 in the second period, after shooting 12-of-32 in the first.

Despite going down by nine points early, CSUN was only down by three with 10 minutes to play in the first half. A 17-2 run by the Bruins helped put UCLA up big at halftime, where it led 50-26.

The Bruins then sailed in the second half as the Matadors didn’t put any pressure on them. With seven minutes left in the game, UCLA led 70-44.

The Bruins finished the contest on a 26-9 run to give them their largest margin of victory in six years. For CSUN, the 43-point defeat was its largest since last season when Cal State Bakersfield doubled up the Matadors 88-44.

CSUN is now 0-9 against UCLA all-time, but Sunday’s loss was not the worst the Matadors have faced against the Bruins. They lost by 60 points in 1991 and by 53 points in 1975.

Erving scored 12 of her 21 points in the first half, where she had six of her eight field goals. She was in control offensively in the paint, as six of her eight makes came on layups. Her double-double was the first in her career.

CSUN sophomore Analee Viena-Lota still leads the team in scoring, but her production has dropped off since earlier in the year. She scored just four points Sunday on 1-of-8 shooting. Tonicia Tademy and Ashley Blake each had four assists. Tademy leads the squad in assists with just under five a game.

One plus for the Matadors was their free throw shooting. They were 13-of-16 from the charity stripe, but still gave up too many opportunities to the Bruins, who were 25-of-39. The coaching staff has been worried about their fouling problem all season long, and this type of game is the epitome of their issues.

There was a big margin in points off turnovers and second-chance points. The Bruins won both battles, 39-8 and 27-4 respectively. UCLA grabbed 54 rebounds, 26 on the offensive end while the Matadors had a total of 36.

Northridge turned the ball over a season-high 32 times, including 17 in the first half. The 22 steals that the Bruins racked up was a new season-high for them.

CSUN will return home after its three-game road swing this weekend. The Matadors will have had a full week off to prepare before they take the court on Sunday to host the San Jose State Spartans at The Matadome. The game will start at 2 p.m.