UCSB to Visit Long Beach St, Hosts CSUN

Schedule
Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014 at 7pm
UC Santa Barbara at Long Beach State (9-7)

at The Walter Pyramid
All-time Record vs. 49ers: 48-22
Last Time: W, 59-50 (3/7/13)
Online Audio: UCSBgauchos.com
Live Stats: UCSBgauchos.com

Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014 at 2pm
UC Santa Barbara vs. Cal State Northridge (5-11)

at The Thunderdome
All-time Record vs. Matadors: 41-12
Last Time: W, 45-31 (3/13/13) BWT Quarterfinals
Radio: KZSB AM 1290
Online Audio: UCSBgauchos.com
Live Stats: UCSBgauchos.com

Week in Review
Last Saturday, the Gauchos opened Big West play at Cal Poly where they fell 88-70. UCSB was led by Destini Mason's career-high 24 points en route to the team's highest scoring performance against their rival since the 2010-11 season when the Gauchos scored 78 points. UCSB has dropped the past six games in the series.

Nesbit Does It
Nicole Nesbit has shown that she is the pulse for the UCSB offense. Not only getting involved scoring buckets, Nesbit has also looked to get her teammates involved as she is averaging a team-high  3.4 assists per game. On defense, the senior leads the team with 20 steals, just 8 shy of her season total last year.

Margin of Victory
The Gauchos know how to grind out close wins. So far this season, the team has beaten their Division I competition by an average of five points. In three of those four victories, UCSB finished the game by scoring at least six points from the free throw line. For the season, the team is second in the Big West with a 74.8 free-throw shooting percentage. 

On Target from Near and Far
The Gauchos are second in the Big West by shooting 41.4 percent from the field this season. UCSB doesn't lose its touch when shooting at the three-point line, as they are tops in the league with a 33.1 shooting percentage from downtown. They also pace the conference by averaging the fewest turnovers with 13.7 per game.       

Zornig Ranks
Aside from being UCSB's third-leading scorer with 13.3 ppg, Melissa Zornig has put up numbers that rank among the nation's best. With her 2.47 assists/turnover ratio, the senior has the 32nd best mark in the NCAA, while her 88.9 free-throw shooting percentage places her in a tie for 22nd in the nation.

Downtown Looks
Against Cal Poly, Destini Mason and Melissa Zornig went 4-5 from beyond the arc, leading the Gauchos to tie a season-high nine three-pointers. For Mason, it was a personal-record setting performance, while that game featured Zornig's best three-point shooting since she drained five against UC Davis last season in the Thunderdome. Nicole Nesbit set a season-best by hitting five treys against San Diego State, while Zornig holds the distinction of having the most games with multiple makes from downtown with six.  

Defense Makes the Difference
The Gauchos are posting their highest scoring average (67.3 ppg) since Carlene Mitchell became the head coach three years ago, but the team's success has relied more on defense than offense. In its five wins, UCSB only allowed its opponents an average of 64.4 ppg, while in its loses, the team gave up an average of 75 ppg. In fact, the Gauchos are 4-1 this season when they have held the opposition to less than 70 points.  

Senior Workload
UCSB's senior class has carried the offense through the first four games. With Nicole Nesbit (17.6), Destini Mason (14), and Melissa Zornig (13.3) all averaging double digits, the senior guards have scored nearly 67 percent of the team's total points. All three are among Big West's top-15 scorers: Nesbit (3rd), Mason (12th), and Zornig (14th). 

Facing the 49ers
Long Beach State finished nonconference play with the best record in the Big West at 8-6. They are coming into this week suffering their first loss of their league schedule in a 63-60 decision at UC Davis. They are led by Alex Sanchez who averages 11.3 points and 3 assists per game, while shooting 46.4 percent from the field. Freshman Raven Benton has averaged the most points for the team with 14.4 per outing.       

Matching Up with the Matadors
Cal State Northridge only has a 5-11 record, however the team has pulled off wins at Clemson and against USC. The Matadors are 1-1 in league play, most recently falling at Hawai'i 54-44. Offensively, the team is led by its starting junior guards Cinnamon Lister (15.5 ppg) and Ashlee Guay (13.7 ppg). Guay also averages 3.7 assists and a pair of steals per contest. They are one of four teams in the Big West to average 40 or more rebounds per game, and they are led by Camille Mahlknecht's 104. 

Big West Preseason Poll
In the the conference's preseason media poll, the Gauchos were selected to finish fifth in the Big West, receiving 100 total votes. Defending champion Cal Poly was selected as the No. 1 team in the poll with its 17 first-place votes. Hawai'i will be entering its second season as a member of the Big West and was picked to finish second.    

2012-13 Recap
Last season, UCSB played in the postseason for the 16th time in the past 17 seasons by competing in its fifth WNIT. The Gauchos finished the season overal 16-17 and 11-7 in Big West play, qualifying for the fourth seed in the conference tournament. Senior Sweets Underwood and junior Nicole Nesbit were both recognized by the Big West for their standout play on the floor, as Underwood was named first-team all-conference while Nesbit was an honorable mention. Underwood finished the season with a team-high 401 points and became the 24th player in program history to score 1,000 or more career points.