UCSB Resumes Big West Play with Cal Poly on the Slate

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Jan. 18, 2007

The Schedule
Game No. 18
Saturday, January 20, 2007 at 4:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos at Cal Poly Mustangs
Mott Gym (3,032)

This Week
UC Santa Barbara resumes Big West play with Central Coast rival Cal Poly on the slate in UCSB's only game of the week. The Gauchos will take on the Mustangs in San Luis Obispo Saturday at 4:00 p.m. before returning home for a four-game homestand, their longest of the season. Santa Barbara leads the all-time series with Cal Poly 41-13.

The Gaucho Record
UCSB has been on a roll lately, winning a season-high five straight and eight of the last 11 overall following non-conference wins over Utah Valley State and UC Davis last week. The Gauchos enter Saturday's showdown with Cal Poly sporting an overall record of 9-8 and a 3-1 conference mark after climbing above .500 for the first time since winning their season-opener Nov. 10. Santa Barbara's five game win streak matches the 2005-06 squad's best stretch when they won five in a row from Dec. 17-Jan. 4. The last time a Gaucho team won six consecutive games was in 2004-05 when UCSB rattled off 10 straight -- all in Big West play.

UCSB on the Air & Web
Saturday's contest at Cal Poly, along with every other UCSB women's basketball game in 2006-07, will be broadcast live on KIST 1340 AM in Santa Barbara. Steve Wendt is in his third season as the play-by-play voice of the Gauchos alongside Yours Truly, who will attempt to provide the color commentary during UCSB's road games. Broadcasts begin 15 minutes prior to tip-off with the "Gaucho Pregame Show". Fans can also catch all games live via the internet by going to www.ucsbgauchos.com and purchasing the "UCSB All-Access Pass". With this option hoops fans can enjoy live audio and video from the comfort of their homes courtesy of CSTV.

Career-Highs From Ononiwu, Williams Lift Gauchos Past UC Davis
Three first-year Gauchos led the way as UCSB rolled to a fifth consecutive win with a 77-53 victory over UC Davis Saturday, Jan. 13 at the Pavilion. Junior Chisa Ononiwu and freshman Meagan Williams each posted career-highs with 20 and 16 points, respectively, while freshman Jordan Franey tallied the second-highest total of her young career with 17. Those three responded in a game in which Santa Barbara needed production from some of its newest members. Jessica Wilson was forced to run the point after LaShay Fears was sidelined with a knee injury and finished with just seven points, Jenna Green faced constant double and triple-teams from Aggie defenders and scored a season-low eight points, and sophomore Whitney Warren managed just four. UCSB jumped out to an early 11-3 lead, but Davis answered with an identical 11-3 run of their own to tie the score at 14-14 at the 13:45 mark of the first half. The Aggies pulled ahead at 18-17 and went on to lead 30-26 with 5:06 left to play. Santa Barbara then turned the corner and held Davis without a point the rest of the half while scoring 16 of their own to take a 42-30 lead at halftime. The Gauchos picked up right where they left off in the second period and their run eventually stretched to 28-4, combining the end of the first and start of the second to lead 54-34 with 15:58 left. UCSB shot 52.9% from the floor and led by as many as 27 points in the second half, cruising to a 77-53 victory.

Offense Continues to Hit Its Mark
As the Gauchos' winning streak climbed to a season-high five games following wins over UVSC and UCD, the offense has continued to flow. In the last five games UCSB has put up an average of over 78 points per game, up considerably from the team's season average of just under 67 per contest. The Gauchos have scored 70 points or more in all five games during their current streak and are an impressive 7-1 when accomplishing that feat (UCSB is 3-0 when scoring 80 or more). Additionally, Santa Barbara has shot better than 40 % from the field in five straight after shooting a season low 28% at UC Riverside Dec. 28. After Saturday's 52.9% performance from the floor at Davis, which was just short of the squad's season-high of 54.4%, the Gauchos own an 8-3 mark when shooting better than 40% this season.

Its Raining Threes
On the topic of offense, UCSB has been shooting the ball particularly well from behind the three-point line as of late. A week after making 7-of-10 attempts from downtown against UC Irvine -- a season-high 70% -- the Gauchos drained 11-of-18 treys Saturday at UC Davis, also a high in 2006-07. Santa Barbara has shot 45.1% from distance during the five-game winning streak and is second in the Big West at 32% overall this season.

