UCSB Begins 2018-19 Season with Monday Night Exhibition vs. CSUSB

Coco Miller (photo by Eric Isaacs)
Coco Miller (photo by Eric Isaacs)

The Schedule
Monday, Oct. 29, 2018 at 7:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara vs. Cal State San Bernardino (Exhibition)
The Thunderdome – Santa Barbara, Calif.
All-Time Record vs. the Coyotes: 0-0
Live Stats Video

Opening Tip
The UC Santa Barbara women's basketball team begins the 2018-19 campaign with an exhibition against Cal State San Bernardino on Monday. Last season, the Coyotes, who compete in the CCAA at the NCAA Division II level, went 11-15 overall and finished in ninth place with a 9-13 conference mark.

Look Back to Last Year
After increasing its win total in three straight seasons, UCSB finished at 12-17 overall in 2017-18 with a 9-7 record in the Big West. The No. 4 seeded Gauchos ended their year with a 72-63 defeat to No. 5 seed CSUN in the Big West Tournament Quarterfinals. Forward Drew Edelman earned All-Big West First Team honors after averaging team-highs of 16.2 points and 9.6 rebounds per game and leading the conference in field goal percentage (.570).

Big West Preseason Poll
Announced last week by the conference, UCSB was selected in both the media and coaches poll to finish seventh. CSUN was selected to finish first in the coaches poll, while UC Davis topped the media poll.

Key Returners
Among UCSB's six returners, perhaps none is more valuable than guard Coco Miller, who enters her redshirt junior season after missing all of last year. The San Clemente, Calif. native has career averages of 9.0 points and 2.1 assists per game, while her 111 total three-pointers are good for seventh in program history. Sophomore point guard Danae Miller is the lone returner from last year's starting lineup. As a freshman, she posted 3.2 points and 2.7 assists per game, averaging 19.7 minutes in 21 starts. Expected to play a bigger role this year are juniors Tal Sahar and Natalia Bruening. In her first season playing for the Gauchos, Sahar averaged 4.2 points per game, knocking down 24 three-pointers. She showed an ability to take over games at times, setting a program record with a 17-point second quarter against Cal Poly and pouring in a career-high 21 points in 18 minutes against UC Riverside, the most points by anyone off the bench all year. Bruening has started just two games in two seasons, but will likely see many more starts as the Gauchos' focal point in the paint. Last year, she averaged 2.5 points and 2.5 rebounds per game and was second on the team with a 44.4 field goal percentage.

New Talent
The 2018-19 Gauchos feature an overhauled roster with seven new faces, including four freshmen: forward Megan Ormiston (Murrieta, Calif./Murrieta Valley HS) and guards DeLauna Thomas (Gardena, Calif./Serra HS), Lauren Lee (River Forest, Ill./Trinity HS) and Kiana Vierra (Honolulu, Hawaii/Kamehameha-Kapalama School). Redshirt senior guard Paris Jones also joins the team after four seasons at LIU Brooklyn, where she averaged 4.4 points and 1.1 assists in 62 games. Sophomore Bri Anugwom will get her first taste of Division I basketball after a freshman year at West Los Angeles CC where she averaged 20.2 points, 9.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists while shooting 46.8 percent from the field. Rounding out the newcomers is junior guard/forward Celeste Salazar, who comes to UCSB after averaging 6.0 points and 4.2 rebounds last season at Ventura College.

From Distance
UCSB continued an upward trend in its long-range shooting last year, increasing both its total three-point makes and percentage for the fourth straight season. After going just 76-for-307 (24.8 percent) in 2014-15, UCSB has consistently improved its three-point prowess under head coach Bonnie Henrickson. In 2015-16, UCSB doubled its output from the year prior, going 162-for-544 (29.8 percent) before shooting 231-for-676 (34.2 percent) the following season. In 2017-18, the Gauchos knocked down 242 triples on 35.2 percent from range. That percentage is good for seventh all-time in program history.

Non-Conference Preview
In all, the Gauchos will play 30 games this season, beginning with Monday's season-opening home exhibition against Cal State San Bernardino. The following week, UCSB will hit the road for its Tuesday regular season opener at Utah Valley (Nov. 6). That will be the first of three games this fall to be played outside of California, with the other two coming during Thanksgiving weekend at the UNLV Tournament (Nov. 24-25). The Gauchos' home season opener will pit them against CSU Bakersfield on Nov. 9 at 7:00 p.m. Other non-conference home contests will see them take on LMU (Nov. 19), St. Mary's (Nov. 29), Grand Canyon (Dec. 2), Cal Baptist (Dec. 19) and New Mexico State (Dec. 30). UCSB's non-conference road slate includes a pair of marquee matchups against Pac-12 schools USC (Nov. 15) and Cal (Dec. 16). The month of December will also feature road matchups with Pacific (Dec. 8) and San Diego State (Dec. 21).

Addition to the Staff
Henrickson's coaching staff remains mostly intact from last season, along with the addition of new assistant coach Nneka Enemkpali. The former Texas Longhorn was drafted in the third round (26th overall) of the 2015 WNBA Draft by the Seattle Storm, and later signed a seven-day contract with the Minnesota Lynx. She most recently served two years on the staff at Gonzaga, where she was the video coordinator for a Bulldogs team that had two NCAA Tournament appearances, two West Coast Conference (WCC) championships, and a 53-13 record.