SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – The UC Santa Barbara women's basketball team will play 15 regular-season games in the Thunderdome and has a slate of tough road contests highlighting its 2011-12 schedule.
The Gauchos, coming off a Big West regular-season title from last season, return much of their team including All-Big West First Team pick Emilie Johnson, Honorable Mention selection Sweets Underwood, All-Freshman Team choice Nicole Nesbit, as well as starters Kelsey Adrian and Angelei Aguirre.
UCSB hosts a challenging home non-conference schedule with games against St. Mary's (Nov. 17), Washington (Nov. 23), UNLV (Dec. 10) and Pepperdine (Dec. 16) highlighting the slate. The Gauchos also host Loyola Marymount (Nov. 19), USF (Dec. 2) and Cal State Bakersfield (Feb. 11).
"We feel that a tough non-conference schedule will help us get prepared for the rigors of the Big West," first-year head coach Carlene Mitchell said. "I like that some of our toughest non-conference games will be played in the Thunderdome where our great fans can watch us take one some quality opponents."
Santa Barbara will travel to face a tough non-conference schedule beginning with Seattle and Portland State to open the season and will have road games at Northern Colorado, USC, UTEP and New Mexico State. The USC game on Dec. 13 will be a rematch of last season's Women's National Invitational Tournament game that the Trojans won, 67-64, at the Galen Center.
"Road games are always tough, whether they are in conference or not," Mitchell said. "Playing these quality teams at their house will be a good early test for our team."
UCSB opens Big West play on Dec. 31 with a road game at Cal Poly, the team the Gauchos defeated in the regular-season finale last year to capture a share of the conference crown. The Gauchos' first conference home series is Jan. 12 and 14 against UC Irvine and UC Riverside.
Santa Barbara opens the door, unofficially, to the Mitchell Era with a Nov. 1 exhibition game at home vs. Vanguard.
"We have a veteran team and with the addition of three newcomers, we're excited about this season," Mitchell said. "This is a good schedule for us and I know this team cannot wait to take the floor in November."
To see the entire 2011-12 schedule, click here.
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