January 22, 2014

UCSB Continues Home Stand with UC Riverside, Cal State Fullerton

Schedule
Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014 at 7pm
UC Santa Barbara vs. UC Riverside (4-13, 0-4)

at The Thunderdome
All-time Record vs. Highlanders: 22-15
Last Time: W, 62-42 (3/2/13)
Online Audio: UCSBgauchos.com
Live Stats: UCSBgauchos.com

Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014 at 2pm
UC Santa Barbara vs. Cal State Fullerton (6-10, 2-1)

at The Thunderdome
All-time Record vs. Titans: 41-12
Last Time: L, 46-38 (2/28/13) 
Radio: KZSB AM 1290
Online Audio: UCSBgauchos.com
Live Stats: UCSBgauchos.com

Week in Review
UCSB lost a pair of Big West matchups last week after visiting Long Beach State and hosting Cal State Northridge. The 49ers outpaced the Gauchos 72-53 after taking a 12-2 run to open the second half. Destini Mason led the team with a near double double that night, scoring 17 points and pulling down nine rebounds. Later in the week, UCSB fell to CSUN 64-46 in its Big West home opener. Nicole Nesbit finished the game with a team-high 13 points and a career-best tying six rebounds.  

Touch of Destini
Destini Mason put up career numbers during the nonconference schedule, but her offensive stats have seen a booming increase since the start of Big West play. Her scoring has improved from 13.6 points per game to 15.3 ppg, while her shooting from the field has elevated from 42.7 to 51.4 percent. She has also been accurate from long-range, as she has knocked down six three-pointers which is just one shy of her total from the nonconference schedule. Not suprisingly, her shooting percentage from downtown launched from 41.9 to 66.7 percent.

Dishing It Out
While Nicole Nesbit's scoring figures have seen a dip in conference play, going from 16.4 to 9.3 ppg, she has been pivotal in getting her teammates involved on offense. She is fifth in the Big West with four assists per league game, which is an improvement on her 3.5 mark from her overall stats. Also doing work in the rebounds category, the guard is co-leading the Gauchos with 4.7 defensive boards per game in the Big West. 

Senior Leadership
The three Gaucho seniors have led the team in most major categories this season. In fact, the trio are the roster's top-three leaders in minutes, field goals, three-pointers, points, and defensive rebounds. The seniors make up more than 65 percent of UCSB's total points this season, as they  all rank among the Big West's top-15 in points per game. Cal Poly is the only other school to have as many players to rank in that range.   

On Target from Near and Far
The Gauchos are fourth in the Big West by shooting 40.3 percent from the field this season. UCSB doesn't lose its touch when shooting at the three-point line, as they are tops in the league with a 33.3 shooting percentage from downtown. They also second in the conference by averaging the fewest turnovers with 14.2 per game.      

Zornig Ranks
Aside from being UCSB's third-leading scorer with 12.3 ppg, Melissa Zornig has put up numbers that rank among the nation's best. With her 2.1 assists/turnover ratio, the senior has the 3rd best mark in the Big West, while her 88.9 free-throw shooting percentage places her in a tie for 23rd in the NCAA.

Downtown Looks
The Gauchos have improved their three-point shooting average from 33.3 to 45.5 percent. No other Big West team is shooting over 40 percent in league play. Destini Mason leads the way for UCSB with by making 66.7 percent of her long-range looks, while Melissa Zornig is averaging two three-pointers per Big West game. 

Defense Makes the Difference
The Gauchos are posting their highest scoring average (65.1 ppg) since Carlene Mitchell became the head coach three years ago, but the team's success has relied more on defense than offense. In its five wins, UCSB has allowed its opponents an average of 64.4 ppg, while in its loses, the team gave up an average of 73.1 ppg. 

Wrangling Riverside
UC Riverside will be in search of its first Big West victory when the team visits the Thunderdome on Thursday. They boast four players who average double-digit scoring figures with Brittany Crain leading the way with her league-best mark of 19.7. Natasha Hadley meanwhile leads the Highlanders with 6.3 rebounds per game and also puts up 11.6 per contest. Riverside is the most efficient shooting team in the league, knocking down 41.7 percent of its field goal tries. The team also knows how to dish the ball, averaging a Big West-leading 16.5 assists per game, with Simone DeCoud recording 3.5.    

Clashing with the Titans
Under its new coaching staff, Cal State Fullerton has had a good start to its Big West schedule, going 2-1 with its lone loss coming in an overtime matchup with UC Davis. The Titans have held their opponents to a league-best 65.2 points per game, while their offense averages 60.8. Chante Miles is the team's top scorer and assists leader, averaging 14.8 points and 4.4 helpers per outing. The junior has also recorded the most steals on the roster with 19. Kathleen Iwuoha paces the team in rebounds with her 5.7 average.