UCSB Comes Home To Face Cal State Northridge, Pacific In Big West Action This Week

UCSB Comes Home To Face Cal State Northridge, Pacific In Big West Action This Week

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Jan. 23, 2007

The Schedule
Game No. 19
Thursday, January 25, 2007 at 7:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. Cal State Northridge Matadors
The Thunderdome (6,000)

Game No. 20
Saturday, January 27, 2007 at 2:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. University of Pacific Tigers
The Thunderdome (6,000)

This Week
UC Santa Barbara returns to the Thunderdome this week with the first of four consecutive home games Thursday night, Jan. 25 against Cal State Northridge, with tip-off scheduled for 7:00 p.m. The Gauchos continue Big West play Saturday, Jan. 27 when they entertain the University of the Pacific at 2:00 p.m. UCSB has not lost to CSUN since 1984 and leads the all-time series 26-11, while holding a 40-14 all-time mark against UOP.

The Gaucho Record
The Gauchos continued their winning ways last week with a 68-62 victory at Cal Poly as their current unbeaten streak climbed to an impressive six consecutive games. Santa Barbara enters Thursday's showdown with Cal State Northridge sporting an overall record of 10-8 and a 4-1 conference mark after climbing two games above .500 for the first time this season. In addition to the six-game win streak, UCSB has now won nine of its last 12 contests overall since dropping five straight from Nov. 12 through Dec. 2. The last time a Gaucho team won seven straight was in 2004-05 when UCSB rattled off 10 in a row -- all in Big West play. Santa Barbara is currently tied with Northridge for second in the BWC conference standings.

UCSB on the Air & Web
Both the contest against CSUN and the match-up with UOP, along with every other UCSB women's basketball game in 2006-07, will be broadcast live on KIST 1340 AM in Santa Barbara. KEYT-TV Sports Director Gerry Fall will fill in for Steve Wendt as the play-by-play voice of the Gauchos during the next four home 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.

Gauchos Battle Back, Defeat Cal Poly 68-62
Trailing 56-44 with 12:01 remaining, UCSB closed the game on a 24-6 run and went on to post a 68-62 victory over Cal Poly last Saturday at Mott Gym. Jessica Wilson led the way with a game-high 19 points, while Jenna Green scored 15, grabbed 11 rebounds, and blocked a career-high six shots in the Gauchos sixth consecutive victory. Chisa Ononiwu finished with 17 points on 5-of-8 shooting and seven of Jordan Franey's 10 points came at the free-throw line including a huge pair in the final minute. On top 44-42, the Gauchos saw their lead erased after the Mustangs scored 14 unanswered points to take a 56-44 advantage with 12:01 remaining. It was all Gauchos from there as they scored nine straight to cut the deficit to just three, 56-53 at 9:52. Cal Poly went back ahead by seven less than two minutes later, but UCSB would respond once again. With both teams over the foul limit, Santa Barbara took advantage, tying the game at 61-61 after five free-throws from Franey in a span of 1:08. After a Meagan Williams free-throw, Wilson hit a jumper to give UCSB a 64-62 lead with 49 seconds to play. Franey was then fouled after a defensive rebound and went to the line with a chance to put the game away. The freshman calmly sank both shots and the Gauchos held on for the 68-62 victory.

Down, Never Out
One of the most impressive things the Gauchos have been able to do this season is battle back from a sizeable deficit. While UCSB has won a number of its games rather handily, the Gauchos have trailed big and had to come-from-behind in a handfull of their wins. After battling back from as many as 12 points down in Saturday's victory at Cal Poly, Santa Barbara has now erased double-digit deficits and gone on to win on three occasions this season. In the 78-67 win over Pepperdine Dec. 18, UCSB trailed by 15 with 7:58 left to play in the first half and then closed the period on a 16-4 run to trail by just three at the break. The Gauchos went on to out-score the Waves 46-32 in the decisive second half. Santa Barbara was down by 16 points with 16:13 remaining in the second half at Cal State Fullerton Dec. 30, before closing the game on a 43-28 run to edge the Titans 73-71.

