Tuesday, March 8, 2016 at 6:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara vs. UC Irvine (4-26, 1-15)
at The Bren Events Center
Last time: W, 66-37 (2/20/16)
All-time Record vs. Anteaters: 61-30
Records as of 3/7/16
Gaucho History in the Big West Tournament
This year marks UCSB's return to the conference tournament after finishing in ninth place last season. In the 2014 tournament, the Gauchos came up short in the first round to UC Davis 58-57 at the Walter Pyramid (Long Beach State). The Bren Events Center is hosting the first two rounds of the tournament for the first time since the 2013 postseason, This may be good news for the Gauchos, as the team is undefeated at the Bren Events Center in postseason play. Most recently, they topped CSUN 45-31 in the conference quarterfinals in 2013. The year before, UCSB upset the third-seeded Anteaters 61-51, which would prove to be the Gauchos' first step to a conference championship.
Smile for the Camera!
The entire Big West Tournament will feature television broadcasts. ESPN3 will present every game from the first round to the semifinals, while Fox Sports Prime Ticket will carry Saturday's championship game.
How the Playoffs Work
Since the 2013-14 season, the Big West has structured its women's basketball conference tournament to give the top two seeds automatic berths into the semifinals, which will be played at the Honda Center in Anaheim. The third and fourth seeds earn byes into the quarterfinals, where they will play the winners of the first round games, which position the fifth seed versus the eighth, and the sixth against the seventh. This year, the first round and quarterfinals will be hosted at UC Irvine in the Bren Events Center from March. 8-9, as the tournament will later move to the Honda Center for the semifinals and finals rounds that will be played from March 11-12.
Attacking the Anteaters
The Gauchos will be seeking its third win over UC Irvine on Tuesday, as they previously downed the Anteaters by scores of 80-62 (2/11) and 66-37 (2/25) in the regular season. In their first contest, Onome Jemerigbe led an explosive Gaucho offense to its fourth 80-plus point game of the season with her career high 20 points. The point guard also led the team with four assists and four of UCSB's 11 steals. Overall, the Gauchos forced 22 Anteater turnovers. In their second game, it was UCSB's defense that set the tone, as it held UCI to 37 points, the lowest point total of any Gaucho oppponent this year. Jasmine Ware led the team with 17 points off the bench, as UCSB cruised with a 42.4 shooting percentage. Considering both games, UCSB has beaten UC Irvine by an average of 23.5 points.
The Gauchos played just one game last week, as they fell at Hawai'i 59-45. The Rainbow Wahine -- who went on to clinch the second seed in the conference tournament -- held UCSB to 25 percent shooting from the field. Coco Miller netted a team high 13 points and also finished with four rebounds and two steals. Not to be overlooked, Chaya Durr grabbed a team best eight rebounds to go along with her seven points.
Three Gauchos were honored by the conference on Monday morning, as Makala Roper and Jasmine Ware were named Honorable Mention All-Big West, and Coco Miller was selected to the All-Freshman team. It was the first time Roper and Ware have been selected to any type of all-conference recognition.
Three of a Kind
Makala Roper owns the best three-point shooting percentage in Big West play with a 44.2 percent clip. Behind that mark, she is also third in the league with 38 made three-pointers in conference action, which has helped her net 183 points. Overall this year, she has netted 60 shots from downtown (fifth in the league), accounting for 180 of her 353 total points this season. Her best three-point performance came at home against UC Davis (1/21) when she went 6-13 from downtown, finishing with a conference season high of 26 points.
After back-to-back four-point efforts at UC Irvine (2/11) and Long Beach State (2/13), Jasmine Ware has reached double digit scoring figures in five of the past four games and was UCSB's leading scorer in three of them. She first led all bench players with 10 points in the Gauchos' 12-point win of the Matadors, and later finished with16 points and career-high eight assists in a narrow loss to LBSU. Last week, she dropped 17 points on UC Irvine and paced the Gauchos with 14 points at Cal Poly. Ware -- who plays as the sixth man for the Gauchos -- has averaged 24.4 minutes per league game, while shooting 48.1 percent from the field and averaging 4.1 rebounds, leading all UCSB guards.
Though only a freshman, Coco Miller has been one of UCSB's top scorers from the start of the season, as she is currently third on the team with a 9.1 ppg average. The guard is also second only to Roper for the most three-pointers on the roster with 50, ranking seventh in the Big West. The freshman has also shown she can set up plays for her teammates, as she is third on the team with 60 assists, behind only Onome Jemerigbe (120) and Makala Roper (77) who both play part or full time at point guard.
A Helping Hand
Onome Jemerigbe is currently one of the Big West's top distributors, as she is pacing UCSB with 4.1 assists per game and is second in the Big West with 5.3 apg in conference play, as she is just one of two players in the Big West averaging more than five helpers per league game. Perhaps the junior's best performance this season was her 11-assist game against Cal State Fullerton (2/3/16), while she recently recorded eight assists against UC Irvine (2/25/16). She also had 10 dimes at UC Davis (1/21/16), which was her first career double-digit assists game.
Center of Attention
Je Zhé Newton didn't make her Gaucho debut until a Dec. 4 match up versus Loyola Marymount, but since then she has played a key role for the Gauchos at the five position. The 6-3 center has finished with a pair of double doubles this year, while scoring in double figures in six games. Her most recent double double came against Long Beach State (2/20) when she finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds. Newton's best scoring game was at UC Irvine (2/11) when she netted 16 points and came up three rebounds shy of a double double. The center has also been a force on defense with 28 blocks and averaging 1.7 per game, the third best rate in the league. Most recently, she recorded two blocks at Cal Poly (2/27), marking the ninth time this season she has had a multi-block performances.
UCSB has been among leading Big West teams in steals, averaging 9.0 overall (third) and 9.1 in league play (also third). Overall, the team has reached double figures in the steal category in 11 games this year. In conference play alone, Onome Jemerigbe is second in the league with 31 swipes, while Jasmine Ware is tied for fifth with 28. Along with Coco Miller and Chaya Durr tying for 10th with 24 swipes apiece, UCSB ties UC Riverside for the most players in the conference's top-10 in steals during league play.
UCSB wrapped up the confernce schedule with the league's third best shooting percentage at 42.5. Ware leads the team and ranks 10th in the conference with a 48.1 shooting percentage, while Makala Roper is making 40.9 percent of her looks as the team's leading scorer. Including their nonconference play, UCSB has gone 40.9 percent from the floor (third), which is a huge jump from the 2014-15 season when the team ranked last in the league with a 37.3 league shooting clip.