Mr. 500
Mark French returned to his alma mater at the start of the 1987-88 season and women's basketball at UC Santa Barbara has never been the same. Now in his 20th season as head coach of the Gauchos, French has had an immensely successful career, posting a record of 405-186 (.685) while at UCSB and an overall mark of 503-300 (.626). Since the 1991-92 campaign, a period spanning 15 years, French's Gauchos have won 12 Big West Conference titles and advanced to 11 NCAA Tournaments -- including five second rounds and a Sweet 16 appearance -- as well as two Postseason WNITs. Individually, French has earned an unprecedented seven Big West Coach of the Year honors, while in 2002-03 he was named WBCA District 8 Coach of the Year and a finalist for the Naismith National Coach of the Year award. He is the dean of Big West coaches, with nine more years of experience in the league than any of his current counterparts. 2006-07 has been a year of milestones thus far, as French collected his 400th win at UCSB when the Gauchos defeated Pepperdine 78-67 Dec. 18. Less than three weeks later, he added another notch on his belt, winnnig his 500th career game as a head coach with UCSB's victory over Long Beach State Jan. 4.

Probable Starters - Notes
G - Jessica Wilson - Recorded third-career double-double with 18 points, 10 rebounds vs. UVSC.
G - Chisa Ononiwu - Set career-highs in points, field goals made, threes, assists, and minutes at Davis.
F - Jordan Franey - Sank 3-of-5 three-point attempts and finished with 17 points at Davis.
F - Whitney Warren - Made 6-of-13 shots, 46% against Wolverines and Aggies.
C - Jenna Green - Took just four shots and finished with a season-low eight points in Saturday's win.

Probable Reserves - Notes
G - Meagan Williams - Made 6-of-12 shots for a career-high 16 points against the Aggies.
G/F - Ariana Gnekow - Averaged six rebounds in her previous two games.
F - Ashley Hall - Scored first-career basket in the second half at UC Davis Saturday.
C - Jessica Goble - Was 1-for-3 in six minutes against Utah Valley State.

Injury Report - Notes
G - LaShay Fears - Questionable for Saturday's game with a knee injury.
G - Sha'Rae Gibbons - Out indefinitely with right knee injury.

Making A Living on the Glass
Without sounding like a broken record, it cannot be understated how critical rebounding has been to the Gauchos' success this season. The Gauchos have out-rebounded the opposition in their last five games and have done so by an average margin of 13 boards per game. Santa Barbara dominated the backboards in last week's win over Utah Valley State, 52-32 and hauled in a season-high 23 rebounds on the offensive glass, marking the fourth time in the last six games that has happened. After winning the rebound battle just four times in their first 12 games, the Gauchos have done so in five straight and currently average 37.5 boards per contest to their opponent's 39. UCSB is 8-1 when out-rebounding the opposition this season.

You Can't Win Without Defense
With the way the Gaucho offense has been performing the last three weeks, it has been easy to overlook the strides the defense has made. In the last five games, UCSB's defense has allowed an average of just under 62 points per game -- seven points under the team's season average. After holding the Wolverines and Aggies to 58 and 53 points, respectively last week, Santa Barbara improved to 4-0 this season when allowing less than 60 points. UCSB is 7-4 when allowing 70 points or less in 2006-07 and has surrendered more than 70 just once during the current winning streak. Not surprisingly, Gaucho foes have struggled shooting the ball lately, with the Santa Barbara defense holding five straight opponents to 38% or less from the field. UCSB is now a perfect 8-0 when holding opponents to less than 40% shooting this season. The Gauchos also posted season-highs in steals (17) and blocks (8) last week against UVSC.

Nail Biters No More?
The Gauchos have also shown the ability to put some distance between themselves and their opponents during their win streak. UCSB's last five wins have come by an average margin of almost 16 points, keyed by the 28-point win over Utah Valley State last week. This comes after the team's first four wins were by an average margin of roughly half of that, just 8.3 points per game. Furthermore, after six of the Gauchos first nine games this season were decided by 10 points or less, UCSB has played in just one close game since. Of the last eight games, only Santa Barbara's 73-71 victory at Cal State Fullerton Dec. 30 -- the game that started the current five-game win streak -- was decided by less than 10.

