UCSB Hosts Third-Ranked Maryland Friday
Nov. 21, 2007
Game No. 5
Friday, November 23, 2007 at 7:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. No. 3 Maryland Terrapins
The Thunderdome (6,000)
After splitting two games during its first road trip of the season last weekend, the UC Santa Barbara women's basketball team returns home for a brief one-game stop Friday night in the Thunderdome. The Gauchos will square off with a second ranked opponent in a three-game span when No. 3 Maryland comes to town. Tip-off for UCSB's clash with the undefeated Terrapins is set for 7:00 p.m. Santa Barbara will then hit the road again for three straight beginning with Santa Clara November 29 at 7:00 p.m.
For the Record
UCSB went 1-1 for the second week in a row and enters Friday's contest with Maryland with an overall record of 2-2. The Gauchos have been excellent in bounce back games so far this season, following each of their two losses with a victory. Santa Barbara was 19-14 overall in 2006-07 and finished second in the Big West Conference standings for the first time in 12 years at 10-4.
Gauchos on the Air & Web
Friday's contest with the Terps, along with every other UCSB women's basketball game in 2007-08, will be broadcast live on KIST 1340 AM in Santa Barbara. Steve "Showtime" Wendt is back for his fourth season as the play-by-play voice of the Gauchos and former UCSB and Los Angeles Lakers star Don "She's Not On The Roster" Ford will handle most of the color commentary duties this season. UCSB's student radio station will also have Santa Barbara's tilt with Maryland live and their broadcast can be heard online at www.kcsb.org. Fans can also 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.
ASU Proves To Be Too Tall An Order
Hitting the road for the first time in 2007-08, Santa Barbara struggled against No. 14 Arizona State last Saturday and lost a 66-42 decision in Tempe. The Gauchos played a very talented Sun Devil squad close early, pulling within six at 21-15 with 6:13 remaining in the first half, but ASU used a 13-0 run late in the period to build a 37-19 halftime lead. UCSB could climb no closer than 20 points in the second stanza and went on to lose by its biggest margin of the young season. The Gauchos finished 36% (18-for-50) for the game, while ASU went 25-of-57, 43.9%. Arizona State held a commanding 46-26 rebounding advantage and grabbed 19 boards on the offensive glass. The one bright spot for UCSB was the fact that Jenna Green returned to the lineup and looked good in her debut, finishing with 12 points, three rebounds, and three blocks. She was the only Gaucho to score in double figures.
Gauchos Respond At LMU
Trying to avoid falling to 1-3 entering Friday's contest with Maryland, UCSB was in need of a win at Loyola Marymount Monday night and got it, turning in its best overall performance of the season in a 79-69 come-from-behind victory. After shooting a dreadful 28% in the first half against Arizona State, UCSB connected on 5-of-8 to start the game Monday and shot 57.7% overall in the first half to take a 37-28 lead into the locker room at intermission. The Lions came out in a zone defensively in the second half and outscord the Gauchos 12-2 over the first 3:48 to take their first lead at 40-39. LMU's advantage reached 11 points (58-47) at one point, but Santa Barbara took over from there, scoring 11 straight points to tie the game at 58-58. UCSB took a 67-64 lead with 2:03 left on the clock and then outscored Loyola Marymount 12-5 over the final 1:35 to finish off the victory. The Gauchos shot a season-best 47.4% (27-57) for the game and knocked down 15 of their 19 free-throws in the second half to fuel the comeback. Santa Barbara edged LMU on the glass, 40-39 and scored 16 second-chance points on 15 offensive rebounds.
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 417-194 (.682) while at UCSB and an overall mark of 515-308 (.626). 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.
Not A Bad Start
While the Gaucho coaching staff would certainly prefer to have three or four wins at this point in the season, the team's record of 2-2 is very manageable, especially considering UCSB's start a year ago. In 2006-07, Santa Barbara did not win its second game until December 4 -- a 51-49 win at Richmond -- and started just 1-5 in its first six games. The Gauchos opened the season with an impressive 88-73 win over Portland State in the Thunderdome but then lost five straight by an average of 19.8 points per game. Considering the fact that Santa Barbara was without its leading scorer and rebounder for the first two games this season and that the Gauchos have already seen a Top 15 opponent on the road, life at .500 is not so bad after all...for now, anyway.
As a coach you always want to see your team getting better and the Gauchos have done that so far this season. UCSB's shooting percentage from the field has improved in each of its four games, beginning with a forgettable 30.5% against BYU and rising all the way to a season-best 47.4% in the win at Loyola Marymount Monday night. For the record, the Gauchos have shot 30.5% (18-59), 34.3% (24-70), 36% (18-50), and 47.4% (27-57) against BYU, USC, Arizona State, and Loyola Marymount, respectively. Monday's performance was driven by a very impressive first half in which Santa Barbara made 15 of its 26 shots, 57.7%, which was an excellent sign considering the Gauchos had shot 27.6%, 25%, and 28% in the opening periods of their first three games. Not surprisingly, Santa Barbara also converted a season-high 27 field goals in the win over the Lions.
Probable Starters - Notes
G - Sha'Rae Gibbons - Scored a career-best 19 points for the second time this season at LMU.
G - Chisa Ononiwu - Hit 3-of-4 from downtown and scored a season high 17 points Monday.
G - Jessica Wilson - Averaging 10 points, 6 rebounds, 2.8 assists through four games.
F- Whitney Warren - Returned to starting lineup vs. Lions after coming off bench in previous two.
