UCSB Hosts Long Beach State In Big West Home Opener, Welcomes UC Irvine This Week

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Jan. 3, 2007

The Schedule
Game No. 14
Thursday, January 4, 2007 at 7:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. Long Beach State 49ers
The Thunderdome (6,000)

Game No. 15
Saturday, January 6, 2007 at 2:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. UC Irvine Anteaters
The Thunderdome (6,000)

This Week
The UC Santa Barbara women's basketball team returns to the Thunderdome this week for its Big West Conference home opener against defending co-champion Long Beach State on Thursday, Jan. 4. Tip-off slated for 7:00 p.m. Last season the Gauchos and 49ers both finished 10-4 in league play and split the season series with both contests decided by six points or less. Following the showdown with Long Beach State, UCSB will entertain UC Irvine Saturday, Jan. 4 at 2:00 p.m. The Gauchos took one of two from the Anteaters in 2005-06 as well, with each squad winning on the other's home floor.

The Gaucho Record
UCSB enters the second week of Big West action with an overall record of 5-8 and a 1-1 conference mark after splitting a pair of league contests on the road last week. The Gauchos, who entered BWC competition with a record of 4-7, dropped their conference opener for the first time since the 1988-89 season when they fell at UC Riverside, 70-57. UCSB shot a season-worst 28% from the field in the loss to the reigning Big West Tournament champs. Santa Barbara bounced back two days later at Cal State Fullerton, erasing a 16-point second half deficit to edge the Titans 73-71. The Gauchos hope to carry that momentum into this week's match-ups with Long Beach State and UC Irvine in the Thunderdome, where they are just 2-5 so far in 2006-07 after posting a 10-3 home record a year ago.

UCSB on the Air & Web
Both contests against the 49ers and the Anteaters, along with every other UCSB women's basketball game in 2006-07 will be broadcast live on KIST 1340 AM in Santa Barbara. Steve Wendt is back for his third season as the play-by-play voice of the Gauchos alongside former Los Angeles Laker and UCSB star Don Ford, who will provide most of the color commentary. Broadcasts begin 15 minutes prior to tip-off with the "Gaucho Pregame Show". Fans can also catch all games live via the internet by going to www.ucsbgauchos.com and purchasing the "UCSB All-Access Pass". With this option hoops fans can enjoy live audio and video from the comfort of their homes courtesy of CSTV.

UCSB Battles Back, Escapes with Narrow Victory Over Cal State Fullerton
After scoring just two points in the first half, Jenna Green scored 21 in the second leading the Gauchos to a 73-71 conference victory over Cal State Fullerton last Saturday to improve to 1-1 in Big West play. Green led the Gauchos in scoring for the fifth consecutive game and finished with a season-high 23 points. Jessica Wilson tallied 14 points, while Whitney Warren added 10, and Jordan Franey chipped in with nine off the bench. The Gauchos overcame a 16-point deficit with 14:32 remaining in the game to post their largest come-from-behind victory this season and 26th consecutive win over the Titans. After UCSB used a 13-2 run to pull within five, Fullerton looked to have to stemmed the tide after back-to-back three-pointers to take a double-digit lead once again, 56-45. Santa Barbara responded once more, this time with a 7-0 run capped off by a Green jumper in the paint to trail by just four, 56-52 with 6:51 on the clock. The Gauchos then claimed their first lead of the second half when Warren put back an offensive rebound roughly three minutes later. UCSB shot the ball well, finishing 25-of-57 from the floor, 43.9%, and knocked down 20-of-28 attempts at the free throw line. The Gauchos controlled the glass and held a 42-30 rebounding advantage.

Offense Shows Signs of Life
After shooting consecutive season-lows of 30% and 28% from the field in back-to-back losses to Michigan State and UC Riverside, the Gauchos responded with one of their better offensive performances of the season at Cal State Fullerton. UCSB shot just under 44% from the floor in the win over the Titans, making 25-of-57 shots from the floor. That came after Santa Barbara shot a combined 37-of-128 (28.9%) in the two previous contests. Not surprisingly, the Gauchos reached the 70-point mark for the fourth time this season last Saturday after averaging just 51 against the Spartans and Highlanders. The 73 points the Gauchos scored was their fourth highest total in 2006-07. UCSB is 3-1 this season when scoring over 70 points.

