February 23, 2011

Gauchos Host Long Beach, Northridge in Final Two Home Games

Feb. 23, 2011

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• The Schedule
Thursday, February 24, 2011, at 7:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara vs. Long Beach State (8-19, 6-7)
at UCSB's Thunderdome (6,000)
Series record vs. the 49ers - 44-20
Streak - Won 2
Last time out vs. the 49ers - W, 70-43 @ LBSU (12/30/10)
Game broadcast streaming live online by clicking here and on AM 990 KTMS
Live stats available via Gametracker
Live video available through BigWest.TV

Saturday, February 26, 2011, at 2:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara vs. Cal State Northridge (4-22, 4-9)
at UCSB's Thunderdome (6,000)
Series record vs. the Matadors - 35-11
Streak - Won 8
Last time out vs. the Matadors - W, 71-48 @ CSUN (1/29/11)
Game broadcast streaming live online by clicking here and on AM 990 KTMS
Live stats available via Gametracker
Live video available through BigWest.TV

• New Legend Unveiled
In Thursday's game, UCSB Athletics will unveil the newest Legend of the 'Dome at halftime. For more information on the Legends of the 'Dome, please click here.

• On The Radio
All UC Santa Barbara basketball games are broadcast live in Santa Barbara on AM 990 KTMS and will stream live online by clicking here. Josh Suchon is the voice of the Gauchos, performing the play-by-play, while former Los Angeles Lakers and UCSB star Don Ford will handle the color commentary. On select road games, much to the chagrin of the listening audience, yours truly, Matt Hurst, will provide color commentary.

The Opponents

• vs. Long Beach State, 2/24
The Gauchos defeated Long Beach, 70-43 in the first meeting this season on Dec. 30. That dropped the 49ers to 2-12 at the time. Since then, LBSU has been one of the hottest conference teams. Long Beach State has won five of seven and is led by Brandi Henton's 14.8 points per game and Courtney Jacob's 14.5 points per game.

• vs. Cal State Northridge, 2/26
Saturday's regular-season finale will have Cal State Northridge, who is currently tied for the eighth and final spot in the Big West. Jasmine Erving leads the Matadors with 15.3 points and 6.9 rebounds per game. CSUN is coached by Jason Flowers, who is in first season with the program.

• Playoff Scenarios
With a victory over Long Beach State on Thursday or a UC Irvine loss (the Anteaters play at Pacific on Thursday evening), UC Santa Barbara will clinch home court advantage in the first round of the Big West Tournament on March 8. In a new format this season the top four teams will host games on that Tuesday before the winning teams advance for the next two rounds of the Big West Tournament at the Honda Center.

• If You're Not First, You're Last
UCSB is just one game behind Cal Poly in the standings with a potential showdown for the regular-season title on the horizon. Cal Poly plays the same teams the Gauchos do this week and the Blue-Green rivals meet on Saturday, March 5 in San Luis Obispo, possibly for first place in the final game of the regular season.

• Four Sure
UC Santa Barbara has equaled its longest winning streak of the season at four games (also accomplished Dec. 5-18). It is tied for the fourth-longest winning streak of Lindsay Gottlieb's tenure at UCSB. The longest came in Gottlieb's first season on the bench when the Gauchos rattled off 10 straight wins.

• Double-Digit Fever
With a chance to win its 10th game of the Big West season this week, the Gauchos could continue their impressive run through the conference. In 19 of the past 20 seasons UCSB has won double-digit conference games. In fact, the Gauchos have finished Big West play above .500 for each of the past 20 seasons.

• Biggest in the Big West
To go along with the above note, the Gauchos have dominated the conference for more than a decade. Since the 1995-96 season, UCSB is 223-30 (.881) in Big West games.

• Valentine's Day
Senior Mekia Valentine notched her second Big West Player of the Week award this season after a pair of stellar performances last week. Valentine, who has 11 double-doubles this season and three in a row, averaged 12.0 points, 16.5 rebounds and 6.0 blocked shots per game last week. The Greensboro, N.C. native also grabbed the Player of the Week award in late November after her triple-double vs. Northern Colorado. It is the second time in three weeks a Gaucho has claimed the award after Emilie Johnson won the award on Feb. 7.

• A Palindrome of Points
Mekia Valentine has scored 280 points this season, giving her 1,001 in her career between Wake Forest and UCSB. Unfortunately she is not a member of UCSB's 1,000-point club as not all of her buckets came as a Gaucho (she scored 351 points at Wake). The next likely member to join the 22-person 1,000-point club is Emilie Johnson, who has scored 977 total points in her Gaucho career.

• Double Dippers
Mekia Valentine is averaging 10.7 rebounds per game, giving her the chance to become the first Gaucho since Erika Kienast in 1991-92 to average double figures in rebounds. But let's not stop there. Valentine has the chance to become the first UCSB player since Kienast in that season to average a double-double over a season. Valentine is scoring 10.7 points per game, second-most on the team.