C - Jenna Green - Tallied 14 points, 12 rebounds, and 5 blocks in win over LMU.
Probable Reserves - Notes
G - Lauren Pedersen - Went 2-for-4 for 4 points, 2 assists, and 2 steals at Arizona State.
G - Ariana Gnekow - Leads the Gauchos shooting .571 from the field this season.
G - Meagan Williams - Scored season-high 4 points with 2 assists against Lions.
F - Kat Suderman - Averaged just 8.5 minutes last week with Green's return to the lineup.
F - Jordan Franey - Was 3-for-6 for 6 points and hauled in 3 rebounds in loss to Sun Devils.
F- Ashlee Brown - Leads UCSB's freshmen averaging 2.8 points per game.
F - Margaret Johnson - Collected 3 rebounds in 4 minutes against ASU.
C - Jessie Goble - Went 2-for-2 and scored a career-high 4 points against USC November 11.
Scouting the Terrapins
Things don't exactly get easier for the Gauchos this week as they welcome third-ranked Maryland to town the day after Thanksgiving. Friday's contest marks the third meeting between the two schools with each program posting a win in the all-time series. UCSB and Maryland met last season with the defending national champion Terps posting a convincing 105-44 victory at the Comcast Center on December 2. The 61-point loss was Santa Barbara's worst since dropping a 115-50 decision at Long Beach State February 12, 1987 and was the program's sixth-largest margin of defeat all-time. The Gauchos defeated the Terrapins 68-52 in the first game of the Praire Lights Classic in Iowa City, Iowa to open the 1995-96 season.
Maryland returns eight letterwinners and four starters from last year's team that finished with an overall record of 28-6 and took third in the ACC standings at 10-4. The Terps were awarded a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament for a second consecutive year and defeated Harvard 89-65 in the first round before falling to Mississippi 89-78 in the second. Maryland finished the season with a No. 6 final national ranking in the AP Top 25.
Ranked No. 3 in both the USA Today/ESPN coaches poll and the AP Top 25 this week, the Terrapins come to Santa Barbara with a perfect record of 6-0 after routing Loyola 98-50 on Tuesday night. Through six games this season, Maryland is averaging 81.8 points per game and has outscored the opposition by an average of 26.5. Four Terps are averaging double figure points entering Friday's game, with 2006-07 Third Team All-ACC selection Kristi Toliver leading the way at 19 points per game. The junior guard is shooting 57.5% from the field and is averaging a team-high 8.7 assists per game. Third year forward Marissa Coleman is second averaging 13.5 points and is also the team's second-leading rebounder at 7.8 boards per game. Coleman was an Honorable Mention AP All-American last season. Senior forward Laura Harper is averaging 13.3 points and 7.2 rebounds.
After missing UCSB's first two games this season with a back injury, Jenna Green returned to the lineup last week and you would have never known she was out at all. The San Jose, Calif. was 4-for-8 from the floor and finished with a team-high 12 points in the Gauchos' 66-42 loss to Arizona State. She also grabbed three rebounds and recorded three blocks and two steals in a total of 23 minutes. The 6-foot-4 center was even better Monday, tallying 14 points, 12 rebounds, five blocks, and two steals to lead Santa Barbara to an impressive win over Loyola Marymount. The performance marked Green's 11th-career double-double and the five blocks were one shy of her career mark of six that came at Cal Poly January 6, 2007. The two-time All-Big West First Team selection was named preseason all-conference again before the start of the season after leading the Gauchos in scoring, rebounding, and blocked shots for the second consecutive year, posting averages of 16.6 points, 7.1 boards, and 1.7 blocks, respectively. Green also led the Big West shooting 53.7% from the field in 2006-07. She was the only player to start all 33 games for UCSB last season.
Here To Stay
The Gauchos' two wins this season have several things in common, but the most surprising thing would have to be the fact that Sha'Rae Gibbons has scored a career-high in both of them. Entering her senior season with a career average of 1.2 points per game, Gibbons has been a pleasant surprise so far, averaging 12.8 points through four games. The Sacramento, Calif. native has had a huge hand in UCSB's victories, leading the team with 19 points in each contest. After finishing 6-for-7 from the floor against USC November 11, Gibbons made six of 10 shots against Loyola Marymount and hit two of her five three-point attempts. She also tallied four rebounds and dished out a team-high three assists. For the second time this season, Gibbons set new career marks in virtually every offensive category, including points, field goals made, field goals attempted, free-throws made, rebounds and minutes played. Gibbons, who started just one game in her career prior to this season, got the starting nod in both contests last week. She was 3-for-9 with seven points in the loss to ASU.
Rounding Into Form
After struggling in the first three games of the season, senior guard Chisa Ononiwu finally found her form against Loyola Marymount on Monday. The native of Houston, Tex. finished 6-for-9 from the floor overall and 3-of-4 from beyond the three-point line and scored 17 points, which was her highest total since tallying 20 against UC Davis February 3 of last season. Ononiwu also grabbed two rebounds and dished out two assists in the 79-69 win over the Lions. The performance came after the transfer from Baylor had made just five of her first 24 shots (20.8%) against BYU, USC, and No. 14 Arizona State and had scored a total of 17 points in UCSB's first three games entering Monday's contest at LMU. Ononiwu had a tremendous impact for Santa Barbara last season after becoming eligible December 18, finishing third behind Jenna Green and Jessica Wilson averaging 11.6 points and 5.0 rebounds per game. She helped guide the Gauchos to a 16-8 record after they went just 3-6 with her on the sidelines.
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 Friday, November 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 entering 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 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.