UCSB Concludes Homestand With Pacific, UC Davis This Week

UCSB Concludes Homestand With Pacific, UC Davis This Week

Feb. 20, 2008

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The Schedule
Game No. 24
Thursday, February 21, 2008 at 7:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos (17-6, 11-0) vs. Pacific Tigers (11-14, 6-6)
The Thunderdome (6,000)

Game No. 25
Saturday, February 23, 2008 at 2:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos (17-6, 11-0) vs. UC Davis Aggies (15-9, 9-3)
The Thunderdome (6,000)

Whats On Tap
After defeating Cal State Bakersfield 77-67 last Wednesday to conclude its 2007-08 non-conference schedule and outlasting Cal Poly in 74-72 overtime three days later, UC Santa Barbara will wrap up its longest homestand of the season when Pacifc and UC Davis visit the Thunderdome this week. Seeking their first 13-0 mark in Big West play in seven years, the Gauchos will battle the Tigers Thursday night and then entertain the Aggies in a Saturday matinee during week eight of conference play. Following this week's contests, UCSB will travel to defending conference champion UC Riverside in its final road contest of the regular season on Mar. 1 before finishing the year with Cal State Northridge and Long Beach State at home Mar. 6-8.

For the Record
With 11 straight wins to open Big West play, UCSB remains atop the leaderboard with a flawless record of 11-0. Off to their best league start since 2001-02, the Gauchos improved to 17-6 overall with victories over the Roadrunners and Mustangs and maintained their two-game lead over second place UC Riverside (the Highlanders are 8-2 after posting wins over Long Beach State and Cal State Northridge last week). Beginning with the win over Ole Miss on Dec. 29, Santa Barbara has won its last 13 games, which is the program's longest unbeaten streak since the 2001-02 squad went 16-0 in Big West play and won 22 straight overall. UCSB enters Thursday's match-up with an impressive record of 7-2 at home this season.

Gauchos on the Air & Web
Both contests this week, 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 filling in for Steve Wendt. Former UCSB and Los Angeles Lakers star Don Ford will handle the color commentary duties. UCSB's student radio station will also have the tilt with Pacific and their broadcast can be heard live 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. The Gaucho faithful can also follow all of the action live online with CSTV's GameTracker at www.UCSBgauchos.com.

Lucky 13
Needless to say, UCSB has been getting it done on both ends of the floor during its current unbeaten streak, winning the last 13 games by an average of 11.4 points per game. The Gauchos are averaging just under 73 points per night during the streak, which is over three points more than their season average of 69.7. Defensively, Santa Barbara has been even better, limiting the opposition to just 61.5 points per game, which is four points lower than the overall of 65.4 on the year. As a team, the Gauchos are shooting 44.8% over the last 13, while holding the opposition to just 39.2% from the field.

Gauchos Find the Answers In Overtime Once Again
After its 74-72 victory over Cal Poly on Saturday, UCSB is now a perfect 4-0 in overtime contests this season, with three of the wins coming at the Thunderdome and all but one coming against Big West foes. The Gauchos came back to defeat USC 69-63 on Nov. 11 and knocked off Cal State Fullerton 59-58 Jan. 12 in Santa Barbara, while recording a 62-53 overtime win at UC Davis on Jan. 24. UCSB has outscored the opposition 48-30 in overtime periods this season and Jessica Wilson has scored 23 of the Gauchos' 48 points. The senior guard scored Santa Barbara's first four of the extra session against the Mustangs and went on to score six of their nine total points in OT.

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 432-198 (.686) while at UCSB and an overall mark of 530-312 (.629). 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 - Tallied 11 points, 11 rebounds, and 9 assists in win over Cal Poly.
G - Lauren Pedersen - Finished with a career-high 15 points on 6-of-10 shooting against Mustangs.
G - Jessica Wilson - Leads the Gauchos averaging 12.8 points and 6.3 rebounds this season.
F - Margaret Johnson - Posted career-highs of 11 points, 11 rebounds in 20 minutes vs. CSUB.
F - Kat Suderman - Big West's leading scorer averaging 15.2 points in conference games.

