January 29, 2014

UCSB Embark on Road Trip to Irvine, Davis

Schedule
Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014 at 7pm
UC Santa Barbara at UC Irvine (9-10, 2-3)
at Donald Bren Events Center
All-time Record vs. Anteaters: 59-26
Last Time: W, 49-41 (3/9/13)
Online Audio: UCSBgauchos.com
Live Stats: UCSBgauchos.com

Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014 at 2pm
UC Santa Barbara at UC Davis (8-10, 3-2)
at The Pavilion at ARC
All-time Record vs. Aggies: 14-9
Last Time: L, 60-52 (2/2/13) 
Online Audio: UCSBgauchos.com
Live Stats: UCSBgauchos.com

Week in Review
Last week, UCSB picked up its first conference win of the year after a dominant 74-61 display over UC Riverside. In addition to outrebounding the Highlanders 55-30, the Gauchos had a pair of standout performances from Nicole Nesbit, who finished with a game-high 20 point, and Jasmine Ware, who recorded her first career double-double with personal-best marks of 12 points and 11 rebounds. Against Cal State Fullerton, UCSB held a 10-point lead at halftime but were outscored 44-29 in the final 20 minutes. The Titans scored netted 10 three-pointers, including six in the second half, to take the 67-62 victory.

Flying on the Wings
Since the start of conference play, UCSB has seen its three-point shooting percentage make a significant jump from 30.8 to 45.1 percent. Melissa Zornig and Destini Mason have been the main reasons for the improvement, as they are both shooting well over 50 percent from downtown in the Big West. Zornig (56.5) leads the league, while Mason (54.5) ranks second. The two seniors have seen their numbers beyond the arc rise as well, as they are both just one three-pointer shy of matching the same number of threes they had in the nonconference schedule. 

What's the Difference?
For UCSB, rebounding has made all the difference between games won and games lost. During the Gauchos' six wins, they have averaged 40.7 rebounds per game, while they only pull down an average of 31 in their losses. Last week, the team garnered a season-high 55 rebounds, which is the most since Nov. 20, 2010 when the team pulled down 59 against Idaho. UCSB has also held its opposition to 41.8 percent shooting in wins, compared to 49.6  percent in its loses. 

Board Game
After pulling down an average of 32.5 rebounds per game in nonconference play, the Gauchos have gone on to raise their average to 38.6. The primary reason for the team's improvement is its defensive rebounding average which went from 19.8 in nonconference to 26.4 in league play. Destini Mason and Jasmine Ware lead the Gauchos by averagining 6.8 and 5.2 boards, respectively. Mason also ranks eighth in the Big West with 5.2 defensive rebounds in conference games. 

Zornig Ranks
Aside from being UCSB's third-leading scorer with 12.9 ppg, Melissa Zornig has put up numbers that rank among the nation's best. With her 2.2 assists/turnover ratio, the senior has the 3rd best mark in the Big West, while her 89.8 free-throw shooting percentage places her first among league players.

Senior Leadership
The three Gaucho seniors have led the team in most major categories this season. In fact, the trio are the roster's top-three leaders in minutes, field goals, three-pointers, and points. The seniors make up more than 64 percent of UCSB's total points this season, as they all rank among the Big West's top-15 in points per game. Cal Poly is the only other school to have as many players to rank in that range.   

Dishing It Out
While Nicole Nesbit's scoring figures have seen a dip in conference play, going from 18.1 to 10.2 ppg, she has been pivotal in getting her teammates involved on offense. She is fourth in the Big West with 4.2 assists per league game, which is an improvement on her 3.4 mark from her nonconference stats. Also doing work in the rebounds category, the guard is second on the Gaucho roster with 4.6 boards per Big West contest.       

Touch of Destini
Destini Mason put up career numbers during the nonconference schedule, but her offensive stats have seen a booming increase since the start of Big West play. Her scoring has improved from 13.2 points per game to 14 ppg, while her shooting from the field has elevated from 43.3 to 50 percent. She has also been accurate from long-range, as she has knocked down six three-pointers which is just one shy of her total from the nonconference schedule. Not suprisingly, her shooting percentage from downtown launched from 31.8 to 54.5 percent.

Defense Makes the Difference
The Gauchos are posting their highest scoring average (65.4 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 six wins, UCSB has allowed its opponents an average of 63.8 ppg, while in its losses, the team gave up an average of 73.1 ppg. 

Analyzing the Anteaters
UC Irvine comes into this week after picking up a 10-point win over Cal State Northridge and a loss at Hawai'i, which ended a three-game road trip. The Anteaters will now open a four-game homestand against UCSB on Thursday. UCI is led by Jennifer Tsurumoto's 16.2 points per game, while Camille Buckley nearly averages a double double with 15.4 ppg and a team-high 9.4 rpg. The team's best winning offensive performance came against UC Riverside in a 90-78 decision, while its scored a season-high 94 points in a losing effort to Sacramento State.  

Dueling with Davis
UC Davis comes into this week tied for fourth in the Big West standings with a 3-2 record. They recently saw a three-game win streak snapped at Hawai'i after losing 64-50. Before that, however, the team beat the likes of Long Beach State and Cal State Fullerton. The Aggies are paced by the league's third-leading scorer in Sydnee Fipps who averages 17.4 points per game. Davis also has a threat from downtown in Kelsey Harris who knocks down 40.2 percent of her long-range looks, which ranks second in the conference.