UCSB to Close First Round of Big West Schedule with Hawai’i

UCSB to Close First Round of Big West Schedule with Hawai’i

Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014 at 7pm
UC Santa Barbara vs. Hawai'i (10-9, 4-3)

at The Thunderdome
All-time Record vs. Rainbow Wahine: 13-20
Last Time: L, 54-51 (2/21/13)
Online Audio: UCSBgauchos.com
Live Stats: UCSBgauchos.com 

Week in Review
UCSB returns to the Thunderdome after dropping back-to-back contests last week. First, the Gauchos took on UC Irvine where they lost 77-60 and went on to lose at UC Davis 82-70. Melissa Zornig led the team in both games with 12 points and 14 points, respectively. The senior also pulled down eight rebounds against the Aggies for another team-high mark. UCSB finds itself in eighth place with a 1-6 conference record and one game ahead of UC Riverside which is still in search of its first Big West victory.     

Z For Three
Since the start of conference play, UCSB has seen its three-point shooting percentage make a significant jump from 30.8 to 41.4 percent. Melissa Zornig has been the main reason for the improvement, as she is shooting well over 50 percent from downtown in the Big West. Zornig's 58.1 conference three-point shooting clip tops the league and is nearly six percent more than the second-best mark. The senior has netted 18 triples in Big West play alone after recording just 14 in the nonconference schedule. She has been averaging 2.6 threes per contest since the start of conference play.

Clair 'Swatkins'
Though having only played 10 games this season, Clair Watkins has found her place on the team as its blocks leader. The 6-4 junior transfer has recorded a team-high 11 blocks. She is one of just four players in the league to be averaging more than one block per Big West game (1.1). The Charlotte, N.C. native has blocked two or more shots on four occassions, highlighted by her three at Long Beach State.  

Ware-ing Them Down
Marqueed by her first career double-double, Jasmine Ware had some of her best performances this year during conference play. She recorded career-highs of 12 points and 11 rebounds against UC Riverside (1/23/14) in 29 minutes off the bench. Her rebounding has improved from 3.5 in nonconference play to 4.4 against Big West opponenets, second-highest on the team. She is also pacing the Gauchos with 1.3 steals per conference game, which is tied for seventh in the league.   

In the Nic of Time
For the first time in conference play, Nicole Nesbit scored in double-digit figures twice in the same week. With 12 points at UC Irvine and 17 points against UC Davis, the senior's 29 total points were the most in one week since she put up back-to-back 20-plus point performances against Seattle and Utah. She also led the team in assists last week with seven total.    

Zealous Zornig
Melissa Zornig has showcased her versatility this year with her ability to make an impact in games without necessarily scoring points. While she is the team's leading three-point shooter and its second-leading scorer (13 ppg), she has also recorded the second-most boards (4.8 rpg) and the second-most assists (2.8 apg). 

Board Game
For UCSB, rebounding has made all the difference between games won and games lost. During the Gauchos' six wins, they have averaged 40.7 rebounds per game, while they only pull down an average of 31 in their losses. Against UC Riverside, the team garnered a season-high 55 rebounds, which is the most since Nov. 20, 2010 when the team pulled down 59 against Idaho. UCSB has also held its opposition to 41.8 percent shooting in wins, compared to 49.6  percent in its loses.  

Senior Leadership
The three Gaucho seniors have led the team in most major categories this season. In fact, the trio makes up the roster's top-three leaders in minutes, field goals, three-pointers, and points. The seniors make up more than 63 percent of UCSB's total points this season, as they all rank among the Big West's top-15 in points per game. They are the only school to have as many players to rank in that range.     

Defense Makes the Difference
The Gauchos are posting their highest scoring average (65.4 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 six wins, UCSB has allowed its opponents an average of 63.8 ppg, while in its losses, the team gave up an average of 74.1 ppg. 

Fresh Five
Against UC Davis (2/1/14), the Gauchos went with their youngest starting five of the season with three freshmen (Onome Jemerigbe, Melissa Maragnes, and Mi'Chael Wright), a sophomore (Jasmine Ware), and one senior (Melissa Zornig). Those starters were on the floor together for the first four minutes of the game and garnered a 9-4 lead after forcing four turnovers.

Wrangling the Rainbow Wahine
Hawai'i enters this week in a three-way tie for third in the Big West along with Long Beach State and UC Davis. The team is looking to end a two-game skid after suffering one possession loses to both LBSU and Cal State Northridge. The Rainbow Wahine have three players scoring in double figures in league play with Kamilah Jackson (14.3 ppg) leading the way. Jackson has put up a 15.8 average on the season with perhaps her best performance coming against Ole Miss when she dropped 30 points and pulled down 10 rebounds in a 79-63 victory. Ashleigh Karaitiana is the team's deep threat, as she shoots .429 from the beyond the arc and has sunk 27 treys. 

Trouble on the Mainland
While Hawai'i sports a 7-3 home record, the team has not found the same success on the mainland with a 3-6 mark away from Honolulu. Ashleigh Karaitiana displayed late-game heroics against the Matadors as she forced overtime by knocking down the game-tying three with 11 seconds left in regulation. In both games, however, Hawai'i watched the opposing teams put in the game winning points at the free throw line.