W-Bball Notebook: Matadors match ’10-11 win total

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W-Bball Notebook: Matadors match ’10-11 win total

CSUN star center Jasmine Erving, left, was named Big West Conference Player of the Week Monday. Photo Credit: Mariela Molina / Visual Editor

CSUN star center Jasmine Erving, left, was named Big West Conference Player of the Week Monday. Photo Credit: Mariela Molina / Visual Editor

CSUN star center Jasmine Erving, left, was named Big West Conference Player of the Week Monday. Photo Credit: Mariela Molina / Visual Editor

CSUN star center Jasmine Erving, left, was named Big West Conference Player of the Week Monday. Photo Credit: Mariela Molina / Visual Editor

Ron Rokhy

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CSUN star center Jasmine Erving, left, was named Big West Conference Player of the Week Monday. Photo Credit: Mariela Molina / Visual Editor

Coming off back-to-back wins against Colgate and West Virginia to win the Woodland Hills Thanksgiving Classic championship, the Matadors (4-2) are off to their best start since the 1999-2000 season.

CSUN has already matched its win total from last season and second-year head coach Jason Flowers attributes the improvement to the new recruits and the team’s hard work.

“The players we recruited during the offseason and through the last school year came in with an attitude to get better and wanted to be part of something special,” Flowers said. “Our kids have turned the corner and elevated their work ethic, and they’re getting results.”

Even though Northridge struggled offensively throughout the tournament, they managed to pull off a 48-47 victory against West Virginia Saturday night in the championship round using their defensive presence and persistence on the glass.

“Against West Virginia, I noticed my offensive game wasn’t really there because they were double-teaming me and I wasn’t getting the shots I wanted,” said senior center Jasmine Erving, who finished with 13 rebounds, three blocks and two steals against WVU. “So I had to step up my defensive game and rebounding to contribute to the team.”

The Matadors hope to continue their win streak – and end their offensive struggles – Thursday night against Santa Clara at the Matadome.

“The reality of it was that we knew the West Virginia game was going to be a defensive battle,” Flowers said. “But we’re going to continue to get better and evolve offensively.”

Erving’s defensive stand
Following the tournament, Erving was named Big West Player of the Week. For the season, she’s averaging 15.2 points per game, 10.7 rebounds per game and has a combined 24 steals and blocks.

“(Erving) is always evolving as a player – physically, she’s stronger, quicker and faster,” Flowers said. “If you look at her stats from last year to this year, her rebounds are up which helps both offensively and defensively.”

Even though Erving struggled offensively during the tournament, she still managed to score 14 points per game on 10-of-24 shooting, but her impact was more felt on the defensive end of the court where she totaled 24 rebounds, four blocks and five steals.

“She’s been an anchor on defense, she’s been an anchor on offense and she’s been an anchor in the locker room,” Flowers said. “She’s starting and she’s starting to believe in herself in areas other than scoring the basketball.”

Petersen’s impact
Sophomore guard Kaitlyn Petersen, a transfer from Gonzaga, had a major impact on the team’s success during the tournament as she kept the struggling offense afloat by scoring 15 points per game and shooting a perfect 10-for-10 from the free throw line.

“Coach always tell us to be aggressive,” Petersen said. “They were overplaying passing lanes and I just decided getting to the basketball was what was working best because they were fouling. I got easy points at the line and it helped the team out.”

Petersen, being the most experienced of the three starting guards, scored 17 points in the championship round to lead the Matadors in scoring when they needed it most as they shot a cold 28.1 percent.

“(Petersen) has been in these kinds of situations before,” Flowers said. “She’s talented, just like the rest of the guards, and she just took the opportunity to be aggressive and got to the free throw line and carried us offensively while we struggled in the first half.”