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 406-186 (.686) while at UCSB and an overall mark of 504-300 (.627). 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 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 - LaShay Fears - Missed the Gauchos' last two games with a knee injury.
G - Jessica Wilson - Scored a game-high 19 points with five rebounds and five assists at Cal Poly.
G - Chisa Ononiwu - Averaging 15.6 points, 6.4 rebounds over last five games.
F - Whitney Warren - Made just 1-of-9 shots against the Mustangs Saturday.
C - Jenna Green - Recorded fourth double-double of the season, career-high six blocks at Cal Poly.

Probable Reserves - Notes
F - Jordan Franey - Leads the squad with 28 three-point baskets in 2006-07.
G - Meagan Williams - Made 6-of-12 shots for a career-high 16 points against UC Davis Jan. 13.
G/F - Ariana Gnekow - Averaged 5.7 rebounds in her previous three games.
F - Ashley Hall - Scored first-career basket in the second half at UC Davis two weeks ago.
C - Jessica Goble - Played a total of seven minutes in the last two.

Injury Report - Notes
G - Sha'Rae Gibbons - Out indefinitely with right knee injury.

Hearts of Glass
UCSB controlled the rebounds last Saturday at Cal Poly and the result was once again the same...A Gaucho victory. During the current winning streak, Santa Barbara has out-rebounded the opposition in all six games and has done so by an average margin of over 12 boards per game. In fact, the Gauchos are the Big West Conference's top squad in terms of rebounding margin at +6.4 after posting a 44-36 edge on the backboards against the Mustangs. After winning the rebound battle just four times in their first 12 games, the Gauchos have done so in six straight and currently average 37.8 boards per contest to their opponent's 38.8. UCSB is 9-1 when out-rebounding the opposition this season.

How About That Defense?
With the Gaucho offense cooling off a bit -- UCSB shot under 40% for the first time since Dec. 28 and made just 1-of-10 three-point attempts Saturday -- the defense was there to pick up the slack. Santa Barbara held Cal Poly to just 33.9% shooting, the lowest mark for a UCSB opponent since Richmond shot 32.8% Dec. 4. In the last six games, the Santa Barbara defense has held each of its opponents to 38% or less from the field and UCSB is now a perfect 9-0 this season when holding opponents to less than 40% shooting. Not surprisingly, Gaucho foes have struggled to put points on the board and UCSB's defense has allowed an average of just under 62 points per game over the last six games-- seven points under the opponent's season average. The Gauchos are 8-3 when allowing 70 points or less in 2006-07 and have not lost a game when holding the opposition to less than 60.

Second Half Supremacy
There is no question that Santa Barbara has been a different team after halftime this season. The Gauchos have out-scored their opponents in the second half in 12 of their 18 games in 2006-07, including all six contests during the six game unbeaten streak. In fact, UCSB has scored 247 points in the second to just 202 for its opponents over the last six. Avergaing over four more points in the second half than in the first this season, Coach French and his staff definitely know how to make the right adjustments at the break.

Scouting the Matadors
• First up for UCSB this week is a showdown with Cal State Northridge with sole possesion of second place in the Big West on the line Thursday night. The Gauchos lead the all-time series with the Matadors 26-11 after taking both games a year ago. UCSB edged CSUN 54-51 Jan. 26 in Northridge before posting a decisive 85-63 home win in the final game of the regular season Mar. 4. Jenna Green led the way in both contests with 17 and 24 points respectively.

• Cal State Northridge enters Saturday's contest with an overall record of 8-10 after defeating UC Davis 73-62 Jan. 18. The Matadors own an identical 4-1 mark in conference play are the only Big West squad to defeat league-leading UC Riverside this season. CSUN boasts the conference's top offense at 70.2 points per game, but their opponents average 71.7 per contest. The Matadors out-rebound the opposition by an average of 42.2. to 41.7 and shoot 42.5%% from the field to their opponent's average of 38.9%. Senior Ofa Tulikihihifo leads the team averaging 14.9 points per game, while fellow senior LaJoyce King is the Big West's leading rebounder at 11.1 rpg and averages 13.4 points per contest. Northridge is 3-3 on the road this season.

