UCSB Comes Home To Face UC Irvine, Cal State Fullerton In Big West Action This Week

Jan. 9, 2008

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The Schedule
Thursday, January 10, 2008 at 7:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos (7-6) vs. UC Irvine Anteaters (4-11)
The Thunderdome (6,000)

Saturday, January 12, 2008 at 2:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos (7-6) vs. Cal State Fullerton Titans (2-10)
The Thunderdome (6,000)

Whats On Tap
After defeating Long Beach State and Cal State Northridge on the road to open Big West play, the UC Santa Barbara women's basketball team will take the court in Santa Barbara for the first time since Dec. 17 when they face UC Irvine and Cal State Fullerton in conference action this week. The Gauchos, who have played in the friendly confines of the Thunderdome just twice in their last 11 games, will look to keep rolling against the Anteaters Thursday at 7:00 p.m., before entertaining the Titans Saturday in a 2:00 matinee. UCSB will then have six full days off before traveling to Central Coast rival Cal Poly on Jan. 19.

For the Record
Santa Barbara enters the second week of Big West play atop the league standings with an overall record of 7-6 and a 2-0 mark against league competition following it's most convincing victory of the season -- an 88-44 thrashing of Cal State Northridge on Saturday afternoon. The impressive win over the Matadors came two days after the Gauchos defeated Long Beach State 70-62 to claim their 18th conference opener in the last 19 years. Riding its first win streak of the season, UCSB has now won its last three contests to climb above the .500 mark for the first time in 2007-08. The Gauchos, who will play in the Thunderdome for the first time in over three weeks on Thursday, own a record of 2-2 at home this season.

Gauchos on the Air & Web
Both the clashes with UC Irvine and Cal State Fullerton, along with every other UCSB women's basketball game in 2007-08, will be broadcast live on KIST 1340 AM in Santa Barbara. KEYT-TV Sports Director Gerry Fall is in his fourth year as the play-by-play voice of the Gauchos' men's team and he will have the call live from the Thunderdome this week, filling in for Steve Wendt. UCSB's student radio station will also have Santa Barbara's two games live and their broadcasts can be heard online at www.kcsb.org. If radio isn't your thing, you can watch all games live via the internet by going to www.bigwest.tv and purchasing the UCSB season package. For the third straight year the Big West Conference and CSTV are partnering to bring exclusive Big West Gaucho events to fans online. BigWest.TV offers on-demand access to LIVE coverage of Big West contests as well as press conferences, features, and Big West Championships.

UCSB Gets Defensive Against Northridge
The Gauchos return to Santa Barbara for their conference home-opener this week on the heels of their best defensive performance of the year in the rout of Cal State Northridge. While the effort came against a winless Matadors' squad, UCSB still got after it on the defensive end, holding CSUN to just 44 points for the game -- nearly 14 points fewer than their season average -- an impressive feat regardless of the opponent. In fact, the 44 points was fewest Santa Barbara has allowed in game this season, far surpassing the previous low of 61 that came in the Gauchos' season-opening loss to BYU. UCSB also held the Matadors to just 17-of-57 shooting, 29.8%, which was also a low for an opponent in 2007-08.

Offense Shines As Well
The Santa Barbara offense was stellar against Northridge as well, with five players reaching double figures on the way to the 88-point outburst, UCSB second-highest total this season (the Gauchos scored a season-high 95 points in a win at Santa Clara on Nov. 29). The 44-point margin of victory was UCSB's largest since defeating Cal State Fullerton 86-41 on Feb. 6, 2002. As you would expect, Santa Barbara shot the ball extremely well, making 35-of-65 shots, a season-high 53.8%, and recorded 24 assists on its 35 made baskets, also a high mark for the year. Lastly, the Gauchos sank a season-best 11 threes, finishing a very impressive 52.4% from behind the arc.

