Women’s basketball drop opener

Michael Harrington

The Matadors picked up right where they left off last season. Unfortunately.

The Cal State Northridge women’s basketball team was defeated handily in its season opener, losing 76-55 to the Rice University Owls in Houston on Friday night.

‘The game was very challenging,’ said Matador Head Coach Staci Schulz. ‘(The Owls) were playing in a brand new facility, so it was a special night for them. They played well.’

Rice sophomore Morgan Mayse led all scorers with 16 points, shooting 5-for-11 from the field. Matador senior Tonicia Tademy led Northridge in points, rebounds, and assists with 15, 8, and 4 respectively. Fellow senior Ashley Blake also had four dimes and put in eight points.

The Owls took control of the game in the last ten minutes of the first half. Down by one, junior Tara Watts sank back-to-back three pointers to spark a 24-8 run to end the half. Watts ended the game 3-for-5 from beyond the arc and had 13 points.

‘We were back and forth with them in the first half,’ said Schulz, referring to the first ten minutes when there were eight lead changes. ‘They were able to go on a run, though, and we weren’t able to answer it.’

The Matadors weren’t able to weather the storm in the second half either. They watched the lead stretch from 15 to 27 in the first seven minutes of the period. It marked Northridge’s largest deficit of the game.

‘We still have some work to do defensively,’ said Blake. ‘Things such as being there on help defense. We’re getting there, but we have to keep at it.’

Once the Owls took the 27-point lead, the closest the Matadors were able to get was within 21, and that happened in the last seconds of the game.

Finding bright spots in a rout such as this is difficult to do, but CSUN feels they made a nice improvement on a key part of their game.

‘We started to take care of our fouling problem a little bit,’ said Schulz. ‘We didn’t put them to the line as much as we had been doing in the preseason and that’s something we want to continue improving on.’

The Owls went to the line 24 times. The Matadors shot 22 free throws. Rice sank 15, but Northridge was only able to make nine.

‘We shot very poorly from the free throw line,’ said Blake, who was 0-2 from the charity stripe. ‘That’s really a lack of readiness for the game. We’ll work on that in practice.’

Junior Kayla Rutherford made her Matador regular season debut and scored eight points on 2-for-6 shooting. Freshman Bridgette Conejo had a nice collegiate debut, going 3-for-4 from the field, scoring six points and grabbing three rebounds in 16 minutes of play.

Sophomore Analee Viena-Lota contributed eight points to the Matador’s cause. She also hauled in six rebounds and dished out two assists in the loss.

For Rice, senior Maudess Faulton added 14 points from the forward spot. Fellow senior Emery Carter led all players with nine boards, while freshman D’Frantz Smart was tops on the Owls with 4 assists.

As a team, Northridge shot 39 percent from the field, including just 2-11 from three-point land. The Owls finished at a 46 percent clip, and went 7-for-17 from three.

Rice outrebounded the Matadors 46-36, and led the points-off-turnovers stat 20-9. The Owls turned the ball over 18 times, and forced Northridge into 20.

The Matadors played one more game in the Lone Star State Sunday against Prairie View A’amp;M before heading back to California for their home opener Wednesday.