Big West Champs UCSB Prepares to Face Baylor

Big West Champs UCSB Prepares to Face Baylor

• The Schedule
Saturday, March 17, 2012, 11:30 a.m. (PT)
NCAA Tournament First Round
Des Moines Region
No. 16 UC Santa Barbara vs. No. 1 Baylor (34-0)
at Bowling Green's Stroh Center (4,700)
Series record vs. the Bears – 0-2
Streak – Lost 2
Last time out vs. the Bears – L, 92-72 (@ Baylor, 12/11/98)

Game broadcast on AM 1290 KZSB and streaming online by clicking here
Game broadcast on ESPN2/ESPN3

Monday, March 19, 2012
NCAA Tournament Second Round – if necessary
Des Moines Region
No. 16 UC Santa Barbara vs. No. 8 Ohio State (25-6)/No. 9 Florida (19-12)
at Bowling Green's Stroh Center (4,700)
Game broadcast on AM 1290 KZSB and streaming online by clicking here

• UCSB in the NCAA Tournament
UC Santa Barbara is making its 14th NCAA Tournament appearance and its first since 2009. The Gauchos are 7-13 all-time in NCAA Tournament games and are seeking their first win since the 2004 season when that UCSB team went to the Sweet 16.

The Opponents
• vs. #1 Baylor, 3/17
UCSB has the tough task of facing 34-0 Baylor, which is the No. 1 ranked team in the nation and the 2012 NCAA Tournament. The Bears, coached by Kim Mulkey, received every one of the first-place votes in the final regular-season top-25 poll and are led by 6-foot-8 Brittney Griner. She averages 23.3 points, 9.4 rebounds and 5.1 blocked shots per game.
• #8 Ohio State, 3/19
UCSB series record vs. the Mustangs – 1-1
Streak – Lost 1
• #9 Florida, 3/19
UCSB series record vs. the 49ers – 2-1
Streak – Lost 1

• Recapping the Big West Tournament
UCSB won its 14th Big West Tournament title with a 63-54 victory over Long Beach State. The Gauchos, at No. 6, became the lowest-seeded team to win the conference tournament. Junior Kirsten Tilleman was named the tournament's MVP while Melissa Zornig was also voted to the All-Tournament Team. UCSB is now 41-13 all-time in the Big West Tournament, and 14-2 in Big West Tournament title games, including a 5-0 mark vs. Long Beach State.

• NCAA Notes
No. 16 UCSB is facing Baylor, which is seeded No. 1 in the Des Moines Region. The Gauchos' previous lowest seed was No. 15 in 2009 when they matched up with No. 2 seed Stanford in San Diego. Baylor, which is ranked No. 1 in the nation, is the highest-ranked team UCSB has played since that 2009 contest when the Cardinal came in ranked No. 2 in the country. The last time the Gauchos defeated a ranked team came in December, 2005 when UCSB knocked off No. 24 UCLA 90-81 in overtime in the Thunderdome.

• Tenacious D
UC Santa Barbara is continuing its defensive dominance this season, holding opponents to just 51.6 points per game, best in the Big West and ranking the squad seventh in the nation. The Gauchos are also allowing opponents to shoot just 35.8% from the floor, which is the best mark in the conference and 39th in the nation.

• This Defense Doesn't Rest
Should the Gauchos' points allowed per game average – or anywhere near it – hold up, it would rank as one of the best defensive seasons in school history.  The top two marks: the 1973-74 squad allowed opponents an average of 43.6 points per game, while the 2008-09 team allowed 55.5 points per game.

• Wake Me Up Before You Score, Girl
Of the 64-team Tournament field, UCSB averages the fewest points of any of the participating schools. The Gauchos average 53.6 points per game, ranking them 308th out of 336 teams nationwide. The next lowest-scoring team is No. 8 seed Kansas State, which averages 57.8 points per game, or 256th in the nation. The lowest per game average by a UCSB team was 45.2 in the 1973-74 season. This year's team is on pace for the third-lowest point total in school history.

• Climbing the Charts
With 20 points in Anaheim, Emilie Johnson passed  both Kristen Nicholson (1982-86) and Mia Fisher (2001-05) for 12th all-time with 1,380 career points. Johnson has reached double figures in 13 of her last 15 games and the Loomis, Calif. native has 12 20-point games in her UCSB career.

• Top-Ten Time
It's not just points where Emilie Johnson ranks among the best in UCSB history. Johnson is third in career three-pointers made (210, five behind Jess Hansen), first in career three-pointers attempted (648), eighth in career assists (343, seven behind Erin Alexander) and second in career free throw percentage.

