UCSB Opens Big West Tournament on Wednesday

UCSB Opens Big West Tournament on Wednesday

March 10, 2010

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• The Schedule
Wednesday, March 10, 2010 at 12:00 p.m.
No. 5 UC Santa Barbara (13-16)
vs. No. 8 Pacific (6-22)
at Anaheim Convention Center (7,500)
Series record vs. the Tigers - 49-14
Streak - Won 2
Last time out vs. the Tigers - W, 71-34 (2/4/10)
Game available on Gametracker
Broadcast live at 11:30 a.m. on AM 1490 and streaming online by clicking here.

• Follow the Gauchos and Their March to Madness
New this year, UCSB Athletics is making it easier than ever for fans to follow both the men's and women's basketball teams. Aside from live streaming audio of all the men's and women's games, fans can get in-game updates through our Twitter page at twitter.com/UCSBgauchos. Get highlight videos and behind-the-scenes looks of both teams through our our YouTube page at youtube.com/UCSBGauchosAthletics. And, be sure to join our growing legion of fans at facebook.com/UCSBAthletics. Also be sure to add Olé as a friend by searching "Olé Gaucho" on Facebook.

• Listen To All UCSB Games On AM-990 KTMS
All women's basketball games are broadcast live on AM 990 again this year, and those games will also be available online, by clicking here.. And, UCSB Athletics is proud to announce that the baseball team will have over 20 games broadcast live on the air and through our website, UCSBgauchos.com.

• The Seed 2.0
As the No. 5 seed in the Big West Tournament, UCSB has its lowest seed in the annual tournament since drawing the sixth seed in 1990. The last time UCSB was not either the first or second seeded team was when the Gauchos were the No. 4 seed in 1994. The last time a team seeded lower than third won the tournament came when No. 4 UC Riverside beat UCSB in 2006. That, however, is the lowest-seeded team to win the conference tournament which began in 1984. See chart, on page 3 of these notes, for every Gaucho seed in the Big West Tournament.

• Four Sure
UCSB is facing a tough test as it enters the Big West Tournament, needing to win four games in four days, something that no UCSB team has ever done. In fact the Gauchos have not needed to even play three games in the tournament since the conference added byes to the seedings beginning in the 2004 season.

• 20/20 Vision
By finishing the conference season 9-7 it marked the 20th consecutive season that the Gauchos have finished with a winning conference record. To put that in perspective, only 10 of the current Gauchos (redshirts included) were alive when the streak began.

• Super Soph
Sophomore guard Emilie Johnson finished the season as the team's leading scorer becoming the first sophomore to lead Santa Barbara in scoring since Jenna Green did so in the 2005-06 season.

• Leading Lady
Sophomore point guard Emilie Johnson leads the Gauchos with her 13.9 points per game average while also pacing the team in assists (96; 3.3 per game) and steals (51; 1.8 per game). The Loomis, Calif. native led the team in scoring in 11 games this year, including four of the past five games during the Gauchos' current winning streak. Johnson is the second player in as many years to lead the Gauchos in those categories after Lauren Pedersen did so last year. Pedersen, however, was the first UCSB player to accomplish the feat since Iesha Smith in 1993-94.

Quick Facts

• UCSB is allowing opponents to shoot just 36.5% from the floor, which is the lowest mark in the Big West and the 42nd best mark in the nation. UCSB is allowing just 61.1 points per game, second in the conference. Last season the Gauchos allowed opponents to shoot just 34.4% from the field, which also led the Big West.

Emilie Johnson leads the Big West with 1,076 minutes played for an average of 37.1 minutes per game. She has played 40 or more minutes 10 times this season, played all 50 minutes of a double overtime road game against Cal State Fullerton and has played in 91.6% of UC Santa Barbara's 1,175 minutes this season. Teammate Meagan Williams ranks second in the Big West with an average of 34.6 minutes per game. The duo are the only two Big West players to log over 1,000 minutes this season.

• UCSB's 16 losses this year marks the most defeats by a Gaucho team since the 1988-89 season when Santa Barbara went 9-19. UCSB will need to win all four games of the Big West Tournament to avoid finishing with a losing record for the first time since going 13-15 in the 1989-90 season.