About The Coach
Mark French returned to his alma mater at the start of 1987-88 season and women's basketball at UC Santa Barbara has never been the same. In his 21st season as head coach of the Gauchos, French has had an immensely successful career, posting a record of 422-198 (.681) while at UCSB and an overall mark of 520-312 (.625). Since the 1991-92 campaign, a period spanning 16 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 three 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 was 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 and holds conference records for league wins and consecutive seasons at one school. French reached two major coaching milestones last season, winning his 400th victory at UCSB with a 78-67 Santa Barbara win over Pepperdine Dec.18 and then notched his 500th career victory overall when the Gauchos defeated Long Beach State Jan. 4.

Probable Starters - Notes
G - Lauren Pedersen - Posted career-highs of 10 points and 7 assists at Cal State Northridge.
G - Jessica Wilson - Reached double figures in back-to-back games for first time since Nov. 23-29.
G - Chisa Ononiwu - Averaging 13.3 points over the last three games.
F - Whitney Warren - Equaled a season-high with 6 rebounds in win over Matadors.
F - Kat Suderman - Scored career-best 19 points and pulled down season-high 6 rebounds at LBSU.

Probable Reserves - Notes
G - Sha'Rae Gibbons - Dished out a career-high 6 assists for the third time this season on Saturday.
G - Meagan Williams - Made 10-of-13 shots, 77%, vs. 49ers and Matadors last week.
G - Ariana Gnekow - Notched a season-high 6 points in UCSB's victory at Northridge.
F - Ashlee Brown - Was 6-for-6 at free-throw line and finished with career-best 10 points vs. 49ers.
F - Jordan Franey - Averaged 13 minutes per game last week.
C - Jessie Goble - Set new career mark with 3 rebounds in 9 minutes at CSUN.

Injury Report - Notes
F - Margaret Johnson - Missed Saturday's game with head injury, will not play vs. Irvine.

Quick Hits
The Gauchos held halftime leads of 10 and 14 points against Long Beach State and Cal State Northridge last week, improving to 6-0 when leading at intermission this season...UCSB has been very successful in close games in 2007-08, improving to 5-2 in contests decided by 10 points or less following the 70-62 victory over LBSU...While Santa Barbara was seven points shy of its season-high (95) in the 88-44 rout of CSUN, the Gauchos did convert a season-best 35 shots from the field...UCSB has been sharing the rock extremely well lately, averaging just under 19 assists per game over the last four, which is nearly five more than the team's season average of 14.1 per game...After using two different starting lineups last week, head coach Mark French has now used a total of 10 different starting fives this season.

Earning Their Stripes
UCSB has been excellent at the free-throw line lately, hitting 20-of-21 attempts, 95.2%, in its two games last week, including a perfect 13-of-13 effort in the win over the 49ers. The performance marked the second time in school history Santa Barbara has shot 100% at the stripe in a game, with both coming in the last two seasons. The Gauchos set the school record in 2006-07, finishing a flawless 23-for-23 at the line in a 90-63 win over UC Davis Feb. 3. UCSB has shot better than 80% from the foul line in five of the last six games and ranks second in the Big West at 72.8% this season.

Scouting the Anteaters
• Santa Barbara will look to remain undefeated against Big West competition Thursday night when UC Irvine comes to town. The Gauchos and Anteaters have squared off a total of 67 times over the years and UCSB leads the all-time series 45-22. The Gauchos swept both meetings with Irvine in 2006-07, defeating the Anteaters 86-67 in the Thunderdome Jan. 6, before posting an 81-71 victory at the Bren Center on Feb. 8. Jessica Wilson led the way, averaging 15.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 9.0 assists in the two contests. UCI's last win in the series came on Feb. 16, 2006, when the Anteaters recorded an 82-69 win in Santa Barbara.

• Molly Tuter is in her fourth year as head coach of UC Irvine and welcomes back four starters and eight letterwinners from the 2006-07 squad that finished with an overall record of 6-24 and placed seventh in the Big West standings at 3-11.

