UCSB Comes Home For Four Straight, Hosts Cal State Bakersfield Wednesday

Feb. 12, 2008

Complete Release in PDF Format Get Acrobat Reader

The Schedule
Game No. 22
Wednesday, February 13, 2008 at 7:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos (15-6) vs. Cal State Bakersfield Roadrunners (9-12)
The Thunderdome (6,000)

Saturday, February 16, 2008 at 2:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos (15-6, 10-0) vs. Cal Poly Mustangs (9-14, 6-4)
The Thunderdome (6,000)
Think Pink Game

Coming Attractions
After recording road victories over Cal State Fullerton and UC Irvine to start 10-0 in conference play for the first time since 2001-02, UC Santa Barbara comes home for the first of four straight games in the Thunderdome beginning this week. The Gauchos will begin their longest homestand of the season when they take on Cal State Bakersfield Wednesday night to wrap up their 2007-08 non-conference slate. After battling the Roadrunners, UCSB returns to Big West play when Central Coast rival Cal Poly comes to town on Saturday afternoon. Looking further down the road, Santa Barbara will host Pacific and UC Davis next week before traveling to defending conference champion UC Riverside Mar. 1. The Gauchos will play six of their final seven games at home to close out the regular season.

For the Record
With 10 straight wins to open Big West play, UCSB remains atop the leaderboard with a flawless record of 10-0. Off to their best league start in seven years, the Gauchos improved to 15-6 overall in 2007-08 with victories over the Titans and Anteaters and maintained at least a two-game lead over second place UC Riverside, which stands at 6-2 after an idle week. Beginning with the win over Ole Miss on Dec. 29, Santa Barbara has won its last 11 games -- the program's longest unbeaten streak since the aforementioned 2001-02 squad went 16-0 in Big West play and won 22 straight overall. The Gauchos posted 10-game winning streaks during both the 2003-04 and 2004-05 campaigns. UCSB enters Wednesday's match-up with a record of 5-2 at home this season.

Gauchos on the Air & Web
Both the contests this week, along with every other UCSB women's basketball game in 2007-08, will be broadcast live on KIST 1340 AM in Santa Barbara. Steve Wendt is in his fourth season as the play-by-play voice of the Gauchos and former UCSB and Los Angeles Lakers star Don Ford will handle the color commentary duties. UCSB's student radio station will also have the tilt with the Roadrunners and their broadcast can be heard live online at www.kcsb.org. If radio isn't your thing, you can watch all games live via the internet by going to www.bigwest.tv and purchasing the UCSB season package. For the third straight year the Big West Conference and CSTV are partnering to bring exclusive Big West Gaucho events to fans online. BigWest.TV offers on-demand access to LIVE coverage of Big West contests as well as press conferences, features, and Big West Championships. The Gaucho faithful can also follow all of the action live online with CSTV's GameTracker at www.UCSBgauchos.com.

11 and Counting
UCSB has been playing excellent basketball during its current unbeaten streak, winning the last 11 games by an average of 12.5 points per game. The Gauchos are averaging just under 72.5 points per night during the streak, which is over three points more than their season average of 69.1. Defensively, Santa Barbara has been even better, limiting the opposition to just 60.0 points per game, which is five points lower than the overall of 65.0 on the year. As a team, the Gauchos are shooting an even 45% over the last 11, while holding the opposition to just 39.1% from the field.

Gauchos Shoot Lights Out In Win At UC Irvine
UCSB shot a season-high 54.2% in its 77-69 win over UC Irvine Saturday, converting 32-of-59 shots from the field. The Gaucho starters finished a combined 26-for-42, 62%, with Kat Suderman (11-14) and Jessica Wilson (7-8) leading the way. While Santa Barbara was just 3-of-10 from the three point line, the Gauchos finished an incredible 29-of-49 inside the arc, 59.2%. The 54.2% clip for the game eclipsed UCSB's previous high of 53.8% that came in the 88-44 victory at Cal State Northridge Jan. 5. In fact, it was the Gauchos highest percentage from the field since they shot a scorching 56% in a 79-67 home win over Pacific Mar. 1 of last season. UCSB has shot better than 40% from the field in 11 of the last 12 games.