Mr. Milestone
Mark French returned to his alma mater at the start of the 1987-88 season and women's basketball at UC Santa Barbara has never been the same. Now in his 20th season as head coach of the Gauchos, French has had an immensely successful career, posting a record of 401-186 (.683) while at UCSB and an overall mark of 499-300 (.625). Since the 1991-92 campaign, a period spanning 15 years, French's Gauchos have won 12 Big West Conference titles and advanced to 11 NCAA Tournaments--including five second rounds and a Sweet 16 appearance--as well as two Postseason WNITs. Individually, French has earned an unprecedented seven Big West Coach of the Year honors, while in 2002-03 he was named WBCA District 8 Coach of the Year and a finalist for the Naismith National Coach of the Year award. He is the dean of Big West coaches, with nine more years of experience in the league than any of his current counterparts. French, who collected his 400th win at UCSB when the Gauchos defeated Pepperdine 78-67 Dec. 18, is just one win shy of another major milestone -- his 500th career victory as a head coach.

Probable Starters - Notes
G - LaShay Fears - Team leader with 41 assists this season.
G - Jessica Wilson - Scored 10 or more in three of last four games, averaging 11.3 ppg over that span.
G - Chisa Ononiwu - Tallied 10 points and career-best four steals in first-ever start at Riverside.
F - Whitney Warren - Had highest scoring total since Nov. 26 in win over Titans (10).
C - Jenna Green - Scored 21 of season-high 23 points in second half at Fullerton Saturday.

Probable Reserves - Notes
F - Jordan Franey - Leads squad with 20 three-point baskets in 2006-07.
G - Meagan Williams - 0-for-6 in just 10 minutes against Highlanders and Titans.
G - Sha'Rae Gibbons - Has not taken a shot in Gauchos' last four games.
G - Kim Smith - Missed last week's road trip due to personal reasons.
G/F - Ariana Gnekow - Averaged just 3.0 points, 2.5 rebounds in previous four contests.
F - Ashley Hall - Appeared in seven games this season, averaging two minutes per contest.
C - Jessie Goble - Scored second-career basket last Thursday in loss to UC Riverside.

Board Games
One of the things head coach Mark French has talked about all season is how critical rebounding is to the Gauchos' success. UCSB split two games on the road to open Big West play and the team's ability to control the rebounds against Cal State Fullerton was a big factor in the comeback victory. Santa Barbara held a 42-30 advantage on the glass against the Titans, marking the fifth time UCSB out-rebounded an opponent this season. The Gauchos are 4-1 in those games, posting wins over Portland State, Richmond and Pepperdine in addition to Cal State Fullerton. The only game Santa Barbara lost when out-rebounding thier opponent was against Oregon -- when the Gauchos held a slim 35-33 margin over the Ducks. Another good sign is the fact that the rebounding has not just come at the defensive end of the floor for UCSB as of late. The Gauchos hauled in a season-high 14 offensive boards against the Highlanders and then eclipsed that mark with 18 in the win over the Titans.

Scouting the 49ers
• UCSB welcomes Long Beach State to the Thunderdome this week in its Big West home opener. Thursday night's showdown with the league defending co-champions marks the 64th meeting between the two programs. Santa Barbara leads the all-time series 35-28 after splitting two meetings a year ago. The 49ers dealt the Gauchos their first loss in conference play last season, posting a 58-52 win in Long Beach Jan. 7. UCSB evened the scored five weeks later with a narrow 46-43 victory in the T-Dome, as Jenna Green led the way with 16 points.

• Long Beach State enters conference play against the Gauchos with a 3-11 record, but has won two straight after defeating UC Davis 63-47 and Fairfield 62-61. The win over the Aggies snapped a four-game losing streak for the 49ers. Through 14 games, LBSU has been outscored by its opponents by an average of 65.4 to 50.1 -- the worst margin in the Big West -- and has been out-rebounded by the opposition by a 38.61 to 35.1 margin. The 49ers shoot 34.5% from the field, while their opposition has shot 41.6%. Sophomore guard Karina Figueroa is 13th in the conference in scoring at 11.6 points per game to go with 2.3 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.4 steals per contest. Freshman guard Lauren Sims is second averaging 8.0 points and 3.0 rebounds, while shooting a team-high 35.4% from behind the arc.