• Valentine's Day
Junior Mekia Valentine finished the season with 106 blocked shots, an average of 3.9 per game. Valentine is just the 11th player in Big West history to reach triple digits in blocks and the first since Long Beach State's Rhonda Smith achieved the feat in 1999-00. Already the school's single-season record holder in the category, Valentine ranks fifth all-time in career blocks at UCSB. Susie Matthews (1990-92) is fourth with 141. Valentine, who hails from Greensboro, N.C., is third nationally with her average of 3.9 blocks per game.

• More Mekia
Not only did Valentine set a school record for blocked shots, she also became the first Gaucho to lead the Big West in rebounds - at 9.1 per game - since Brandy Richardson did so in the 2003 season. Valentine also led the conference with her 56.4% shooting percentage. Valentine finished the regular season with nine double-doubles, the most by a UCSB player since Kristen Mann had 14 in the 2004-05 season.

• Swat Team
The 2009-10 Gauchos already own the school record with 183 blocked shots, besting the previous mark of 140 set in 2003-04. UCSB ranks seventh in the nation with its average of 6.3 blocks per game.

• Highs and Lows
During UCSB's current five-game winning streak, the Gauchos have reversed some of their season-long trends. UCSB has scored its top two point totals of the season and had its lowest turnover output of the year. Although UCSB ranks last in the Big West in points per game (60.0) and has the second-most turnovers (698, 20.6 per game) in the conference, the team is averaging 68.8 points per game and just 16.4 turnovers per game.

• We're a Boarding School
With a +5.3 rebound margin - ranking 34th in the nation - UCSB leads the Big West (Cal Poly's +4.1 is the only other school with a positive rebounding differential) and the Gauchos finished an even better +7.1 differential in conference play - best in the conference. UCSB has equaled or outrebounded its opponent in 20 of the team's 29 games and brings in an average of 39.9 boards per contest.

• Meagan A Difference
Meagan Williams, who finished the season third on the team with her 11.0 points per game average, led the Gauchos with her 3.6 assists per game in conference play. The Sacramento native is averaging 4.3 assists per game over her past seven contests while averaging 11.8 points per game in that span. She hit double figures in 15 games this season, surpassing her previous total of six combined during her previous three seasons.

• Hustle and Flow
Senior Ariana Gnekow won the program's first-ever Hustle Award, a Specialty Award handed out by the conference based on the voting of Big West players. Gnekow finished second on the team with her 4.8 rebounds per game (and 5.2 during conference play) and posted her best performance as a Gaucho in the regular-season finale with career-highs of 13 points and 13 rebounds.

• Sharp Shooting Spencer
Senior Chris Spencer led the team with her 45.9% mark from beyond the arc. Over her past five games, the Traverse City, Mich. native is averaging 9.8 points and 5.2 rebounds per game.

• The Lindsay Gottlieb File
Lindsay Gottlieb is in her second 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 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 season at the helm of the program, Gottlieb guided the Gauchos to national prominence, ranking in the top-10 in field goal percentage defense, a top-20 finish in points allowed per game while watching her team set a school record for free throw percentage. 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.

• Talk'n Gauchos
UCSB Athletics has a new weekly radio show called Talk'n Gauchos which airs every Tuesday from 6-7 p.m. on AM 1490 KIST. The show is broadcast live from State & A Bar and Grill, located on the corner of State Street and Anapamu Street in Santa Barbara. Fans are encouraged to attend the show for free gear and ticket giveaways or to even e-mail a question in to one of the guests and have it read live over the air. The show also airs live online via audio streaming and fans can click here to check out the entire lineup of live audio streaming online.

Probable Starters

No. Name Pos Quick Notes
10 Emilie Johnson G Second Team All-Big West pick
12 Ariana Gnekow G Career-highs 13 pts, 13 reb @ Bakersfield
14 Jordan Franey F 6.9 points per game ranks 4th on the team
21 Meagan Williams G All-Big West Honorable Mention selection
44 Mekia Valentine C Second Team All-Big West pick

Possible Reserves

0 Bree Richardson G Missed final 12 games w. foot fracture
1 Sweets Underwood F All-Big West Freshman Team pick
3 Megan Kritscher F/C Avg. 1.4 pts, 1.4 reb per game this year
11 Stefanie Corgel G Has seen action in 4 of past 5 games
22 Chris Spencer G Led team with 45.9% 3-point pct.
25 Jessie Goble F/C Had 1 block in 1 minute vs. Cal Poly
32 Margaret Johnson F Career-high 28 assists this season