Gauchos Face Long Beach State in Big West Championship Game

Onome Jemerigbe (Photo by Eric Isaacs)
Onome Jemerigbe (Photo by Eric Isaacs)

• The Schedule
Saturday, Mar. 11, 2017 at 4 p.m.
No. 4 UC Santa Barbara (16-15, 9-7) vs No. 2 LBSU (22-10, 12-4)
At Honda Center (Anaheim)
All-Time Record / Streak vs. 49ers: 50-28 / L1
Last Meeting: L, 59-45 (2/18/17)
Audio | Video | Live Stats

*Game will be televised on Fox Prime Ticket & the FoxSportsGO app

• Point Guards Carry UCSB in Upset Over Davis

The Gauchos ended the top-seeded Aggies 10-game winning streak in the Big West Tournament semifinals on Saturday afternoon behind 20-point games from point guards Drea Toler (23 pts, 10-17 FG) and Onome Jemerigbe (21 pts, 7-14 FG). It was the second straight postseason game that two Gauchos scored 20 points, despite the fact that it happened zero times during the regular season. Toler led all players with seven assists, while Jemerigbe added five assists, five rebounds, and a game-high four steals. After trailing 30-29 through one half, the Gauchos went a perfect 10-10 from the field in the third to take a 52-45 lead into the fourth. They outscored Davis 44-29 in the second half.  The Gauchos, who have now won four straight, outscored Davis 40-26 in points in the paint, 20-9 in points off turnovers, and 23-2 in points off the bench (all coming from Toler).

• Gauchos Hoping History Repeats Itself

UCSB hasn't made it to the final round of the Big West Tournament since 2012, when it coincidentally defeated Long Beach State 63-54 to win its record 14th Big West title. The Gauchos have a 14-2 all-time mark in Big West championship games, compared to four for Long Beach (last win was in 1991). Santa Barbara has never lost to the 49ers (5-0) in the title game. 

• The Henrickson Effect

It might seem like a distant memory now, but it was just two years ago that UCSB finished in last place in the Big West with a 2-27 overall record. That led to the hiring of head coach Bonnie Henrickson, who now becomes the fourth Gaucho coach to ever lead the team to the conference title game. UCSB improved upon its No. 5 seed and 8-8 conference mark in 2015-16 by going 9-7 for the No. 4 seed this year. UCSB has connected on just over 40 percent of its shots under Henrickson, ranking third in each of the last two years, following the 2014-15 season where they finished dead-last with a .349 mark. In 20 years as a head coach, Henrickson's teams have qualified for 16 postseason appearances and seven NCAA Tournaments. 

• Who Wins the Rubber Match?

UCSB and Long Beach State had a clean 1-1 split during the regular season, with both teams winning on their respective home courts. The 49ers have won five of their last six games entering Saturday. In the two teams' first meeting, the Gauchos ended the Beach's perfect 3-0 start to conference play, defeating them 65-60 back on Jan. 19. Five Gauchos scored in double-figures in that game, as Sarah Porter led the way with 17 points and a career-high 13 rebounds. In the two teams' second meeting, Long Beach held UCSB to a season-low in scoring and a season-high in turnovers (26) en route to a 59-45 win. The 49ers became the first Big West team to ever sweep the conference specialty awards this year, with Jewelyn Sawyer (Defensive PotY), Raven Benton (Sixth Woman), and Anna Kim (Best Hustle) all earning postseason recognition. Long Beach had the third-highest scoring offense (67.0 ppg) in the Big West, with Benton (11.4 ppg) and Kim (10.1 ppg) leading the way.

THE USUAL STARTERS

Pos    #    Name (GP-GS)
PG 10 Onome Jemerigbe (31-30) - 5th all-time in asts (433) at UCSB... Averaging 2.6 steals per game over last ten... Career-high 21 pts vs. UCD on Fri... 
G 23 Coco Miller (31-31) - 56 3FGM this season ranks No. 9 all-time at UCSB... Played 4th most min (993) in BW... Only Gaucho to start every game...
F 11 Sarah Porter (30-25) - Made 72 3FG this season, good for No. 3 all-time single-season at UCSB... Gauchos 8-1 in 2017 when she hits 3+...
F 21 Chaya Durr (30-28) - UCSB's 3rd-leading rebounder at 3.9 rpg... Tied season-high with 2 stls vs. UCR on Wednesday...
C 13 Drew Edelman (31-30) - Her .614 FG% ranks No. 2 all-time single-season at UCSB... Team-leading five 20-pt gms, Gauchos 4-1 when she scores 20... 