Scouting the Anteaters
• Following Saturday's contest with LBSU, the Gauchos will host UC Irvine Saturday night in the 46th meeting between the two schools. UCSB holds a 43-22 advantage over UCI all-time and took one of two from the Anteaters in 2006-07. The Gauchos recorded a 71-60 victory led by Kat Suderman's 17 points Jan. 9 in the Thunderdome, before falling 82-69 in Irvine Feb. 16.

• UCI enters Big West play this week, as well and will take on Cal Poly Thursday before coming the Santa Barbara Saturday. The Anteaters own a 2-11 overall record and have lost seven straight, coming off of a 64-62 defeat against UC Davis last week. UCI averages 61.2 points per game, while its opponents put up 70.8 percontest. The Anteaters have been out-rebounded by the opposition by a 42.1 to 35.2 margin and shoot 37.1% from the field to their opposition's mark of 44.9%. Junior forward Stephanie Duda leads three players who average double figures in points at 12.7 points per game with sophomore forward Kelly Cochran and senior guard Angie Ned not far behind at 12.4 and 11.8, respectively.Duda is also the Anteater's leading rebounder at 10.4 per game and shoots a team-high 46% from the floor.

Green Machine
There is no question that junior center Jenna Green is critical to UCSB's success on both ends of the floor. Green leads the Gauchos averaging 16.5 points and 7.6 rebounds and has recorded a team-high 14 blocked shots. The San Jose, Calif. native has led the team in scoring the last five games and has done so a total of nine times this year. Green, who also leads the squad shooting 52.5% from the floor, is the only player on the roster who has scored in double-figures in all 13 games this season. As far as Big West statistics go, Green ranks first in the conference in field goal percentage, second in scoring, third in blocks, and sixth in rebounding. The center had one of the best performances of her career Saturday at Cal State Fullerton, as she scored 21 of her season-high 23 points in the second half, leading the Gauchos back from a 16-point deficit. She made 7-of-18 shots -- not one of her better games from the field -- and hauled in a game-high eight rebounds in the win. Green's total was one shy of her career-high of 24 set March 10 against Cal State Northridge and eclipsed her previous season-best of 21, which she tallied on three occasions. Green, who is second on the team in minutes played at 31.8, has recorded three double-doubles this season.

If UCSB wants to bring home a 12th-straight Big West Conference trophy, junior guard Jessica Wilson is another player that will have to perform at her highest levels. The Sacramento, Calif. native has definitely shown her versatility this season, excelling in a number of areas for UCSB. Wilson is second on the squad in scoring at 13.2 ppg and rebounding at 5.5 rpg and leads the team averaging 3.2 assists and 1.8 steals per contest. The team's best all-around athlete, she has also made 10-of-33 three-point shots (33.3%), which leads the squad. Wilson has played well in her last four contests since missing the game against Loyola Marymount Dec. 9, and has averaged 11.3 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 2.0 assists over that span. She shot 5-of-15 from the floor for 11 points and finished with seven rebounds, two assists, and two steals against Riveriside and was even better in the win at Fullerton, tallying 14 points on 7-for-8 shooting to go with a game-high eight rebounds, two assists and two steals. Wilson started the 2006-07 season on an absolute tear, scoring a career-high 30 points in Santa Barbara's season-opening victory over Portland State and tallying 28 a week later in the loss to Oregon.

Making a Name For Herself
Freshman Forward Jordan Franey has started 11 games this season and is averaging 8.9 points and 4.2 rebounds in 26.7 minutes per game. The San Diego native has also proven to be one of UCSB's biggest three-point shooting threats, leading the team with 19 treys and 60 attempts. Franey had a break-out performance in the Gauchos' 62-57 win over Weber State Dec. 7, when she led all scorers and finished with a career-best 22 points on 7-for-12 shooting, including 4-for-6 from three-point territory. She also hauled in a career-best 12 rebounds to record her first-career double-double as a Gaucho. Franey struggled in her first game coming off the bench against UC Riverside last week, making just 1-of-8 shots for five points, but then made 3-of-6 attempts against Cal State Fullerton and finished with nine points.