Green Machine
Junior center Jenna Green leads UCSB averaging 15.8 points and 7.6 rebounds and has recorded a team-high 29 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 51.4% 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 and blocks, third in scoring, and eighth in rebounding. A week after taking just three shots and finishing with a season-low eight points in the Gauchos' win at UC Davis, Green returned to form against Cal Poly. She made just 2-of-7 shots in the first half, but bounced back in the second making her first three attempts and went on to finish 6-of-13 from the floor. She tallied 15 points and a game-high 11 rebounds for her 10th-career double-double and fourth this season. In what proved to be one of the best defensive outings of her career, Green also blocked a career-high six shots, eclipsing her previous best of four that came against UC Irvine Jan. 6.

A Modern Marvel
Jessica Wilson has certainly been a player to watch this season and the Gaucho faithful that were on hand for last Saturday's win at Cal Poly saw yet another spectacular performance. The junior guard was a flawless 6-for-6 in the first half against the Mustangs and had 15 points at the break. With many of her teammates struggling early on, she wasted little time getting everyone else involved in the second half and went on to finish with a game-high 19 points and five assists. The Sacramento, Calif. native also secured five rebounds, marking the seventh straight game she has tallied five or more. With LaShay Fears sitting out the last two games with a knee injury, Wilson has filled in at the one and embraced her role facilitating the offense nicely. Over the last five games, she has averaged 7.4 assists per contest -- including a career-high 12 in the win over UC Irvine Jan. 6. Wilson leads the Big West averaging 4.4 assists per game and is second on the team in scoring at 13.5 ppg and rebounding at 5.9 rpg and leads the team averaging two steals per contest. She ranks eighth in the BWC in scoring and fourth in steals.

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 five straight games and seven of nine overall since becoming eligible Dec. 18. She is third on the squad averaging 11.8 points per game. A week after her career-high 20-point performance in the win at UC Davis, Ononiwu played a huge role in the Gauchos' come-from-behind win at Cal Poly. After making just 1-of-3 shots in the first half, the Houston, Tex. native made 4-of-5 in the second and finished with 17 points, the second highest total of her career. She was a perfect 7-for-7 at the free-throw line and finished with six rebounds, one off of her career-mark. Ononiwu has started six of the nine games she has played in and leads the team shooting 45.5% from three-point range.

Like A Veteran
Freshman Forward Jordan Franey has started 15 games this season and is averaging 9.7 points and 4.3 rebounds in 26.3 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 28 treys and 82 attempts. Franey has been in the starting lineup in the last four games and has averaged 11.3 points during that span. A week after tallying 17 points on 5-for-9 shooting at UC Davis, the freshman had a big hand in the Gauchos' win at Cal Poly on Saturday. Although she struggled from the floor -- missing seven consecutive shots after making her first three-point attempt -- Franey found other ways to contribute against the Mustangs. She was an impressive 7-for-8 from the free-throw line and made five in a span of just 1:08 seconds during UCSB's comeback from the 12-point deficit. Franey was then fouled with 12 seconds left and the Gauchos leading by two and calmly stepped up to line and knocked down a pair to put the game out of reach. She finished with 10 points, four rebounds, and a career-high three steals.

Human After All
Well, it appears LaShay Fears is human after all. The sophomore point guard missed UCSB's last two games, marking the first time in her career that she was not in the lineup when Santa Barbara took the court. Prior to the knee injury she suffered Jan. 11, Fears had played in everyone of a possible 46 games over the last two seasons. The Palmdale, Calif. native was one of only two players to appear in all 30 games for UCSB in 2005-06, strarting 29, and had been in the starting lineup in all 16 of the Gauchos' contests so far this season. Fears, who is averaging 8.4 points, 3.3 points, and 1.5 rebounds in 2006-07, is listed as probable for Thursday's game against Cal State Northridge.

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 week's match-ups with Cal State Northridge and Pacific, UCSB will remain at home to take on nationally ranked Stanford and future Big West foe UC Davis next week. The Gauchos will host the Cardinal Thursday, Feb. 1 at 7:00 p.m. and then entertain the Aggies Saturday, Feb. 3 at 2:00 p.m.