UCSB Travels to Montana For Lady Griz Holiday Classic

Dec. 26, 2007

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The Schedule
Game No. 10
Friday, December 28, 2007 at 6:00 p.m. PST
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos (4-5) at Montana Lady Griz (8-3)
Dahlberg Arena (7,500)

Game No. 11
Saturday, December 29, 2007 at 6:00 p.m. PST
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos (4-5) vs. Mississippi Rebels (5-5)
Dahlberg Arena (7,500)

Coming Attractions
After 10 days off over the holidays, the UC Santa Barbara women's basketball team returns to action with the Lady Griz Holiday Classic in Missoula, Mont. this weekend. The Gauchos will open the three-day tournament against the host University of Montana on Friday, December 28 with tip-off scheduled for 6:00 p.m. PT (7:00 p.m. MT). UCSB will then take on Mississippi Saturday at the same time in its final non-conference affair before opening Big West play at Long Beach State Thursday, January 3.

For the Record
Playing in the Thunderdome for the first time since November 23, UCSB improved to 4-5 overall in 2007-08 with a 65-63 victory over Pepperdine on December 17. The Gauchos were in desperate need of a win after losing two straight for the first time this season December 6-8 and came up big down the stretch against the Waves. Having played five of its last seven contests away from home, Santa Barbara heads to Montana with a record of 2-2 in true road contests this season and lost its only game played at a neutral site. The Gauchos were 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. Santa Barbara was just 8-9 at home last season.

Gauchos on the Air & Web
Both of the contests in Missoula, along with every other UCSB women's basketball game in 2007-08, will be broadcast live on KIST 1340 AM in Santa Barbara. Steve Wendt is in his fourth season as the play-by-play voice of the Gauchos and he will have the call live from Dahlberg Arena as the Gauchos take on the Lady Grizz and the Rebels. Yours truly will try not to scare away listeners while handling the color commentary duties for both games. Fans can also follow the action live online with real time access to scoreboards, stats, and play-by-play with the GrizTracker feature at at www.montanagrizzlies.com.

UCSB Closes On 9-0 Run To Defeat Pepperdine
Trailing by seven with 1:40 remaining, Santa Barbara scored the game's final nine points and came back to defeat Pepperdine 65-63 in the Thunderdome on December 17. The Waves' Miranda Ayim knocked down two free-throws to give the visitors their largest lead of the second half at 63-56, but it was all UCSB after that. Senior guards Chisa Ononiwu and Jessica Wilson combined to score eight of the Gauchos' nine points during the decisive game-changing run and Ononiwu knocked down the game winning jumper with 4.4 seconds remaining. The Houston, Tex. native also came up with two crucial steals on two of Pepperdine's final three possesions and played key defense on the Wave's Daphanie Kennedy on the final play of the game to preserve the victory. Kat Suderman led the Gauchos with 14 points despite a rough shooting night (5-15 overall), while Ononiwu finished with 10 and Wilson and Meagan Williams eached added nine. UCSB trailed by as many as eight points and Pepperdine held a lead of seven points five different times in the second half.

Another Thriller in the T-Dome
Santa Barbara's last three home games have all come down to the wire and UCSB is 2-1 in those contests. On November 11, the Gauchos used a 16-3 run to come-from-behind and defeat USC 69-63 in overtime to pick up their first victory of 2007-08. On November 23, Santa Barbara battled third-ranked Maryland close for 40 minutes, but came up short of the upset in a 75-71 defeat. Lastly, UCSB stole a victory away from Pepperdine December 17, using a 9-0 run to close the game in the 65-63 win. The Gauchos have made a habit of finishing games strong at home this season.

Probable Starters - Notes
G - Sha'Rae Gibbons - Leads the team with 15 three-pointers made.
G - Jessica Wilson - UCSB's leading rebounder at 5.9 boards per night.
G - Chisa Ononiwu - Scored in double figures in six straight games.
F - Whitney Warren - Started six games for UCSB in 2007-08.
F - Kat Suderman - Led Gauchos with 14 points in win over Pepperdine.

Probable Reserves - Notes
G - Lauren Pedersen - Posted season-highs with 5 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 steals vs. Waves.
G - Meagan Williams - Was 4-for-8 for nine points in 12 minutes against Pepperdine.
G - Ariana Gnekow - Is second on the team shooting 50% (5-10) this season.
F - Ashlee Brown - Tallied 3 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists in the Gauchos' win Dec. 17.
F - Jordan Franey - Hit two 3-pointers and finished with 8 points against Oregon Dec. 8.
F - Margaret Johnson - Scored a career-high 4 points against Portland State Dec. 6.
C - Jessie Goble - Played a career-high 10 minutes against the Waves.

Injury Report - Notes
C - Jenna Green - Will redshirt the rest of the season with back spasms.

Scouting the Lady Griz
• UCSB opens the 2007 Lady Griz Holiday Classic with the Univeristy of Montana Friday night in the first-ever meeting between the two programs. Long time head coach Robin Selvig is in his 29th year at Montana and his squad returns all five starters and a total of 10 letterwinners from the 2006-07 team that finished the season with a very impressive 27-4 overall record and won the Big Sky Conference regular season championship at 15-1.