Taming the Mustangs
• UCSB takes on Cal Poly Saturday afternoon in its lone game of the week. The Gauchos lead the all-time series with the Mustangs, 41-13 after splitting the season series a year ago. Santa Barbara avenged an 82-71 home loss on Jan. 21 with an 80-71 victory in San Luis Obispo Feb. 4. LaShay Fears led the way with 20 points.

• Cal Poly enters Saturday's contest with an overall record of 5-11 after falling 78-64 to UC Davis Jan. 11. The Mustangs, who are 1-3 against Big West competition, have been out-scored by their opponents by an average of 69.1 to 65.2 but hold a slim 40.1 to 39.2 rebounding edge. Cal Poly shoots 38% from the field, while their opponents have shot 40.6%. Senior forward Jessica Eggleston leads the team averaging 13.1 points and 7.8 rebounds per game, while Sparkle Anderson and Toni Newman are second at 8.3 points per contest. Cal Poly is 4-2 at home this season.

Green Machine
Junior center Jenna Green leads the Gauchos averaging 15.8 points and 7.4 rebounds and has recorded a team-high 23 blocked shots in 2006-07. The San Jose, Calif. native has led the team in scoring a total of 10 times this year, more than any other player. Green, who also leads the squad shooting 51.7% from the floor, has scored in double-figures in all but one game this season. As far as Big West statistics go, Green ranks second in the conference in field goal percentage, third in scoring and blocks, and eighth in rebounding. A week after averaging 16.5 points and eight rebounds in wins over Long Beach State and UC Irvine, Green scored 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting in last Thursday's win against Utah Valley State to go with seven rebounds, three blocks, and two steals. Last Saturday, the Aggies focused the brunt of their defensive efforts on stopping Green and held the center to just four shots. She did make three of them, however, finishing with a season-low eight points -- her lowest point total since she scored just eight in the Gauchos' 78-59 loss to Fresno State in the WNIT Preliminary Round at the end of last season.

Wilson Continues to Share the Rock
A week after earning Big West Conference Player of the Week honors, junior guard Jessica Wilson continued to play well in UCSB's victories over Utah Valley State and UC Davis. Against the Wolverines, Wilson scored a game-high 18 points on 6-for-11 shooting, her highest total since erupting for 28 Nov. 17 against Oregon. The Sacramento, Calif. native also hauled in a game-high 10 rebounds for her third-career double-double to go with five assists, three blocks and a career-high seven steals. Wilson ran the show in the Gauchos' win at UC Davis filling in at the one with starting point guard LaShay Fears on the sidelines. After totaling a career-best 12 assists a week ago in the win over UC Irvine, the junior embraced the opportunity to run the offense against the Aggies and racked up nine assists -- the second highest total of her career. Wilson leads the team averaging 4.4 assists per game but that number is up to eight per contest over the last four. She is second on the squad in scoring at 13.2 ppg and rebounding at 5.9 rpg and leads the team averaging 2.1 steals per contest.

Triple Threat
Junior transfer Chisa Ononiwu just seems to get better and better with each game and has quickly established herself as Santa Barbara's third scoring option. Ononiwu has scored in double figures in four straight games and six of eight overall since becoming eligible Dec. 18 and is third on the squad averaging 11.1 points per game. She followed a 16-point effort against Irvine with two outstanding performances last week. The Houston, Tex. native scored 15 points on 5-for-10 shooting, including 2-of-5 from downtown, and also turned in six rebounds and four assists. She was even better last Saturday at UC Davis, racking up a career-high 20 points on 5-of-6 shooting from downtown and 7-of-10 overall to go with four rebounds and a career-best five assists. Ononiwu, this week's Golden 1 Athlete of the Week, has started five of the eight games she has played in and is second on the team shooting 45% from three-point range.

Sharp Shooter
Freshman Forward Jordan Franey has started 14 games this season and is averaging 9.6 points and 4.3 rebounds in 26.4 minutes per game. The San Diego native has also proven to be one of UCSB's biggest three-point shooting threats, leading the team with 27 treys and 77 attempts. Franey had a break-out performance in the Gauchos' 62-57 win over Weber State Dec. 7, when she led all scorers and finished with a career-best 22 points on 7-for-12 shooting, including 4-for-6 from three-point territory. She also hauled in a career-best 12 rebounds to record her first-career double-double as a Gaucho. Franey has been in the starting lineup in the last three games and has averaged just under 12 points during that span. She made 4-of-11 shots and finished with 10 points in the Gauchos' win over UVSC last week and also chipped in with five rebounds, two assists, and one steal. Franey then made three of her five attempts from distance and 5-of-9 shots overall for 17 points, the second highest total of her career, along with five rebounds and two assists.