THE BENCH MOB

PG 1 Drea Toler (31-3) - Was 2nd in assists (4.8 apg) & steals (1.8 spg), 7th in FG% (.475) during BW play... Scored all 23 UCSB bench pts vs. UCD on Fri...
G 5 Makala Roper (29-3) - Program's sixth all-time leader in three-pointers (120)... Went 1-2 3FG vs. Cal Poly (Mar. 4), ending 6-gm drought on threes...
G 3 Aliceah Hernandez (26-3) - Made 7-10 3FG vs. UCI on Jan. 28, one shy of program record... Of her 123 career FGA, 104 (.846) are three-pointers...
F 24 Taylor Farris (23-1) - Didn't score vs. UCR, ending run of 8 straight gms with at least 1 pt... Averages 10 rebs per 40 min, 2nd best on team...
C 33 Natalia Bruening (21-1) - Has 2nd-highest FG% on team (.474)... Gauchos are 6-1 when she plays and scores in 2017, 2-4 when held scoreless...
C 25 Je Zhé Newton (6-0) - Has missed UCSB's last 25 gms dating back to Dec. 11... Averages team-high 0.7 blocks per game...
G 14 Julianna Ramey (5-0) - Made first FG of season and first career 3FG vs LBSU on Feb. 18... Has appeared in five games this season...
F 12 Melissa Maragnes (4-0) - Appeared in four games this year coming off an ACL injury... Scored 3 pts in her senior season, going 3-4 on free throws...

• You Can't Stop Dre

The Gauchos trailed UC Davis 7-0 before Drea Toler entered the game on Friday, instantly changing things with back-to-back buckets. She accounted for all 23 of UCSB's bench points against the Aggies, going 10-17 from the field in the career performance. She has now scored in double-figures in 12 of her last 15 outings. Toler's 144 assists are 19 more than any other Big West player, while her 51 steals are tied for second. Her average of 7.8 assists per 40 minutes is nearly two assists more than the second-highest mark in the Big West (Brooke Bayman, UCI, 5.9).

• Last Chance to Dance

Point guard Onome Jemerigbe also scored a career-high 21 points against Davis. 14 of those points came in the second half, as she knocked down a pair of momentum-swinging triples in the third quarter to help UCSB build a lead it wouldn't relinquish. The senior has the second-highest three-point percentage (.443) in the conference and ranks fourth in assists (122). With 433 career helpers, she needs just four more to move into a tie for No. 4 all-time at UCSB. She is also tied for second in the Big West in steals (51), with more than half (26) coming in her last ten outings.

• Cash Her Outside

Sarah Porter put on a surreal shooting exhibition in Wednesday's quarterfinal matchup with UCR, making her first six threes in the opening quarter alone for 20 points. She finished 9-11 from deep en route to a career-high 31 points, the most of any Gaucho this season. She wasn't able to duplicate that against UCD, but still had an efficient night hitting 3-6 overall and 2-5 from deep for ten points, while grabbing a game-high eight boards. The nine threes against UCR set new Big West Tournament and Gaucho single-game records, which were both previously eight. It was the seventh time this season that Porter has made three triples before halftime. UCSB is 8-1 in 2017 when she makes three treys. Her 72 three-pointers this season are the third-most in single-season program history. She is two away from tying Erin Alexander (74, 1996-97) for second all-time. She has shot 11-16 (.688) so far in the postseason.

• Cash Her Inside

Redshirt junior Drew Edelman is UCSB's leading scorer (11.6 ppg) and rebounder (7.5 rpg) this season. Following her career-performance (22 pts, 14 rebs, 11-17 FG) against UCR, she had a relatively quieter night (12 pts, 4 rebs) against UCD. She also leads the team in 20-point games (5) and double-doubles (8). UCSB is 4-1 when she scores 20 points. Her .614 shooting mark is 7.3 percent higher than any other Big West player and just shy of Mekia Valentine's all-time single-season program record (.620, 2010-11). 

• It's Miller Time

Sophomore guard Coco Miller has had an up-and-down year statistically, but she continues to be one of UCSB's most reliable top options for smart play and constant effort on both ends. When Miller's shot is on, she has the ability to win games for her team. She is the only Gaucho this season to have multiple games of five three-pointers (3), and with 109 in her career, is currently tied for No. 7 all-time in program history. In her last three games of the regular season, she averaged 12.3 points per game while shooting .529 (9-17 3FG) from deep. 

• Gauchos in the Ranks

Although UCSB's relatively slower pace has it ranking sixth in points per game (62.9), the Gauchos have been efficient with their shot all season, coming in with the third-highest shooting percentage (.417) and second-highest three-point percentage (.341) in the conference. UCSB also ranks third in three-point makes (223) and assists per game (15.3). On the defensive side, they rank fourth in steals (7.7 spg), third in rebounding margin (-0.0) and give up the second-fewest points (62.3 ppg) and assists per game (12.6). Despite what has become a deep postseason run, they have still allowed the fewest three-point makes (140) and attempts (459) by a significant margin, coming into the championship game with the Big West's third-best three-point defense (.305).