• Blocking Through the Big West
Mekia Valentine's career block total of 220 swats moved her into ninth place in Big West history. Valentine had recorded 100 total blocks this year, becoming just the fifth Big West player to post two 100-block seasons in conference history.

• Mekia's Block Party
Mekia Valentine leads the Big West with her 3.85 blocked shots per game and ranks third in the nation. Valentine is second all-time in career blocked shots and became just the second Gaucho to reach 200 career blocked shots. Currently, her 100 blocks this season are second-most in school single-season history (behind her 120 set last year). Valentine trails only Lindsay Taylor (2000-04) by 23 swats for the most all-time in school history.

• Swat Team
This year's Gaucho squad has blocked 130 shots, already placing them fourth all-time in school history. As a team, the Gauchos are averaging 5.0 blocked shots per game, the best mark among Big West schools - UC Riverside is next with 4.64 per game - and 21st in the nation. Last season UCSB finished sixth in the nation with an average of 6.3 swats per game and set a school record with 202 swats.

• Tenacious D
As a team, UC Santa Barbara is holding opponents to a 35.2% shooting clip, the best mark in the Big West and 22nd-best in the nation. UCSB is also allowing teams to score just 58.4 points per game, which is the lowest in the Big West and 77th in the country. In 12 of the Gauchos' games, the team has held an opponent under 35% from the floor.

• Gottlieb's Legacy: Defense
The fact that the Gauchos are one of the nation's preeminent defensive teams shouldn't be a shock because UCSB has been among the nation's best in the Lindsay Gottlieb era. In each of the past two seasons, UCSB has led the Big West in opponent's field goal percentage. Last season the squad ranked 31st in the nation with its 36.3% and in 2008-09 UCSB ranked eighth in the country with a 34.6% clip.

• The Heat Will Rock You
UC Santa Barbara leads the Big West in field goal percentage with a 42.9% clip. What's interesting about that is the Gauchos were at the bottom of the conference earlier this season with a 35.0% overall shooting percentage. UCSB's current field goal percentage ranks the team 42nd in the nation.

• So You Know ...
The last time a Gaucho squad led the Big West in both field goal percentage and field goal percentage defense was the 2003-04 squad which hit 46.0% of its shots and limited opponents to a 35.9% shooting clip.

• We're a Boarding School
Santa Barbara is averaging a conference-leading 40.5 rebounds per game, which leads the Big West. The Gauchos hold a +5.0 rebounding margin, which also is tops among conference schools and 46th in the nation. It's largely due to Mekia Valentine and Sweets Underwood, who rank first and fourth, respectively, in the Big West with averages of 10.7 rebounds and 7.1 rebounds per game.

• RPI Report
In the most recent release of the Ratings Percentage Index by the NCAA, the Gauchos are first amongst Big West schools with a 111 RPI ranking. Followed closely behind is UC Riverside (No. 117) and UC Davis (No. 121). Long Beach State has a RPI of 302 and Cal State Northridge stands at 312.

• Sixty is Nifty
When scoring at least 60 points, the Gauchos are 15-3 this season.

The Lindsay Gottlieb File
Lindsay Gottlieb is in her third season as the Gauchos' head coach, and she is just the fourth head coach in UCSB women's basketball history. Last season Gottlieb guided the Gauchos to wins in seven of the squad's last eight games, taking a team that finished 9-7 in the Big West to the conference tournament's semifinals, keeping alive a streak of 20 years that UCSB had finished Big West play with a record above .500. In her first season at the helm, Gottlieb led the team to a 22-10 overall mark (15-1 in the Big West) and the Big West regular-season and tournament championships. Named the Big West Coach of the Year, Gottlieb became the first coach in Gaucho history to win at least 20 games and the Coach of the Year award in her first season - and one of only seven coaches nationwide to do so. Gottlieb led the Gauchos to their 14th consecutive postseason appearance and the team won 20 games for the 12th time in the past 14 years. In her first two seasons with the program, Gottlieb has guided the Gauchos to national prominence, leading the conference in field goal percentage defense both years while having her team set a school record in free throw percentage (08-09) and blocked shots in a season (09-10).. No stranger to success, Gottlieb was formerly the associate head coach at Cal, helping the team to a 68-28 (.708) overall mark in her time there. Prior to that, Gottlieb was an assistant at the University of Richmond, where she helped the Spiders to three straight 20-win seasons.

The Gaucho Fund, launched as part of the Dare to Be Great strategic plan, is UCSB Athletics' annual giving program to provide vital funding support for scholarships, academic success and leadership development for Gaucho student-athletes. The Gaucho Fund is the anchor to the Dare to Be Great campaign.

GKids is the official kids club of UCSB Athletics. Members receive a free GKids t-shirt, free admittance to tons of Gaucho games, opportunities to be ball boys and girls at games, a special birthday greeting from Olie (the GKids mascot) and much, much more! For more information on GKids, or to become a member, please click here.

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