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Big West Notebook

December 16, 2002 Conference Notes No Comments



Big West Conference Notebook

by Shaan Hassan

Completely disregard my last column. I went out of my way to make it perfectly clear that Utah State was clearly the best team in the league. I went on and on about forward Desmond Penigar and the Aggies’ defense and ball control. I said that the only thing I know in this topsy-turvy conference is that the Aggies are the best team. Apparently, not even that is true.

After going 5-0 to start the season, Utah State’s current two-game losing streak has vaulted Cal State Northridge into a tie at the top. The Matadors’ 92-67 victory over San Jose State, combined with the Aggies’ losses (BYU and a dismal Jackson St. team), have Northridge looking like the best team in the league.

While Utah State took first place with defense and ball control, Northridge is doing it with offense, offense and more offense. The Matadors are averaging over 83 points per game with guard Ian Boylan leading the way (18 ppg). The second leading scorer is forward Curtis Slaughter, who’s averaging just under twelve points per game. The Matadors have nine players averaging over five points and 11 players averaging double-digits in minutes per game.

Northridge started off 1-2 after losses to Portland State and Oregon, but has since won four straight, three of which came in blowout fashion. Against Howard, Dec. 1, the Matadors won 101-80. Six days later, Northridge routed Bethany College by 66 points, 117-51. On Dec. 14, San Jose State fell victim to the offensive onslaught of the Matadors, 92-67.

The Matadors’ defense isn’t too shabby either, holding opponents to 67 points per game and totaling 87 steals (12.4 per game). However, with a fast-paced offense comes sloppy play at times, and Northridge is no exception. The team is averaging 21.1 turnovers per game to just 18 assists.

Even with the turnovers, the team’s margins of victory lately and their shot clock ignorant offense show that the Matadors are clearly the team to beat in the conference…at least for this week.

Spin the Big West Wheel to find out next week’s best team.

Big West? Big Deal!

It’s become clear that no one really fears teams in the Big West Conference. During a span of five days, from Dec. 10 to 14, conference teams went 3-9. Those wins came on Dec. 14: UC Riverside’s 71-58 win over UC Santa Cruz, Northridge’s 92-67 triumph over San Jose State and Pacific’s 75-59 victory over San Francisco.

Long Beach State played three games between Dec. 8 and Dec. 14, losing all three of them by a combined 40 points. Among the losses, UCSB fell victim to Cal, 67-60, while Idaho and Cal State Fullerton both went
0-2.

Final-ly, Time Off

Out of the mix is UC Irvine, which gave its team the week off to prepare for final exams. While some believe the term student-athlete should be turned around to read athlete-student, UCI, at least for the time being, chose to recognize the former.

The Anteaters’ last game came Dec. 7, when they held no mercy against Pomona Pitzer and embarrassed them 91-23 – the largest margin of defeat in UCI history. The last day of finals at UC Irvine was Dec. 13 and the Anteaters will return to action Dec. 19 when they visit Stanford.

Irvine, with a 3-2 record, is ninth in the NCAA in free-throw percentage at 80 percent, 22nd in three-point shooting at 43 percent and 43rd in field-goal shooting at 49 percent. Center Adam Parada is 10th in the NCAA in field goal shooting at 70 percent.

Matador Named Player of the Week

Guard Ian Boylan of Cal State Northridge was honored as the Big West Conference Player of the Week on Dec. 9, as the Matadors went 2-0 for the week. The super sophomore scored 22 points in Northridge’s 64-61 win over previously unbeaten San Diego Wednesday. Boylan shot 7-16 from the field and added six rebounds and four steals.

His week wasn’t quite finished, yet. Saturday, he scored 15 points in his team’s 117-51 victory over Bethany College. During the two games, Boylan averaged nearly 19 points, five rebounds and four steals. He also shot 50 percent from the behind the arc and 44.4 percent from the field.

     

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