About The Coach
Mark French returned to his alma mater at the start of 1987-88 season and women's basketball at UC Santa Barbara has never been the same. In his 21st season as head coach of the Gauchos, French has had an immensely successful career, posting a record of 430-198 (.685) while at UCSB and an overall mark of 528-312 (.629). Since the 1991-92 campaign, a period spanning 16 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 three 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 was 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 and holds conference records for league wins and consecutive seasons at one school. French reached two major coaching milestones last season, winning his 400th victory at UCSB with a 78-67 Santa Barbara win over Pepperdine Dec.18 and then notched his 500th career victory overall when the Gauchos defeated Long Beach State Jan. 4.

Probable Starters - Notes
G - Sha'Rae Gibbons - Averaging 14.8 points and 3.0 assists over the last four games.
G - Lauren Pedersen - Is the conference leader dishing out 4.7 assists per game in league play.
G - Jessica Wilson - Leads the Gauchos averaging 12 points and 6.5 rebounds this season.
F - Jordan Franey - Tallied season-highs of 13 points and 8 boards in win over Fullerton.
F - Ashlee Brown - Shooting a team-high 52.3% from the field this season.

Probable Reserves - Notes
G - Chisa Ononiwu - Averaging just 7.6 minutes per game over the last five.
G - Meagan Williams - Finished with 4 points and 4 rebounds in 11 minutes vs. Titans.
G - Ariana Gnekow - Was scoreless in a total of six minutes last week.
F - Whitney Warren - Suspended for last two for a violation of team rules, will play Wednesday.
F - Margaret Johnson - Posted career-highs with 8 points, 7 rebounds in 18 minutes at Irvine.
F - Kat Suderman - Will likely sit out Wednesday's game to rest knees.
C - Jessie Goble - Tied a career-mark with 4 points in UCSB's win over Anteaters.

Board Games
The Gauchos absolutely dominated the glass in their win over Cal State Fullerton last week, out-rebounding the Titans 56-24 for the game. In fact, UCSB recorded 24 boards on the offensive end alone, matching Fullerton's total. At +32, it was Santa Barbara's most lopsided rebounding margin of the season and shattered the previous high of +26 that came in the Gaucho's win over Santa Clara on Nov. 29. While the margin wasn't nearly as convincing in Saturday's at UC Irvine, UCSB still came away with a 34-33 edge on the boards to improve to 12-1 when out-rebounding its opponent in 2007-08. Flipping the coin, the Gauchos are just 2-5 when the opposition controls the glass. Santa Barbara has won the battle of the boards in all but two games during its 11-game winning streak.

Quick Hits
UCSB improved to a perfect 13-0 when leading at halftime this season after Saturday's win at UC Irvine...The Gauchos are 2-6 when trailing at intermission...Santa Barbara leads the Big West averaging just under 17 assists per game in conference play...UCSB has recorded at least 12 assists in 18 straight games and is averaging 17 per game during the current 11 game unbeaten streak...A total of seven players have led the Gauchos in scoring this season...Sha'Rae Gibbons and Kat Suderman have all led the way five times apiece...Four players reached double figures against Cal State Fullerton for the first time since Jan. 19 at Cal Poly...UCSB is 5-0 when four players score 10 or more this season...Santa Barbara has been very successful in close games in 2007-08, posting a record of 10-2 in games decided by 10 points or less and a 2-1 mark in contests decided by five or less...UCSB ranks 37th in the nation with an overall rebounding margin of +5.5.

Scouting the Roadrunners
• Santa Barbara will take a brief break from Big West Conference play to battle Cal State Bakersfield Wednesday night in the Thunderdome in the first-ever meeting between the two programs. Head coach Tim La Kose welcomes back two starters and five total letterwinners from last year's squad that went 23-6 overall in its transition year to NCAA Division I.

