March 15, 2011

Gauchos Play at USC on Thursday in WNIT

March 15, 2011

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• The Schedule
Thursday, March 17, 2011, at 7:00 p.m.
WNIT First Round
UC Santa Barbara at USC (19-12)
at USC's Galen Center (10,258)
Series record vs. the Trojans - 11-13
Streak - Lost 1
Last time out vs. the Trojans - L, 62-53 @ USC (11/30/08)
Game broadcast streaming live online by clicking here and on AM 990 KTMS

Friday-Monday, March 19-21, 2011
WNIT Second Round (if necessary)
UC Santa Barbara vs. St. Mary's/Nevada winner
at site to be determined
Game broadcast streaming live online by clicking here and on AM 990 KTMS

• Get to the Galen!
Tickets are available to Thursday's WNIT game either by calling (213) 740-4672 or online by clicking here. Tickets are $5 for adults, $4 for seniors and children and anyone under three years-old is free. Court side seats are $10.

• 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.

• Playing in the Postseason
UC Santa Barbara will be making its 14th postseason appearance in the past 15 years and will be playing in its 16th overall postseason. The Gauchos are 11-16 all-time in postseason play, spanning the NCAA Tournament and the WNIT.

• NIT Picking
The Gauchos are making their fourth postseason WNIT appearance in program history. Santa Barbara is 3-3 all-time in WNIT postseason play.

• Early Exit
UCSB was seeded second in the Big West Tournament, earning a home game on Tuesday, March 8 vs. No. 7 seed Pacific. However, the Gauchos were upset by the Tigers and failed to advance past the first round for the first time since 1996. It was also Pacific's first win at the Thunderdome in 24 years.

• A History of Winning
UC Santa Barbara earned its 14th Big West title by virtue of a tie after defeating Cal Poly on March 5. It is the third time in the past four years that the Gauchos have won the conference title and the 13th time in the last 15 seasons.

• Eyeing 20
With a victory over USC on Thursday, it will assure UCSB of a 20-win season. UCSB has 13 20-win seasons in its history, including a stretch of 10 in a row from the 1995-96 season to the 2004-05 campaign.

• All-Big West Honors
Four Gauchos were honored by the Big West on Monday as Emilie Johnson was named a First Team All-Big West selection; Mekia Valentine was a Second Team All-Big West pick and the conference's Defensive Player of the Year; Sweets Underwood was named an Honorable Mention selection; and Nicole Nesbit was named to the All-Big West Freshman Team.

• 20/20 Vision
With a career-high 27 points and a season-best 20 rebounds vs. Cal Poly on March 5 Mekia Valentine was named the Big West's Player of the Week, the second time in three weeks that the senior has claimed the prize. Her 20-20 game was the second in her career and the fourth in school history. Valentine also grabbed 20 boards for the third time as a Gaucho, marking the ninth 20 rebound effort in UCSB history.

• Double-Digit Delight
UCSB guaranteed its 20th season, in the last 21, that it will finish Big West play with double-digit victories and the 21st straight season it finished above .500 in the conference.

• Annual Event
While the Gauchos' seven-game winning streak did come to an end with the loss to Pacific, it shouldn't come to a surprise that UCSB is playing its best basketball at the end of the season. Last season UCSB went on a seven-game winning streak from February 20 to March 11. Two seasons ago, the Gauchos had a five-game winning streak from February 28 to March 14.

• Leading Lady
Emilie Johnson, whose 13.6 points per game lead the team, also paces the Gauchos in total points (408), assists (96) and is second on the team in steals (31 to Kelsey Adrian's 33). Johnson has the chance to lead the team in those three categories two straight seasons, which would be the third year in a row after Lauren Pedersen did it in the 2008-09 season.

• Points Aplenty
Emilie Johnson became the 23rd member of UCSB's 1,000-point club in the first half of the Feb. 26 win over Cal State Northridge and has already moved into 20th place on the list, surpassing Lori Sanchez (1979-83), Mary Ann McLaughlin (1976-79) and Nicole Greathouse (1997-2001). Mekia Valentine has scored 334 points this season, giving her 1,055 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).

• Double Dippers
Mekia Valentine is averaging 11.0 rebounds per game - first in the Big West and 14th in the nation - assuring her of becoming the first Gaucho since Erika Kienast in 1991-92 to average double figures in rebounds. Valentine also the chance to become the first UCSB player since Kienast in that season to average a double-double over a season. Valentine is scoring 11.1 points per game, second-most on the team.

• Dynamic Duo
While Emilie Johnson and Mekia Valentine are two of the most potent scorers in the Big West - averaging 24.7 points between them - right now they need to pour in a lot more points to crack the school's top-10 all-time one-two punches. Johnson and Valentine have 742 points between them while the No. 10 duo of Patty Franklin and Nadine Ramirez (1980-81) is 163 points ahead of them.

• Tickling the Twine
Mekia Valentine leads the Big West with her shooting percentage of 62.9%, which would easily be the best mark in school history. Right now Kira Anthofer's school record shooting percentage of 59.6% came in 1985-86 and Valentine shot 57.4% last season. Her current career shooting mark of 59.9% would be the best mark in UCSB history, topping Lindsay Taylor's (2000-04) current record of 55.9%. Valentine, however is just shy of qualifying for a national ranking because she is averaging 4.6 baskets per game and the NCAA rankings require a minimum of 5.0 made per game.

• Mekia's Block Party
Mekia Valentine leads the Big West with her 3.7 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 111 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 12 swats for the most all-time in school history. Her career block total of 231 swats moved her into seventh place in Big West history. Valentine is just the fifth Big West player to post two 100-block seasons in conference history.

• Swat Team
This year's Gaucho squad has blocked 147 shots, the second-highest mark all-time in school history. As a team, the Gauchos are averaging 4.9 blocked shots per game, the best mark among Big West schools and 22nd 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.

• Three Dot Lounge
As a team, UC Santa Barbara is holding opponents to a 35.4% shooting clip, the best mark in the Big West and 20th-best in the nation ... UC Santa Barbara leads the Big West in field goal percentage with a 43.2% clip, ranking the team 36th in the nation ... 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 ... UCSB leads the conference with 40.2 rebounds per game and are tops with a +4.9 rebounding margin ... When scoring at least 60 points, the Gauchos are 18-3 this season ... UCSB's RPI is 122 while USC's is 44.

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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