Probable Reserves - Notes
G - Chisa Ononiwu - Missed Saturday's game with the stomach flu, expected to play vs. Pacific.
G - Meagan Williams - Played a total of 16 minutes vs. Cal State Bakersfield and Cal Poly last week.
G - Ariana Gnekow - Grabbed two rebounds in six minutes vs. Mustangs.
F - Ashlee Brown - Shooting a team-high 52.3% from the field this season.
F - Jordan Franey - Has been in the starting lineup in three of the last four games.
F - Whitney Warren - Was 2-for-2 and finished with 5 points in return to action against Roadrunners.
C - Jessie Goble - Tied personal best with 4 points against Bakersfield in career-high 14 minutes.

Sharing the Wealth
The Gauchos have done an outstanding job of distributing the ball all season long and they enter Thursday's tilt with Pacific leading the Big West averaging just under 17 assists per game in conference play (16.8). In fact, UCSB has recorded at least 12 assists in 20 straight games in 2007-08 and now averages 15.3 helpers on the year, a figure that is also tops in the league. Santa Barbara finished with 16 assists in the win over Cal State Bakersfield last week and then racked up 23 against Cal Poly -- one shy of the team's season-high that came at Cal State Northridge on Jan. 5.

Quick Hits
UCSB improved to a perfect 15-0 when leading at halftime this season following Saturday's win over Cal Poly...The Gauchos, who have now held a lead at the break in eight straight games, are 2-6 when trailing at intermission...A total of seven players have led the Gauchos in scoring this season with Jessica Wilson leading the way a team-high six times...Four players reached double figures for the second time in the last four games against Mustangs... UCSB is 6-0 when four players score 10 or more...Santa Barbara has been very successful in close games in 2007-08, posting an impressive record of 12-2 in outcomes decided by 10 points or less and a 3-1 mark in contests decided by five points or less...The Gauchos blocked a season-high eight shots in the win over Cal Poly, with Kat Suderman leading the way with a career-high four...UCSB is 13-1 when out-rebounding the opposition this season and just 3-5 when the opposing team controls the glass...Santa Barbara leads the conference and ranks 46th in the nation with an overall rebounding margin of +5.0.

Scouting the Tigers
• UCSB kicks off the week with a match-up against Pacific Thursday night in the Thunderdome. The Gauchos have absolutely dominated the all-time series with the Tigers, winning 43 of 57 pairings, including the last 11. Sha'Rae Gibbons scored a career-high 23 points on 8-of-12 shooting to lead Santa Barbara to a 71-58 victory over UOP in the first meeting of the year on Jan. 26. The Gauchos swept both contests last season as well, routing the Tigers 89-55 Jan. 27 in the Thunderdome, before recording a 79-67 victory in Stockton on Mar. 1. Pacific has not defeated Santa Barbara since Jan. 18, 2003.

• Head coach Lynne Roberts is in her second season with the Tigers and brings back four starters and a total of eight letterwinners from last year's squad that finished the 2006-07 campaign with an overall record of 8-22 and placed eighth in the Big West standing at 2-12.

• Pacific enters Thursday's tilt with an overall record of 11-14 and a 6-6 conference mark after posting home victories over Cal State Fullerton and UC Irvine last week. Junior guard Janae Young was named the Big West Player of the Week on Monday after averaging 18 points and 9.5 rebounds in the two games. On the season, Young leads two active Tigers scoring in double figures, averaging 12.6 points per game while hauling in a team-high 7.4 rebounds. Junior forward Karen Dawkins is putting up 10.2 points per night to go with 6.4 boards and a team-high 19 blocks. Junior point guard Amy VanHollebeke is scoring an average of 9.6 points per game and leads the squad dishing out 3.6 assists. The Tigers average 69.1 points per contest, which ranks second in the Big West, and allow 70.4, a figure that ranks fifth. UOP is 4-8 on the road this season.