• Bakersfield has been fairly successful in its first full season as an DI squad and enters Wednesday's contest with an overall record of 9-12 after falling 69-62 to UC Riverside on Saturday. Junior guard Kelly Tarver paces the Roadrunner offense and ranks 39th in the nation averaging 17.8 points per game. She comes in shooting 37.4% from the floor overall and 35.2% from behind the arc. Fellow back court running mate Christine Kepenekian is second on the team averaging 12.1 points and 6.0 rebounds per night. Senior forward Naomi Johnson and junior guard Krista Arase are also averaging double figure points on the season at 11.6 and 11.1, respectively. Johnson leads the squad hauling in 8.4 rebounds while shooting over 50% from the field and Arase is CSUB's assist leader at 5.2 per game. As a team, Bakersfield shoots 40.5% from the floor and averages 74.4 points per game. Defensively the Roadrunners have allowed an average of 76.5 points and a 45.6% clip from the field.

• In addition to Riverside, CSUB has faced four other Big West teams in 2007-08, going 2-3 in those games. The Roadrunners defeated Cal State Northridge 69-65 on Dec. 19 and recorded a 64-59 victory over Cal Poly Jan. 17. They lost 74-61 at UC Irvine on Nov. 20 and dropped a 77-75 home decision to Cal State Fullerton Jan. 26.

Rock Steady
Jessica Wilson struggled from the floor in the Gauchos' win at Cal State Fullerton last week -- finishing with a season-low three points on 0-for-9 shooting -- but she had an impact on the game in many other areas. The senior guard finished with her third double-digit rebounding effort in four games with 10 boards, while racking up five assists and two steals. Two days later at UC Irvine, she bounced back from her off-scoring night, finishing with a season-high 21 points on 7-for-8 shooting to go with six rebounds, three assists, and two steals. For the season, the Sacramento, Calif. native leads the team averaging 12.0 points and 6.5 rebounds per game and is third dishing out 2.7 assists. She has been very impressive from the field in 2007-08, shooting 46.2%, which ranks third on the team. Wilson has been a big reason why Santa Barbara has not lost in Big West play this season, averaging 14.8 points and a team-high 7.7 rebounds against conference foes. She currently ranks seventh in the conference in scoring, fourth in rebounding, fourth in steals, and ninth in field goal percentage. UCSB is 10-3 when Wilson reaches double figures this season.

Kat Tales
Kat Suderman had two outstanding performances against Cal State Fullerton and UC Irvine and was named the Big West Conference Player of the Week for her performance. She posted her first double-double of the season and third of her career against the Titans, finishing with 15 points and a season-best 11 rebounds in just 23 minutes. The San Luis Obispo, Calif. native was absolutely dominant against the Anteaters as well, scoring a career-high 22 points on 11-for-14 shooting. The 11 field goals made was also a new career mark and she scored 22 points in just 22 minutes of action. For the week, Suderman averaged 18.5 points and six rebounds on the way to her first career Player of the Week honor. She has now scored in double figures in 13 of the last 15 games, leading UCSB to a record of 12-3 over that span. On the season, Suderman is second on the squad averaging 11.3 points and 5.0 rebounds per game and also ranks second in terms of field goal percentage, at 48.4%. The 6-foot-4 forward is averaging career highs in points, rebounds, blocked shots, field goal percentage, and minutes played this season and leads the team averaging 14.8 points in Big West contests.

Rae of Light
Sha'Rae Gibbons continued to give opposing team fits last week, averaging 13.0 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 3.0 assists in UCSB's wins over Fullerton and Irvine. She led all scorers with 19 points on 7-for-10 shooting against the Titans and regained her three point touch, finishing 3-of-4 from behind the line. In Saturday's win over the Anteaters, Gibbons finished with just seven points but hauled in a career-high five rebounds to go with three assists. The 5-foot-7 guard is averaging career-highs of 10.1 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 3.2 assists in 27.2 minutes per game this season. She has reached double figures in three of the last four games and leads the team shooting 82.4% from the free-throw line.

Answering the Call
With Whitney Warren suspended for the last two games, the coaching staff turned to Jordan Franey to fill the void and the sophomore forward more than responded to the challenge. Making her first start since Nov. 11 against Cal State Fullerton, Franey finished with season-highs of 13 points and eight rebounds in 28 minutes. She also added two assists and two steals and played excellent defense on the Titans' Toni Thomas, limiting the Big West's leading scorer to well below her season average. The San Diego native was 2-of-3 from the field and finished with five points in Santa Barbara's win over UC Irvine on Saturday. Franey is now averaging 4.2 points and 2.2 rebounds in 15.1 minutes per game this season.