The Warren Court
Sophomore guard Whitney Warren has started the last 10 games and is averaging 7.7 points per contest. She is second on the team in field goal percentage, making 40% of her attempts, and third grabbing 5.3 rebounds per game and in minutes played at 31.2. Warren scored a career-high 18 points and added nine rebounds, equaling her second-highest total ever in the Nov. 24 loss to No. 24 Louisville. Two days later, she came back with another solid effort, recording 13 points and six rebounds. The 13 points were her second-highest total as a Gaucho and it marked the first time in her career that she had scored in double-figures in back-to-back games. Warren made 4-of-8 shots and finished with 10 points to go with seven rebounds and a season-high three steals in the Gauchos' win over the Titans Saturday. She scored in double figures for the third time this season and first since her 13 -point performance against the Cardinals Nov. 24.

New Years Resolutions
With the first two months of the season behind them, the Gauchos have improved steadily in each month and hope that trend continues in January 2007. UCSB won its first game of the year, defeating Portland State 88-73, but then lost four straight to finish just 1-4 in November. Last month Santa Barbara finished at an even 4-4, winning two of their first three in the month of December. January proved to be a strong month for the Gauchos a year ago, as they followed a 4-1 December with an impressive 6-2 mark in the first month of the new year.

UCSB Lands Three Prized Recruits
On Wednesday, November 8, UCSB announced the signing of three high school seniors to National Letters of Intent during this year's early signing period. Ashlee Brown, a 6'0" forward from Good Year, Ariz., a 5'11" guard Courtney Collishaw of Visalia, Calif., and Margaret Johnson, a 5'11" forward from Lake Oswego, Ore. will join the Gauchos next season as true freshmen. Brown was named to the 2005-06 Arizona Tribune First Team and garnered First Team All-Fiesta Region accolades after averaging 21 points, 16 rebounds, five steals, four assists, and three blocked shots per game as a junior at Chandler High School. Collishaw signs with UCSB after earning Cal-Hi Sports All-State Junior Second Team honors at Redwood High School. She was named to the CIF Central Section First Team after scoring 22.6 points per game a year ago. Johnson enters her final season at Lake Oswego High School having guided the team to a second place league finish in 2006 at 10-4 and an 18-8 overall record. In 2007-08 Santa Barbara will also gain the services of 5'10" guard Lauren Pedersen, a junior transfer from UCLA. A native of Brea, Calif., she played two seasons with the Bruins, averaging 2.5 points and 1.6 rebounds in 54 career games while making 11 starts during that span. Pedersen will have two years of eligibility at UCSB starting next season.

Gauchos Look To Start Streaking
2005-06 was a very disappointing year by UCSB standards. Finishing just 16-14 last season and losing in the WNIT First Round, Coach French and the Gauchos had a number of streaks broken that they will be looking to reestablish this year. UCSB saw its streak of nine consecutive Big West Tournament titles come to a crashing halt after a narrow loss to UC Riverside in the title game. That being said, Santa Barbara did not receive the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament and its string of nine-straight trips to the Big Dance was also severed. With a total of 16 victories, UCSB saw its span of 10 seasons with at least 20 wins broken, as well. Finally, although the Gauchos did win the Big West regular season title, they shared the honor with Long Beach State, which snapped their streak of 10-straight outright conference championships--a run that was the longest in the nation. Needless to say, UCSB will aim to start a new set of streaks in 2006-07.

O'Bryan, Thomas Leave UCSB
On October 17, head coach Mark French announced that two key players would not be with the Gauchos in 2006-07. Guard Erin O'Bryan and forward Shantel Thomas both left the program citing personal reasons. O'Bryan, who appeared in 27 games for UCSB last season, averaging 6.9 points, 2.2 rebounds, and 1.5 assists, will not be back for her senior season. Thomas, on the other hand, is expected to return at some point, provided she maintains her eligibility. The Sacramento, Calif. native appeared in 25 games as a true freshman in 2005-06, averaging 2.5 ppg and 2.6 rpg in 11.2 minutes per contest.

Another Blow...
Less than a month later, the coaching staff was dealt more bad news when the decision was made that Kat Suderman will redshirt in 2006-07. The San Luis Obispo, Calif. native will be inactive this season as she rehabilitates from a knee surgery she had last spring. Suderman was one of only two players to appear in all 30 games last season, starting eight games for UCSB. She posted career-highs averaging 6.2 points and 6.1 rebounds in 21.2 minutes per game. Over the past two seasons, Suderman has appeared in a combined 56 games, more than any other Gaucho over that span.