Undefeated Gauchos Enter Second Half of Big West Play at Cal State Fullerton, UC Irvine

Feb. 5, 2008

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The Schedule
Thursday, February 7, 2008 at 7:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos (13-6, 8-0) at Cal State Fullerton Titans (7-13, 5-3)
Titan Gym (4,000)

Saturday, February 9, 2008 at 2:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos (13-6, 8-0) at UC Irvine Anteaters (6-16, 2-6)
Bren Events Center (5,000)

Whats On Tap
After knocking off defending Big West champion UC Riverside last Thursday, UC Santa Barbara hits the road again seeking its first 10-0 start in conference play since the 2001-02 season. To do so, the Gauchos will have to get past a Cal State Fullerton team that has won five straight and pushed UCSB to overtime in the first meeting of the year on Jan. 12. After clashing with the Titans, the Gauchos will travel to UC Irvine to face an Anteater squad that is also playing well, coming off its first two leagues win of the season last week. Santa Barbara will then return home for four straight games in the Thunderdome beginning with a non-conference tilt with Cal State Bakersfield Feb. 13.

For the Record
With the impressive victory over Riverside, UCSB wrapped up the month of January with a perfect 8-0 mark in the Big West and took a two-game lead over the second-place Highlanders entering the second half of conference play. The Gauchos are off to their best league start since the aforementioned 2001-02 season when Santa Barbara finished a flawless 16-0 in the Big West and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament (UCSB lost to Texas 76-60). Beginning with the 74-66 victory over Ole Miss on Dec. 29, the Gauchos have now won their last nines games overall -- UCSB's longest unbeaten streak in nearly three years -- and enter Thursday's match-up with Cal State Fullerton with an overall record of 13-6. Santa Barbara has been very successful away from home this season, posting a record of 7-3 on the road.

Gauchos on the Air & Web
Both the contests with Fullerton and Irvine, along with every other UCSB women's basketball game in 2007-08, will be broadcast live on KIST 1340 AM in Santa Barbara. Steve Wendt is in his fourth season as the play-by-play voice of the Gauchos and he will have the call live as the Gauchos take on the Titans and Anteaters on the road this week. Yours truly will try not to scare away listeners while handling the color commentary duties for both games. 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.

Gauchos End Slide Against Riverside With 73-61 Win
Trailing 28-24 with 2:41 remaining in the first period, UCSB closed the half on an 8-0 run and never looked back, defeating defending Big West champion UC Riverside 73-61 Thursday night in the Thunderdome. The Gauchos scored six of the first seven points of the second half to take a 38-29 advantage and led by as many as 12 on three occasions during the decisive final stanza. The win was Santa Barbara's first over Riverside since Jan. 2, 2006 and snapped a five-game skid against the team that has claimed the Big West's last two berth's in the NCAA Tournament. UCSB limited the visitors to just 36.5% shooting, while finishing above 40% for the eighth time in the last nine games at 42.6%. Santa Barbara held a 43-33 rebounding advantage, grabbing 16 boards on the offensive end. The Gauchos also won the turnover battle, finishing with just 13 while the Highlanders racked up a total of 18 miscues. Jessica Wilson led the charge, recording her third double-double in the last five games with 19 points and 12 rebounds, while Kat Suderman added 13 points and nine boards and Sha'Rae Gibbons chipped in with 10 points and three assists.

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 428-198 (.684) while at UCSB and an overall mark of 526-312 (.628). 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 - Sha'Rae Gibbons - Averaging 12.7 points over the last six games.
G - Lauren Pedersen - Leads the Big West dishing out 4.6 assists per game in league play.
G - Jessica Wilson - Team leader averaging 12.1 points and 6.3 rebounds this season.
F - Jordan Franey - Averaging 22 minutes per game over the last three.
F - Kat Suderman - Has scored in double figures in 11 of UCSB's last 13.

Probable Reserves - Notes
G - Chisa Ononiwu - Hit both of her shots in seven minutes against UC Riverside.
G - Meagan Williams - Tallied 7 points, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks vs. Highlanders.
G - Ariana Gnekow - Was scoreless in three minutes in last week's win.
F - Ashlee Brown - Shooting a team-high 51.3% from the field this season.
F - Margaret Johnson - Played in three of Santa Barbara's last four.
C - Jessie Goble - Appeared in just two of the last six games.
F - Whitney Warren - Suspended for next two games for a violation of team rules.

Best In the Big West
While the Gauchos have played excellent defensively over their current nine game winning streak, the Santa Barbara offense has also been firing on all cylinders during Big West play. Entering Thursday's contest at Cal State Fullerton, UCSB leads the conference in scoring offense averaging 71.8 points per game, scoring margin at +14.0 points, and field goal percentage at 44.7% against league competition. The Gauchos also rank second in terms of free throw percentage at 75.7%. All told, Santa Barbara ranks in the top three in 16 of a possible 19 categories and also leads the Big West in rebounding defense (31.1), rebounding margin (+7.7), offensive rebounds (13.88), and turnover margin (+4.75).

Quick Hits
UCSB improved to an impressive 11-0 when leading at halftime this season after Thursday's win over UC Riverside...The Gauchos are 2-6 when trailing at intermission...Santa Barbara turned the ball over just 13 times against the Highlanders, which is one more than the team's season-low of 12 that came against UC Irvine on Jan. 10...The Gauchos have recorded at least 12 assists in each of the last 16 games and are averaging 16.7 per game during the current nine game unbeaten streak...UCSB outrebounded UC Riverside 43-33 to improve to 10-1 when controlling the glass this season...Four different players had at least five rebounds against Riverside last week and a total of seven players had three or more...A total of seven players have led the Gauchos in scoring this season...Jessica Wilson, Sha'Rae Gibbons, and Kat Suderman have all led the way four times apiece.