Milestone Watch
With a driving layup with 2:38 remaining in UCSB's 73-61 win over defending Big West Conference champion UC Riverside Jan. 31, senior guard Jessica Wilson became the 22nd player in program history to score 1,000 points for her career. The Sacramento, Calif native began the season with 774 career points -- 402 of which came last year -- and has scored a total of 253 through 21 games in 2007-08. With 24 points last week against Cal State Fullerton and UC Irvine, Wilson passed Lori Sanchez (1979-83) for 21st on UCSB's all-time scoring charts and now needs just eight points to pass Mary Ann McLaughlin (1976-79) for the 20th spot. Wilson joins teammate Jenna Green as a member of the elite 1,000 point club and they became the first duo to reach the plateau together since Kristen Mann and Mia Fisher did so in 2003-04 and 2004-05. Green scored her 1,000-career point against Cal Poly on February 17, 2007.

Gauchos Picked To Finish Second In Preseason Polls
For the first time in over a decade the Gauchos were not selected to win the Big West Conference regular season title by either the coaches or the media in voting conducted at the league's annual media day Oct. 25. UCSB finished second in both polls behind regular season and conference tournament champion UC Riverside, who received eight first place votes and 64 total points to capture the top spot in the preseason coaches' poll. Santa Barbara received one first place vote and 57 points, finishing a unanimous second. UC Davis was chosen to finish third with 44 points, while Cal Poly received the fourth place nod with 41. Long Beach State, Cal State Fullerton, Pacific, Cal State Northridge, and UC Irvine followed rounding out the poll. In the media poll, the Gauchos received one first place vote and 81 total points to finish second behind the Highlanders, who garnered nine first place votes and 89 points. Complete results of the voting can be seen at the bottom left of this page.

Green, Wilson Tabbed Preseason All-Conference
When the media selected a Preseason All-Big West Team at this year's annual media day, UCSB had two players selected, marking the sixth consecutive year a Gaucho made the squad. Senior center Jenna Green earned one of the six spots for a third consecutive year after earning All-Big West First Team honors last season. The San Jose, Calif. native led the Gauchos in points (16.6), rebounds (7.1), and blocked shots (1.7) for the second straight year, while shooting a league-best 53.7% from the field in 2006-07. Green was the only player to start all 33 games for UCSB last season. Also earning a nod for the preseason all-conference squad was senior guard Jessica Wilson. Wilson led the Big West averaging 4.5 assists and finished in the conference's top 10 in six major statistical categories. The Sacramento, Calif. native earned a second consecutive Second Team All-Big West selection after averaging 13.0 points and 6.7 rebounds in 31 games a year ago.

UCSB Inks Two For 2008-09
UC Santa Barbara signed a pair of high school seniors to National Letters of Intent during the early signing period, head coach Mark French announced Nov. 16. Emilie Johnson, a 5'6" point guard from Roseville, Calif. and Megan Kritscher, a 6'3" forward from Woodland, Calif. will join the Gauchos for the 2008-09 season as true freshmen. Johnson is in her senior season at Del Oro High School in Roseville, where she was named the 2006-07 Sierra Foothill League MVP after averaging 15.1 points, 5.0 rebounds, 4.2 assists, and 3.2 steals, while shooting 43% from the field as a junior last season. The only junior to earn a spot on the Sacramento Bee All-Metro First Team, Johnson led the Golden Eagles to 26-2 record and a third consecutive SFL championship a year ago. She is a three-time all-league selection and was named the Sonora Kiwanis Tournament MVP as a sophomore in 2006. Kritscher signs with UCSB after averaging 12.6 points, 11.5 rebounds, and 5.5 blocked shots per game as a junior at Pioneer High School last season. An All-Tri-County League selection, Kritscher scored a career-best 22 points while hauling in 11 rebounds and blocking three shots to lead the Patriots to a 44-30 victory over rival Woodland High School last year and recorded a career-high 10 blocks in a game against Inderkum. She was also an all-league performer in volleyball for PHS last season.