• UC Irvine enters Thursday's match-up with an overall record of 4-11 after dropping an 89-83 decision to the University of San Diego in overtime Sunday despite 10 points and 12 rebounds from junior forward Kelly Cochran. The Anteaters won four out of five from Nov. 20 through Dec. 7, but have lost their last seven by an average of nearly nine points per game. Irvine is just 1-5 in true road games this season. On the year UCI ranks second in the Big West averaging 68.6 points per game, but has allowed an average of 74.1, a figure that ranks seventh. Senior forward Stephanie Duda is averaging a double-double through 15 games in 2007-08, putting up a team-high 13.1 points and 10.5 rebounds per game. Cochran is second averaging 11.3 points and 7.7 rebounds per night, while shooting a team-best 45.5% from the field. Senior guard Miranda Forry is Irvine's top three-point threat, shooting 36.5% (19-52) from behind the arc. She is third on the team averaging 8.0 points per game.

Kat Tales
Junior forward Kat Suderman continued to get it done in the post last week, leading UCSB to victories over Long Beach State and Cal State Northridge on the road. After earning a spot on the Lady Griz Holiday Classic All-Tournament Team following a 15-point, seven-rebound performance in Santa Barbara's win over Ole Miss on Dec. 29, Suderman finished 8-for-15 from the field on the way to a career-high 19 points against the 49ers. That total eclipsed her previous high of 17 that came at UC Irvine in January of 2006 and she also established new personal best in terms of field goals attempted and field goals made. The San Luis Obispo, Calif. native racked up a season-high eight rebounds and a tied a career-best with two blocked shots in a career-high 30 minutes of action, as well. She had another strong performance in the Gauchos' rout of the Matadors, tallying 14 points on 7-for-13 shooting to go with six rebounds and a block in just 20 minutes. For the week, Suderman shot 53.4% and averaged 16.5 points and seven rebounds and was named the Golden1 Credit Union Gaucho of the Week for her performance. The 6-foot-4 forward has now scored in double figures in six of the last seven games.

Good To Have You Back
Nobody is happier to be playing against league foes than Jessica Wilson. Entering last week's Big West opener at Long Beach State, Wilson had uncharacteristically been held to less than 10 points in four out of the Gauchos' previous five games. But the Sacramento, Calif. native had two great outings against the 49ers and Matadors, helping UCSB take first place in the conference standings after the first week of play. Wilson went 6-of-10 from the floor for 14 points at LBSU and added four rebounds, three assists, and two steals. The senior guard was even better at Northridge, going 6-for-11 from the field and converting 3-of-6 threes -- a career-high for three-pointers made -- for 15 points. She hauled in six rebounds, dished out three assists, and recorded a season-high five steals in what was one of her best all-around performances of the season. Through 13 games, Wilson leads the team averaging 11.0 points and 5.3 rebounds per game and is third dishing out 2.5 assists. She has been very impressive from the field in 2007-08, shooting 50.5% (56-11), which is second only to Meagan Williams among active players. Wilson averaged 13.9 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 5.1 assists in Big West play in 2006-07.

Pedersen's Prowess
Junior guard Lauren Pedersen has been doing a little bit of everything recently and has been a big reason why the Gauchos have found their stride over the last three games. The transfer from UCLA did not shoot the ball particuliarly well at Long Beach State, finishing just 1-of-8 from the floor, but she did tally four rebounds, a team-high four assists, two blocks, and a season-high three steals in 27 minutes off the bench. Pedersen got the starting nod two days later at Cal State Northridge and was very impressive, finishing 4-of-6 from the field to tie her career-high with 10 points (she scored 10 in Santa Barbara's win over Ole Miss Dec. 29). She also set a new mark with a game-high seven assists, surpassing her previous high of five that came at Montana on Dec. 28, to go with two boards, a block and a steal in just 20 minutes of action. On the season, the native of Brea, Calif. is averaging 4.8 points, 2.2 rebounds, and leads the squad dishing out 3.0 assists per game, but those numbers jump up to 7.0 ppg, 3.2 rpg, and 5.0 apg over the last five. Pedersen leads the team with 10 blocked shots in 2007-08.

