UCSB Hosts Seattle, Visits Utah this Week

Schedule

Saturday, Dec. 28, 2013 at 2pm

UC Santa Barbara vs. Seattle (5-7)

at The Thunderdome

All-time Record vs. Redhawks: 1-1

Last Time: L 60-55

Radio: KZSB AM 1290

Online Audio: UCSBgauchos.com

Live Stats: UCSBgauchos.com

Monday, Dec. 30, 2013 at 6pm PST

UC Santa Barbara vs. Utah (2-4)

at Jon M. Huntsman Center

All-time Record vs. Utes: 17-4

Last Time: W 52-44

Online Audio: UCSBgauchos.com

Live Stats: UCSBgauchos.com  

One at Home, Three on the Road

The Gauchos will host their final home game of the 2013 calendar year on Saturady against Seattle. The team will look to end a season-high four game losing streak while also seeking its first win in the Thunderdome since Nov. 26. After that match up, the team will embark on a three-game road starting in Utah on Dec. 30. 

Join the Club

UCSB hosted two competitive opponents last week in Utah State and Nevada. The Gauchos dropped both matchups, but Nicole Nesbit did reach the 1,000-point milestone against the Aggies. The senior's 11 points made her the 25th Gaucho to score that many points, and she will have the rest of the season to increase her mark and join the ranks of some of the program's all-time greats. She enters this week with 1,023 points, 23rd most in UCSB history. 

Charging on Offense

This year's Gaucho team has been Carlene Mitchell's most offensively productive group since she took the helm in 2011. The team has averaged 67 points per game so far, easily beating out UCSB's 50.8 and 51.5 averages it held at the same point in the previous two seasons. 

On Target

The Gauchos lead the Big West by shooting 42.5 percent from the field this season. They also pace the conference by averaging the fewest turnovers with 14.4 per game. While handling the ball well on offense, UCSB has limited its competition on defense, as it has allowed 69.8 ppg (fourth fewest in the league).      

More from Morrison

Last week, Kendra Morrison has put up back-to-back performances of seven or more rebounds for the first time in her Gaucho career. She has started most contests for UCSB and has become an integral part of the team as a forward. She was just two rebounds shy of her first double-double when she put up a 12-point, eight-rebound effort against Utah State.

Senior Workload

UCSB's senior class has carried the offense through the first four games. With Nicole Nesbit (17.1), Destini Mason (13.8), and Melissa Zornig (13) all averaging double digits, the senior guards have scored over 65 percent of the team's total points. All three are among Big West's top-15 scorers: Nesbit (3rd), Mason (11th), and Zornig (13th). 

Fantastic Freshmen

Though only freshmen, Onome Jemerigbe and Mi'Chael Wright have stepped up and played productive minutes for the Gauchos this season. At point guard, Jemerigbe has been a starter in all but one of UCSB's games this season and is tied for the team with 14 steals. As one of the team's true post players, Wright is the team's most efficient shooter, as she has made 66.7 percent of her shots. 

Zealous Zornig

Melissa Zornig has become a well-rounded player this season, as she is among the top-three Gauchos in points, rebounds, and assists. She averages 13 ppg (third), 5 rpg, (second) and 3.5 asg (first). Her 2.5 assists/turnover ratio is the third best mark in the league. The senior has come close to recording her first double double on two occasions this season. First at St. Mary's, she poured in a team-high 19 points while also dishing out nine assists. She then came up just one rebound shy at Pepperdine with 18 points and nine boards on her stat sheet.

Taking on Seattle

The Carlene Mitchell era opened with a matchup against Seattle. In 2011, the game was played in Washington with the Redhawks picking up the 60-55 win. This week, Seattle will be playing with two of its starters from the 2011 game in Kacie Sowell and Ashley Ward who have both become premiere players on the team. Sowell currently paces the roster with 13.8 ppg, while Ward is third with 11.8.  They are coming off a narrow 55-53 loss to Cal State Fullerton and will be playing in their third stop of a five-game road trip on Saturday.

On to Utah

Utah is rolling on a four-game winning streak going into Monday's game, including three straight wins at home. Their only loss at home this season came against then-No. 15 Nebraska in a 75-69 decision. Michelle Plouffe leads the team with her double-double average of 19.6 ppg and 11.4 rpg. Freshman guard Emily Potter has quickly become a key member of the roster as she is second on the team with 11.9 ppg and 6 rpg.         

Big West Preseason Poll

In the the conference's preseason media poll, the Gauchos were selected to finish fifth in the Big West, receiving 100 total votes. The defending champion Cal Poly was selected as the No. 1 team in the poll with its 17 first-place votes. Hawai'i will be entering its second season as a member of the Big West and was picked to finish second.    

2012-13 Recap

Last season, UCSB played in the postseason for the 16th time in the past 17 seasons by competing in its fifth WNIT. The Gauchos finished the season overal 16-17 and 11-7 in Big West play, qualifying for the fourth seed in the conference tournament. Senior Sweets Underwood and junior Nicole Nesbit were both recognized by the Big West for their standout play on the floor, as Underwood was named first-team all-conference while Nesbit was an honorable mention. Underwood finished the season with a team-high 401 points and became the 24th player in program history to score 1,000 or more career points.