UCSB Hosts NMSU Sunday in Final Game of 2018

Lauren Lee (Photo by Jeilo Gauna)
Lauren Lee (Photo by Jeilo Gauna)

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The Schedule
Sunday, Dec. 30, 2018 at 2:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara (3-9) vs. New Mexico State (7-4)
The Thunderdome – Santa Barbara, Calif.
All-Time Record vs. the Aggies: 15-5
Last Meeting: W, 77-47 @ NMSU (12/29/17)
San Diego State Recap
After starting the game on a 12-0 run, UC Santa Barbara went on to defeat San Diego State 63-58 last Friday to claim its first win in a true away game this season. Sophomore point guard Danae Miller and redshirt junior guard Coco Miller both had career days in terms of scoring, with 16 and 29 respectively, to lead the Gauchos to their third win of the season.
Big West Picture
Santa Barbara improved to 3-9 with its win over SDSU, bringing the Gauchos to within a game of fifth-place Hawaii (4-8) in the Big West standings. UCSB currently owns the eighth-best record in the conference.
Final Game of 2018
Sunday's game against New Mexico State will see the Gauchos take on the Aggies for the second time in 366 days. Last December, UCSB came away victorious in a 77-47 rout in New Mexico. It was a game which saw a huge disparity in three-point shooting, as UCSB knocked down 46.7 percent (14-30 3FG) compared to 6.7 percent (1-15 3FG) for the Aggies. NMSU is out to a 7-4 start this season, led by the duo of guards Brooke Salas (18.3 ppg) and Gia Pack (14.5 ppg). The Gauchos have a 15-5 edge in the all-time series.
Miller Time
Redshirt junior guard Coco Miller's 29-point outburst against SDSU is tied for the seventh-highest scoring performance in the Big West this season, while her six three-pointers are tied for first. She has hit the 20-point mark in back-to-back games for the first time in her career. Through just 12 games this year, she has four 20-point efforts, matching the total from her two previous seasons combined. For the season, she is averaging career-bests in points (13.0), assists (2.5), field goal (38.8%) and three-point percentage (35.2%). She ranks second in the Big West in three-pointers per game (2.1) and 12th in efficiency while coming in ninth in scoring. She has made at least one triple in all but one game this season. With 136 in her career, she is closing in on Makala Roper (152) for No. 6 in the UCSB record book.
Miller Time... Part II
Sophomore guard Danae Miller is coming off her best performance since returning to the starting lineup six games ago, as she set career-highs with 16 points in 39 minutes while pulling down eight rebounds for the second straight game. She has increased her aggression when her team has needed it most, making and taking more field goals (5-11 FG) against the Aztecs than she ever has before and hitting five free throws for the second straight outing. She is 10-of-11 from the line over her last two while averaging 11.5 points, eight boards and 4.5 assists per game.
Streaky Shooter
Redshirt junior guard Tal Sahar recently had perhaps the best two-game stretch of her career in games against Cal and California Baptist. She recorded double-figures in back-to-back games for the first time as a Gaucho, averaging 16.5 points and hitting 3.5 threes per game at a 41.2 percent clip. Her season-high of 20 points against Cal saw her knock down a career-best 6-of-10 from range. However, Sahar was held to just three points in the win over SDSU on 1-for-7 shooting, good for her third-lowest scoring output of the season. She enters this weekend ranked eighth in the conference in three-pointers (18) and 23rd in percentage (23.4%). Sahar also leads the UCSB bench in scoring at 7.4 points per contest. 
Anugwom Making An Impact
First-year Gaucho Bri Anugwom has been a key contributor for UCSB in her first 12 games at the D-I level, coming in third on the team in points (9.5) and minutes (26.8) and first in three-point percentage (36%). The former West Los Angeles CC standout has been extremely reliable from the free throw line as well, currently sitting second in the Big West at 84.4 percent (27-32 FT). She has hit a bit of a slump the past three games, posting 5.67 points per game on just 19.2 percent from the field. In the three games prior to that, she had been averaging 15.3 points on 57.1 percent shooting.
Nat In The Middle
Junior center Natalia Bruening has hit double-digits in the scoring department in five of her last seven games, averaging 10.9 points on 51.8 percent from the field. She has hit double-figures a team-leading seven times overall. Within the conference, she ranks fourth in double-doubles (3), fifth in rebounding (7.1), sixth in field goal percentage (50.5%) and eighth in blocked shots (10).
Get On The Glass!
In the four games which the Gauchos have outrebounded their opponents, UCSB boasts a 3-1 record, with the only loss coming to CBU. They are averaging a +14 rebounding margin in their three wins this year. 
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. Bri Anugwom and Lauren Lee have also cemented themselves in the starting lineup.
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.