Wilson Watch
Senior guard Jessica Wilson enters Thursday's match-up with UC Irvine just 83 points shy of becoming the 22nd player in program history to score 1,000 points for her career. The Sacramento, Calif native began the season with 774 career points -- 402 of which came last year -- and has scored a total of 143 through 13 games in 2007-08. Wilson is looking to join teammate Jenna Green as a member of the elite 1,000 point club and if she does, they will become the first duo to reach the plateau together since Kristen Mann and Mia Fisher did so in 2003-04 and 2004-05. Green scored her 1,000-career point last season against Cal Poly on February 17, 2007.

Green To Redshirt Rest of 2007-08 Season
The Gauchos will be without the services of Jenna Green for the rest of 2007-08. On Dec. 20 head coach Mark French announced that the senior center will redshirt the remainder of the season after missing five of UCSB's first nine games with back spasms. Green, who was granted a medical redshirt after tearing the medial collateral ligament in her left knee early in the 2004-05 season, will apply for a sixth year of eligibility from the NCAA after the season in hopes of returning for 2008-09. The two-time All-Big West FIrst Team selection leads Santa Barbara averaging 11.5 points and is second hauling in 4.5 rebounds in four games this season. UCSB is 2-3 without Green in 2007-08.

Gauchos Picked To Finish Second In Preseason Polls
For the first time in over a decade the Gauchos were not selected to win the Big West Conference regular season title by either the coaches or the media in voting conducted at the league's annual media day Oct. 25. UCSB finished second in both polls behind regular season and conference tournament champion UC Riverside, who received eight first place votes and 64 total points to capture the top spot in the preseason coaches' poll. Santa Barbara received one first place vote and 57 points, finishing a unanimous second. UC Davis was chosen to finish third with 44 points, while Cal Poly received the fourth place nod with 41. Long Beach State, Cal State Fullerton, Pacific, Cal State Northridge, and UC Irvine followed rounding out the poll. In the media poll, the Gauchos received one first place vote and 81 total points to finish second behind the Highlanders, who garnered nine first place votes and 89 points. Complete results of the voting can be seen at the bottom left of this page.

Green, Wilson Tabbed Preseason All-Conference
When the media selected a Preseason All-Big West Team at this year's annual media day, UCSB had two players selected, marking the sixth consecutive year a Gaucho made the squad. Senior center Jenna Green earned one of the six spots for a third consecutive year after earning All-Big West First Team honors last season. The San Jose, Calif. native led the Gauchos in points (16.6), rebounds (7.1), and blocked shots (1.7) for the second straight year, while shooting a league-best 53.7% from the field in 2006-07. Green was the only player to start all 33 games for UCSB last season. Also earning a nod for the preseason all-conference squad was senior guard Jessica Wilson. Wilson led the Big West averaging 4.5 assists and finished in the conference's top 10 in six major statistical categories. The Sacramento, Calif. native earned a second consecutive Second Team All-Big West selection after averaging 13.0 points and 6.7 rebounds in 31 games a year ago.

UCSB Inks Two For 2008-09
UC Santa Barbara signed a pair of high school seniors to National Letters of Intent during the early signing period, head coach Mark French announced Nov. 16. Emilie Johnson, a 5'6" point guard from Roseville, Calif. and Megan Kritscher, a 6'3" forward from Woodland, Calif. will join the Gauchos for the 2008-09 season as true freshmen. Johnson is in her senior season at Del Oro High School in Roseville, where she was named the 2006-07 Sierra Foothill League MVP after averaging 15.1 points, 5.0 rebounds, 4.2 assists, and 3.2 steals, while shooting 43% from the field as a junior last season. The only junior to earn a spot on the Sacramento Bee All-Metro First Team, Johnson led the Golden Eagles to 26-2 record and a third consecutive SFL championship a year ago. She is a three-time all-league selection and was named the Sonora Kiwanis Tournament MVP as a sophomore in 2006. Kritscher signs with UCSB after averaging 12.6 points, 11.5 rebounds, and 5.5 blocked shots per game as a junior at Pioneer High School last season. An All-Tri-County League selection, Kritscher scored a career-best 22 points while hauling in 11 rebounds and blocking three shots to lead the Patriots to a 44-30 victory over rival Woodland High School last year and recorded a career-high 10 blocks in a game against Inderkum. She was also an all-league performer in volleyball for PHS last season.

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