UCSB Set to Host Long Beach St, UC Irvine in Final Homestand

UCSB Set to Host Long Beach St, UC Irvine in Final Homestand

Game 29
Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 3 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara (13-15, 9-7 Big West) vs. Long Beach State (15-13, 8-8 Big West)
All-time record vs. 49ers: 47-22
Last meeting: L, 52-45 (Jan. 5, 2013)
Streak: Loss 1
Online Audio • Video • Live Stats

Game 30
Saturday, March 9, 2013 at 2 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara vs. UC Irvine (9-19, 5-11 Big West)
All-time record vs. Highlanders: 58-26
Last meeting: W, 51-46 (Jan. 3, 2013)
Streak: Won 2
Online Audio • Video • Live Stats

• Gauchos Prepare for Final Homestand
UC Santa Barbara will look to clinch a first-round bye in the upcoming Big West Tournament with matchups against Long Beach State on Thursday at 3 pm and UC Irvine on Saturday at 2 pm. Both games will air live in Santa Barbara on KZSB 1290 AM, the Santa Barbara News-Press radio station, and will be available online at UCSBgauchos.com. A live video stream is available at BigWest.tv for the games.

• For The Record
The Gauchos carry a 13-15 overall record into this week's games and are now 9-7 in the Big West Conference.

• The Wild, Wild (Big) West
With only one week left in Big West regular season play, the Gauchos are currently in fourth place. Pacific is on top of the standings with a 13-4 record. Cal Poly is in second at 12-4, while Hawaii is sitting in third with an 11-5 record. Long Beach State is in fifth and has a chance to earn a first round bye if they can win their final two games. UCSB has gone 1-1 earlier this season against their remaing opponents.

• The Last Stand
The Gauchos will return home for the last time this season as they will face Long Beach State and UC Irvine. They won their most recent home game against CSUN on Feb. 23 by a margin of 66-55. Overall, UCSB has gone 4-8 on their home floor and have not put together back-to-back wins at the Thunderdome this season.

• Facing the 49ers
Long Beach enters this week as the 5th place team in the Big West. The 49ers have gone 6-8 since defeating the Gauchos on Jan. 5. Long Beach just ended a two-game losing streak with a 66-54 win over UC Davis. The 49ers carry a 3-8 road record going into this Thursday's game. Long Beach is led by Alex Sanchez, who averages 10.8 points and 4.2 assists per game.

• Last Time vs. Long Beach
The last time the Gauchos and the 49ers met, UCSB lost at the Pyramid 52-45. Despite the loss, Nicole Nesbit led the floor with 15 points. She was followed by Sweets Underwood who had 12 points and 12 rebounds for her 5th double-double of the season. Alex Sanchez led the 49ers with 12 points and a pair of steals.

• Against the Anteaters
The Anteaters are entering the last week of the season on a two-game losing streak and are tied for 8th place with Fullerton. Since falling to the Gauchos on Jan. 3, Irvine won just five of their last fifteen games. The Anteaters was swept in their final two home games after losing to both UC Davis (47-43) and Pacific (65-53). Camille Buckley paces the squad and almost averages a double-double with 11.5 points and 9.8 rebounds per game.

• Last Time vs. Irvine
During their Jan. 3 meeting, UCSB opened up Big West play with a 51-46 victory at the Bren Events Center. Three Gauchos scored in double-digit figures that night, including Nicole Nesbit who led the game with 14 points. Sweets Underwood and Melissa Zornig both scored 11 points. Despite a combined total of 80 minutes from Irvine's bench players, the Gauchos' defense only allowed three points from the Anteaters' reserves. Irvine was led by Camille Buckley who recorded a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Jennifer Tsurumoto also had 11 points, while Kelly Meggs scored 10.

• In Our Defense
For the second consecutive season, the Gauchos are pacing the league by limiting their opposition to a conference-low 53.3 points per game – which ranks 25th nationally – and is 6.8 points fewer than second-ranked Pacific and Hawaii. In league play, the Gauchos are holding opponents to 50.9 points on average, 6.1 points fewer than second place Hawai'i.

• Where We Rank
In addition to ranking among the nation's top-100 teams in scoring defense, the Gauchos are 33rd in free-throw percentage (74.9%), 82nd in three-point field goal defense (28.4%), 58th in field-goal percentage defense (36.4%) and 80th in turnovers per game (15.5).

• Nesbit Leading the Way
Junior Nicole Nesbit led the Gauchos in points last week by scoring 12 at Fullerton and matching a career-high of 20 points in Riverside. The guard is also netting 11.3 points per game in Big West play, which is second on the team only to Sweets Underwood's 12.3 average. She ranks second in the Big West in free-throw shooting (86%) and is 26th nationally having sank 80-of-93 attempts this season. She also leads the Gauchos with 2.8 assists per game.

• The Board Game
The Gauchos are tied with Hawaii for tops in the league in rebounding defense as they have limited their opposition to a league-low 32.7 rebounds per game and their 69.2% defensive rebounding percentage is also second in the league behind the Rainbow Wahine (69.9%). UCSB has two players ranked in the conference top-10 in boards with Sweets Underwood ranking fourth (9.2 per game) and Kirsten Tilleman ranking ninth (7.0).

• Living The Sweets Life
Sweets Underwood continues to lead the Gauchos with an average of 11.9 points per game, which ranks 9th in the Big West. She also boasts a team-leading 48.9% field goal percentage, which is the fourth-best among league players. At her current clip, Underwood will become the first Gaucho to lead the team in points, rebounds and field goal percentage since Jenna Green did in 2006-07. The senior recorded her 11th double-double of the season against Cal State Northridge. She scored 19 points and had a career-high 20 rebounds.

• The Class of 2014
Juniors Nicole Nesbit and Melissa Zornig are second and third on the team, respectively, in points per game. Nesbit is averaging 10.3 points, while Zornig is averaging 8.6 points and leads the team in three-point shooting (33%).

• The Mitchell File
Head coach Carlene Mitchell is looking to build upon a great ending to her first season at the helm of the Gauchos – which included a Big West Tournament title and NCAA Tournament berth – in 2012-13. In addition to compiling a 17-16 record in her first campaign, she was also named one of three finalists for the Spalding Maggie Dixon Division I Rookie Coach of the Year award, which is presented by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association. Her career record with the Gauchos currently stands at 28-29.

• On The Horizon
Following this week's pair of home games, the Gauchos will look to defend their Big West Crown starting at the Bren Events Center, the same place UCSB started their post-season run last year.