Rock Steady
Jessica Wilson finished 9-of-16 from the field and scored a season-high 21 points for the second consecutive game in the Gauchos' win over Cal State Bakersfield last week. She also hauled in seven rebounds, dished out three assists, and recorded three steals. The senior guard reached the 20-point plateau again against Cal Poly, finishing with a game-high 20 on 6-of-14 shooting and 11 of her points came in the final three minutes of regulation and in overtime. For the season, the Sacramento, Calif. native leads the team averaging 12.8 points and 6.3 rebounds per game and is third dishing out 2.7 assists. She has been very impressive from the field in 2007-08, shooting 46.7%, which also ranks third on the team. Wilson has been a big reason why Santa Barbara has not lost in Big West play this season, averaging 14.5 points and a team-high 7.1 rebounds against conference foes. She currently ranks fourth in the conference in scoring, fifth in rebounding, fourth in steals, and ninth in field goal percentage. UCSB is 12-3 when Wilson reaches double figures this season.

Kat Tales
After sitting out against Cal State Bakersfield to rest her knees, Kat Suderman returned to the lineup against Cal Poly on Saturday and had a critical hand in the Gauchos' 74-72 overtime victory. She finished 8-of-17 from the floor and scored 19 points, three shy of her career high. The junior forward also grabbed eight rebounds and finished with a career-best four blocked shots in 28 minutes. Suderman has now scored in double figures in 14 of her last 16 games, leading UCSB to a record of 13-3 over that span, and is averaging 17 points over the last five. The San Luis Obispo, Calif. native is second on the squad averaging 11.6 points and 5.1 rebounds on the season, while shooting 48.3% from the field, a number that also ranks second. The conference's leading scorer in league play at 15.2 ppg, Suderman was named Big West Player of the Week on Feb. 11 after averaging 18.5 points and six rebounds in wins at Cal State Fullerton and UC Irvine.

Rae of Light
Sha'Rae Gibbons continued to fill up the stat sheet last week, averaging 10.0 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 7.0 assists in UCSB's wins over Cal State Bakersfield and Cal Poly. After tallying nine points, four rebounds, and five assists against the Roadrunners, the Sacramento, Calif. native had what will go down as one of the best all-around performances of her career to help the Gauchos pull off the overtime victory against the Mustangs. Gibbons finished one assist shy of a triple-double, racking up 11 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists in 41 minutes of action. Both her rebound and assist totals were career-highs, shattering previous marks of five boards and six helpers, respectively. The 5-foot-7 guard is averaging career-highs of 10.1 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 3.5 assists in 28.2 minutes per game this season. Gibbons has reached double figures in four of the last six games.

Pedersen's Prowess
Gibbons wasn't the only player to have a career game against Cal Poly, as Lauren Pedersen established several new career marks of her own in UCSB's 13th consecutive victory. The junior guard scored a career-high 15 points on 6-of-10 shooting, eclipsing her previous mark of 13 points that also came against the Mustangs in the first meeting of the year on Jan. 19. Both the 10 field goal attempts and six field goals made were also personal bests. As if that weren't enough, Pedersen tallied six rebounds and three steals -- both highs as a Gaucho -- and finished with two assists and two blocks. On the season, the transfer from UCLA is averaging 5.3 points, 2.6 rebounds, and a team-high 3.5 assists. Pedersen enters Thursday's contest with Pacific leading the Big West in assists, dishing out 4.5 per game in 11 conference games this season.

Climbing the Charts
With a driving layup with 2:38 remaining in UCSB's 73-61 win over defending Big West champion UC Riverside Jan. 31, 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 and has scored a total of 294 through 23 games in 2007-08. With 20 points last week against Cal Poly, Wilson passed both Mary Ann McLaughlin (1976-79) and Nicole Greathouse (1997-2000) on UCSB's all-time scoring charts. Currently sitting at No. 19 with 1,068 career points, she now needs 86 to pass Jess Hansen (1999-2003) for the 18th spot on the list. 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.

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.