Scouting the Titans
• The Gauchos will look to build on the momentum from last week's big win when they invade Titan Gym Thursday night. UCSB and Cal State Fullerton have clashed 57 times over the years and Santa Barbara leads the all-time series 36-21. Jessica Wilson scored 11 of her 17 points in the final 10 minutes to lead UCSB to a 59-58 overtime victory in the first meeting on Jan. 12. The Gauchos swept three meetings from the Titans in 2006-07, including a 57-52 win in the Big West Tournament Semifinals. Santa Barbara has not lost to Cal State Fullerton since 1995, winning the last 29 meetings.

• Dr. Maryalyce Jeremiah is in her 12th year as head coach of the Titans and has the services of just five total letterwinners from last year's squad that finished with an overall record of 16-16 and placed fifth in the Big West standings at 7-7.

• Fullerton enters Thursday's match-up riding its longest winning streak since the 1990-91 season after winning its last five games, four of which have come in conference play. The Titans defeated Long Beach State and Cal State Northridge last week to improve to 7-13 overall and 5-3 in the Big West. Junior forward Toni Thomas leads the league in scoring at 17.7 points per game and ranks fifth in rebounding hauling in 7.3 per contest. Thomas also ranks third shooting 48.8% from the field. Freshman guard Lauren Chow has been impressive during her rookie campaign, averaging 12.3 points and a team-high 3.5 assists, a figure that ranks second in the Big West. She has also knocked down a league-best 45 three-pointers. Freshman guard Ashley Richie has been playing very well lately as well, averaging 14.4 points per night in conference games. She is coming off a 20-point performance in the Titans' 59-55 win over the Matadors on Saturday. As a team, CSUF averages 63.5 points per game and allows 73.1.

Rock Steady
Jessica Wilson has been leading the charge during the Gauchos' nine game unbeaten streak and she came up with another big time performance against the defending Big West champions last week. The senior guard lead UCSB with 19 points and a season-high 12 rebounds in the win over UC Riverside, racking up her third double-double in the last five games and fourth of the season overall. Wilson now has a total of 11 double-double efforts for her career. As noted on page four Wilson also became the 22nd player in program history to score 1,000 points for her career when she scored her 16th and 17th points late in the second half. For the season, the Sacramento, Calif. native leads the team averaging 12.1 points and 6.3 rebounds per game and is third dishing out 2.5 assists. She has been very impressive from the field in 2007-08, shooting 46.7%, which ranks third on the team. Wilson has been a big reason why Santa Barbara has not lost in Big West play this season, averaging team-highs of 14.4 points and 7.7 rebounds against conference foes. She currently ranks fourth in the conference in scoring, fifth in rebounding, first in steals, and eighth in field goal percentage. UCSB is 9-3 when Wilson reaches double figures this season.

Kat Tales
After tallying 16 points, eight boards, and a career-high three steals in the Gauchos' win at Pacific Jan. 26, Kat Suderman continued to get it done in the post against the Highlanders. She finished with 13 points on 5-of-13 shooting and hauled in nine rebounds, which is new a season-high. The San Luis Obispo, Calif. native also had a block and a steal in 23 minutes. Suderman has now scored in double figures in 11 of the last 13 games, leading UCSB to a record of 10-3 over that span. On the season, she is second on the squad averaging 10.5 points and 4.8 rebounds per game and ranks fourth in terms of field goal percentage, shooting 45.8% from the floor. The 6-foot-4 forward is averaging 13.3 points over the last 13 games and has put up an average of just under 14.0 points in Big West contests, which ranks second on the squad. Suderman averaging career highs in points, rebounds, blocked shots, field goal percentage, and minutes played this season.

She Can Dish It Out...
Lauren Pedersen has been setting the table for her teammates all season long and the transfer from UCLA enters Thursday's contest at Cal State Fullerton leading the Big West dishing out 4.63 assists per game in league play. She ranks third in the conference averaging 3.42 per night overall this season (the leader is averaging 3.52) and has recorded at least four helpers in nine of the last 11 games. Pedersen has finished with five or more assists on five occasions this season, including a career-best nine in UCSB's win at Pacific two weeks ago. On the season she is averaging 5.1 points and 2.4 rebounds, while shooting 33% from the field. Pedersen scored a career-high 13 points in UCSB's win at Cal Poly Jan. 19.

Rae of Light
Coming off a career-high 23-point effort in which she scored 19 points in the second half to lead Santa Barbara to a 71-58 victory over Pacific on Jan. 26, Sha'Rae Gibbons had another strong finish against UC Riverside. The Sacramento, Calif. native finished with 10 points and hit six free throws in the final 1:30 to keep the Highlanders at bay and put the game on ice for the Gauchos. Gibbons was 2-of-4 from the floor and also recorded three assists and a steal. The 5-foot-7 guard is averaging career-highs of 9.8 points, 2.2 rebounds, and 3.2 assists this season. She leads the team shooting 82.8% from the free-throw line.

Wilson Reaches 1,000
With a driving layup with 2:38 remaining in Thursdays 73-61 win over defending Big West Conference champion UC Riverside, senior guard Jessica Wilson became 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 229 through 19 games in 2007-08. Wilson is now 17 points shy of passing Lori Sanchez (1979-83) for 21st on UCSB's all-time scoring charts. Wilson joins teammate Jenna Green as a member of the elite 1,000 point club and they became 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 against Cal Poly on February 17, 2007.

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.

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.

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.