• The host Lady Griz enter this weekend's tournament with an overall record of 8-3 after defeating Montana-Western 70-37 Wednesday, December 19. Montana has won five straight and seven of its last eight overall and holds a perfect mark of 5-0 in Dahlberg Arena so far in 2007-08. The Lady Griz enter Friday's showdown with Santa Barbara averaging 71.5 points per game, while limiting the opposition to just 59.7. Junior guard Mandy Morales leads two players scoring in double figures at 19.8 points per game but has missed Montana's last six contests with a foot injury. She is expected to play in Friday's game. Sonya Rogers is second averaging 14.5 points per night and is shooting a team-high 53.3% from the field. The junior guard is also extremely dangerous from behind the three-point arc, shooting 50% (28-56) on the season. Forwards Johanna Closson and Britney Lohman are averaging 8.5 and 8.0 points, respectively and Lohman is the team's leading rebounder hauling in 6.3 boards per night. As a team, the Lady Griz shoot at a 42.3% clip from the field and average 42 rebounds per game.

Scouting the Rebels
• After battling Montana, the Gauchos will take on another squad for the first time in program history in the University of Mississippi on Saturday in their final game of the Lady Griz Holiday Classic. First year head coach Renee Ladner has the services of two starters and 11 total letterwinners from last year's team that finished with an overall record of 24-11. Ole Miss finished fifth in the SEC standings a year ago with a conference mark of 9-5. The Rebels, who are just 1-4 away from home this season, will open the three-day event against UCSB before taking on host Montana on Sunday.

• Ole Miss comes to Missoula with an overall record of 5-5 through 10 games after falling to North Carolina State 80-71 on Saturday. After winning two of its first three to start the season, Mississippi has traded wins and losses in its last seven contests. The Rebels average 69.0 points per game, which is slightly higher than their opponent's average of 68.2 per night. Junior center Shawn Goff leads three players in double figures for Ole Miss, averaging 12.7 points per game, while shooting a very impressive 49.1% from the field. Senior forward Carla Bartee is second at 12.0 points per contest and leads the squad pulling down 10.8 rebounds per night. Sophomore guard Shantel Black is averaging a team-high 31.7 minutes per game and is third on the squad in scoring at 10.6 points. Black is also one of Mississippi's top three-point shooter, knocking down triples at 43% clip. As a team, the Rebels are shooting 42.7% from the floor overall in 2007-08 and average 42.9 rebounds per game.

Quick Hits
Just two Gauchos reached double figure points in the win over Pepperdine December 17, marking the first time UCSB found the win column this season when less than three players scored 10 or more...Santa Barbara also defeated the Waves despite shooting just 36.5% from the field, the Gauchos' second lowest mark in a victory this season...UCSB shot 34.3% in the 69-63 overtime victory over USC November 11...The Gauchos are now 1-4 when shooting less than 40% this season...Santa Barbara also posted its first victory of 2007-08 when losing the battle of the glass, surrendering a 41-35 rebounding edge to Pepperdine...Assistant coach Camille Burkes will not make the trip to Montana and will take a medical leave of absence from the team for an undisclosed period of time...Director of Basketball Operations Calamity McEntire has filed a petiton with the NCAA and will assume coaching duties until Coach Burkes returns.

Green To Redshirt Rest of 2007-08 Season
The Gauchos will be without the services of Jenna Green for the rest of 2007-08. On December 20 head coach Mark French announced that the senior center will redshirt the remainder of the season after missing five of UCSB's first nine games with back spasms. Green, who was granted a medical redshirt after tearing the medial collateral ligament in her left knee early in the 2004-05 season, will apply for a sixth year of eligibility from the NCAA after the season in hopes of returning for 2008-09. The two-time All-Big West FIrst Team selection leads Santa Barbara averaging 11.5 points and is second hauling in 4.5 rebounds in four games this season. UCSB is 2-3 without Green in 2007-08.

Suderman Contiunes To Get It Done
With Jenna Green out of the lineup in UCSB's last three games, the bulk of the minutes in the post have gone to Kat Suderman and the junior forward has risen to the occasion. After scoring 14 and 10 points against Portland State and Oregon, respectively, Suderman led the Gauchos with 14 points in the 65-63 come-from-behind win over Pepperdine. The San Luis Obispo, Calif. native finished 5-of-15 from the floor and 4-of-5 at the free-throw line and also hauled in four rebounds in just 16 minutes of action against the Waves. Over the last three games, Suderman is averaging 12.7 points and 5.7 rebounds.

Ononiwu Sparks Comeback Over Pepperdine
Senior guard Chisa Ononiwu was absolutely brilliant down the stretch against Pepperdine, scoring eight of her 10 points in the final 2:24 to lead UCSB to the 65-63 come-from-behind victory December 17. The Houston, Tex. native finished 4-of-8 from the field, hit both of her free-throws, and recorded four rebounds, three assists, two steals, and no turnovers in 19 minutes off the bench. It marked the first time Ononiwu had not been in the starting lineup this season, and she responded with an incredible performance to help the Gauchos snap a two-game skid. Ononiwu has scored in double figures in six straight games and second on the team averaging 11.1 points this season.

Rock-Steady
Jessica Wilson also came off the bench for the first time in 2007-08 against Pepperdine and finished with nine points on 4-of-8 shooting to go with three rebounds and one assist. Through nine games, she leads the team averaging 5.9 rebounds and 2.3 assists per night. Along with Ononiwu, Wilson is second averaging 11.1 points per game and she is also second shooting an very impressive 48.7% from the floor this season.

Wilson Watch
Senior guard Jessica Wilson enters the Lady Griz Holiday Classic just 126 points shy of becoming the 22nd player in program history to score 1,000 points for her career. The Sacramento, Calif native entered the season with 774 career points -- 402 of which came last year -- and has scored a total of 100 through nine games in 2007-08. Wilson is looking to join teammate Jenna Green as a member of the elite 1,000 point club and when she does they will become 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 February 17, 2007 against Cal Poly.

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 October 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 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 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.