Gauchos Return Home for CBU Wednesday, Travel to SDSU Friday

Paris Jones (Photo by Jeilo Gauna)
Paris Jones (Photo by Jeilo Gauna)
The Schedule
Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018 at 7:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara (2-8) vs. California Baptist (5-6)
The Thunderdome – Santa Barbara, Calif.
All-Time Record vs. the Lancers: 0-0
Last Meeting: N/A
 
Friday, Dec. 21, 2018 at 1:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara (2-8) at San Diego State (5-5)
The Thunderdome – Santa Barbara, Calif.
All-Time Record vs. the Aztecs: 13-22
Last Meeting: W, 77-64 @ UCSB (12/22/17)
 
Cal Recap
The UC Santa Barbara women's basketball team suffered a 69-45 defeat at the hands of the No. 13 California Golden Bears on Sunday afternoon at Haas Pavilion. Junior guard Tal Sarah scored a season-high 20 points and junior center Natalia Bruening added nine rebounds, but Cal forward Kristine Anigwe's 18 points on 7-of-17 shooting and the Golden Bears' nine team blocks ultimately proved to be too much for the Gauchos.
 
Mid-December Preview
The Gauchos (2-8) return home Wednesday to face California Baptist in their first game at the Thunderdome in 17 days following two straight on the road. In their inaugural season at the Division I level, the Lancers have gotten out to a 5-6 start led by junior forward Britney Thomas, who averages a double-double at 15.5 points and 11.1 rebounds per game. On Friday, UCSB heads back on the road to face San Diego State for the second straight December. Last year, the Gauchos defeated the Aztecs 77-64 at the Thunderdome, bringing them to a 13-22 all-time mark against SDSU.
 
Sahar Sets Season-High
Streaky guard Tal Sahar had her shot falling up in Berkeley, as she recorded the second 20-point game of her Gaucho career, knocking down 7-of-15 (.467) from the field and a career-best 6-of-10 from three-point range. She had previously hit four threes on four occasions over her first 37 games at UCSB. The hot shooting brought her into the Big West's top-25 for three-point percentage for the first time this season, while her 1.6 threes per game are good for seventh. She is UCSB's leading scorer off the bench, averaging 7.3 points a night in 22.4 minutes.
 
Miller Time
On the heels of an efficient five-game span which saw her have four outings of over 50 percent shooting, redshirt junior guard Coco Miller has been off over her last two. She made just 15.8 percent (3-19 FG) of her shots during the Gauchos' two-game road stint, averaging 4.0 points. Even so, she still holds career-high averages of 10.7 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and shooting percentages of 36.9 percent overall and 33.3 percent from three. She has had three 17-point outings this year, one more than she had in her entire sophomore season in 2016-17, the last time she was fully healthy. She has also hit at least one three in all but one game this season, sitting fifth in the conference with 1.7 triples per game.
 
Anugwom Making An Impact
First-year Gaucho Bri Anugwom has been a key contributor for UCSB in her first 10 games at the D-I level, coming in third on the team in points (10.1), field goal percentage (42.4%) and minutes (25.9). The former West Los Angeles CC standout has been one of the more reliable shooters on the team as well, currently sitting third in the conference in three-point percentage (42.9%) and fifth in free throw percentage (83.3%). Prior to her 4-point, 2-for-10 showing at Cal, she had been averaging 15.3 ppg on 57.1 percent shooting over her previous three games.
 
Nat In The Middle
Sunday's game against the Bears saw junior center Natalia Bruening's streak of four straight double-digit scoring games come to an end, as she was held to seven points on 3-of-9 shooting. Prior to that, she had averaged 13.75 points on 59.4 percent (19-32 FG) from the field in her four previous efforts. That was the longest run of double-digit scoring games in her career, topping the two-game run she had to open the year. She notched her team-leading third double-double of the season in the win over GCU with 13 points and 10 boards, and currently ranks sixth in the Big West in field goal percentage (51.3%), sixth in rebounding (7.4) and ninth in blocks (0.9).
 
Predictors of Success
Although the sample size is still small, the Gauchos can look at their rebounding numbers as a measure of their success. Every time they have been outrebounded by 13 or more, they have lost in double-digits. In games where they were outrebounded by 12 or fewer, they have lost in single-digits, with just two exceptions. In the two games they outrebounded their opponents, both times 39 to 24, they picked up their only two wins thus far, 62-56 over Dartmouth and 66-55 over Grand Canyon. Those wins also yielded the Gauchos' two highest shooting percentages of 47.8% versus the Big Green and 44.2% against the Lopes.
 
Starting Lineup Shuffle
UCSB used six different starting lineups through its first eight games this year, but that has stabilized of late with the return of Danae Miller, who was re-inserted to the starting lineup in the last four after being injured to start the season. Coco Miller and Natalia Bruening are the only Gauchos who have started every game thus far.
 
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 gets 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.