• For The Record
At 17-15 overall and with wins in nine of its last 11 games, UCSB has guaranteed itself of finishing above .500 for the 21st time in the past 22 seasons.

• 22 and Counting ...
With its victory at UC Davis in the regular-season finale on March 3, UC Santa Barbara assured itself of finishing Big West regular-season play at 8-8, marking the 22nd consecutive season the Gauchos have finished at .500 or better in conference action.

• Three, It's the Magic Number
Senior Kelsey Adrian has hit multiple three-pointers in eight of her last 10 games and is shooting 36.4% from downtown this season, which is tops on the team and sixth in the Big West. Her 1.50 three's per game are sixth amongst conference players. In just 62 games at UCSB, Adrian already ranks in UCSB's top-10 in career three-pointers. The Langley, B.C. native has nailed 100 three-pointers in her Gaucho career, placing her seventh all-time. Adrian is five treys shy of tying Kristen Mann (2001-05) for sixth in school annals.

• Aiming for a Perfect 10
With Emilie Johnson as the Gauchos' leading scorer at 9.5 points per game, the team does not have a scorer averaging 10.0 or more ppg. At this rate, Johnson needs 26 points vs. Baylor to finish at an even 10.0 points per game. Only once in UCSB program history has a team not had at least one player average double digits. That came in 1982-83 when Thyra Ladyman led the way with 9.7 points per game, a team that averaged 61.7 points per game.

• Board Games
Santa Barbara's two frontcourt stalwarts – Kirsten Tilleman and Sweets Underwood – are two of the best rebounders in relation to their Big West peers. Tilleman ranks second in the conference with 8.4 rebounds per game and Underwood is sixth with 7.0 per game. There has been just two games this season where one of the two didn't grab at least seven rebounds.

• What an Honor
For the fourth consecutive season Emilie Johnson was honored by the Big West as she was named to the All-Big West Second Team. She becomes the first Gaucho since Kristen Mann (2001-05) to be honored by the conference in all four seasons at UCSB. Joining Johnson in being honored was her backcourt mate, Nicole Nesbit, who was named to the All-Big West Honorable Mention squad and was Co-Sixth Player of the Year. Nesbit, who is second on the team in scoring, is the first Sixth Player of the Year at UCSB since Ashlee Brown was honored in 2008.

• CLASS-y Lady
Senior Emilie Johnson has been named one of 10 finalists nationwide for the Lowe's Senior CLASS award, given annually to the best senior who exemplifies hard work on the court, in the community and great character. Johnson is the first Gaucho to be chosen one of the 10 finalists. Fans can vote for Johnson by going to

• Eight is Enough
By finishing at 8-8 in Big West play, the Gauchos dropped more games than they have since the 1990-91 team went 10-8 in Big West play.

• UCSB or UCS-D?
Over the past few years UCSB has been a dominant defensive force. Last year UCSB led the conference in field goal percentage defense (18th in the nation) at 35.5%. In 2009-10, UCSB allowed opponents to shoot 36.3%, which was 31st in the nation, and in 2008-09, the Gauchos allowed opponents to hit 34.6% of their shots, ranking eighth in the country. Also, since the new millennium, seven Gaucho teams rank in the single-season top-10 in opponents' points per game.

• Turning Things Around
UCSB averages just 14.9 turnovers per game, ranking it 45th in the nation. Oddly enough, in UCSB wins, the team averages 16.4 turnovers per game while in losses, the Gauchos average 13.1 turnovers per game. Just two seasons ago, 2009-10, UCSB committed 649 total turnovers (20.3 per game), the 8th-highest mark in program history.

• Probable Starters - Quick Fact
F     1    Sweets Underwood - Her 4 double doubles led UCSB this season
F    2    Kelsey Adrian - One three-pointer shy of 100 for her career at UCSB
G    10    Emilie Johnson - Has hit double figures in 13 of last 16 games
G    33    Destini Mason - Started 24 of her 31 games this season – & 11 in a row
F/C    32    Kirsten Tilleman - Big West Tournament MVP – avg. 11.0 ppg, 8.7 rpg

• Probable Reserves - Quick Fact
G     3    Nicole Nesbit - Named Big West 6th Player of the Year
G    5    Madeline Campbell - 5 points vs. Bakersfield on 2/11 were a season-high
F    15    Adaeze Okolie - Played at Pacific on 3/1; 1st action since Jan. 19 @ Long Beach
F    21    Jackie Luna-Castro - 3 rebounds, 1 block, 1 assist in 4 combined minutes @ BWT
G     22    Melissa Zornig - All-Big West Tournament Team pick – avg. 16.7 points per game
G    24  Angelei Aguirre - Scored a career-high 9 points in tourney title win over Long Beach