Williams Wows at Davis
A number of UCSB's younger players have had their opportunities this season and they have all shown that they are capable of contributing at the Division I level. Freshman guard Meagan Williams was the latest to wow Gaucho fans after her brilliant performance in UCSB's win at UC Davis last week. The native of Sacramento, Calif. made six of her 12 shots, including 3-of-4 from behind the three-point arc, for a career-high 16 points in just 25 minutes. Williams also grabbed a career-best and game-high seven rebounds, six of which came on the offensive glass, to go with two assists, a block, and a steal. She is now averaging 3.2 points and 2.5 rebounds this season and has made 41% of her three-point shots.

UCSB Lands Three Prized Recruits
On Wednesday, November 8, UCSB announced the signing of three high school seniors to National Letters of Intent during this year's early signing period. Ashlee Brown, a 6'0" forward from Good Year, Ariz., a 5'11" guard Courtney Collishaw of Visalia, Calif., and Margaret Johnson, a 5'11" forward from Lake Oswego, Ore. will join the Gauchos next season as true freshmen. Brown was named to the 2005-06 Arizona Tribune First Team and garnered First Team All-Fiesta Region accolades after averaging 21 points, 16 rebounds, five steals, four assists, and three blocked shots per game as a junior at Chandler High School. Collishaw signs with UCSB after earning Cal-Hi Sports All-State Junior Second Team honors at Redwood High School. She was named to the CIF Central Section First Team after scoring 22.6 points per game a year ago. Johnson enters her final season at Lake Oswego High School having guided the team to a second place league finish in 2006 at 10-4 and an 18-8 overall record. In 2007-08 Santa Barbara will also gain the services of 5'10" guard Lauren Pedersen, a junior transfer from UCLA. A native of Brea, Calif., she played two seasons with the Bruins, averaging 2.5 points and 1.6 rebounds in 54 career games while making 11 starts during that span. Pedersen will have two years of eligibility at UCSB starting next season.

Gauchos Look To Start Streaking
2005-06 was a very disappointing year by UCSB standards. Finishing just 16-14 last season and losing in the WNIT First Round, Coach French and the Gauchos had a number of streaks broken that they will be looking to reestablish this year. UCSB saw its streak of nine consecutive Big West Tournament titles come to a crashing halt after a narrow loss to UC Riverside in the title game. That being said, Santa Barbara did not receive the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament and its string of nine-straight trips to the Big Dance was also severed. With a total of 16 victories, UCSB saw its span of 10 seasons with at least 20 wins broken, as well. Finally, although the Gauchos did win the Big West regular season title, they shared the honor with Long Beach State, which snapped their streak of 10-straight outright conference championships--a run that was the longest in the nation. Needless to say, UCSB will aim to start a new set of streaks in 2006-07.

O'Bryan, Thomas Leave UCSB
On October 17, head coach Mark French announced that two key players would not be with the Gauchos in 2006-07. Guard Erin O'Bryan and forward Shantel Thomas both left the program citing personal reasons. O'Bryan, who appeared in 27 games for UCSB last season, averaging 6.9 points, 2.2 rebounds, and 1.5 assists, will not be back for her senior season. Thomas, on the other hand, is expected to return at some point, provided she maintains her eligibility. The Sacramento, Calif. native appeared in 25 games as a true freshman in 2005-06, averaging 2.5 ppg and 2.6 rpg in 11.2 minutes per contest.

Another Blow...
Less than a month later, the coaching staff was dealt more bad news when the decision was made that Kat Suderman will redshirt in 2006-07. The San Luis Obispo, Calif. native will be inactive this season as she rehabilitates from a knee surgery she had last spring. Suderman was one of only two players to appear in all 30 games last season, starting eight games for UCSB. She posted career-highs averaging 6.2 points and 6.1 rebounds in 21.2 minutes per game. Over the past two seasons, Suderman has appeared in a combined 56 games, more than any other Gaucho over that span.

Looking Ahead
Following this weekend's match-up with Cal Poly, UCSB returns to the Thunderdome to continue Big West play. The Gauchos will host Cal State Northridge Thursday, Jan. 25 at 7:00 p.m., before entertaining Pacific Saturday, Jan. 27 at 2:00 p.m.