February 16, 2011

Gauchos Go For Win No. 37 in a Row vs. Fullerton on Thursday

Feb. 16, 2011

• The Schedule
Thursday, February 17, 2011, at 7:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara at Cal State Fullerton (8-17, 4-8)
at CSUF's Titan Gym (4,000)
Series record vs. the Titans - 45-21
Streak - Won 36
Last time out vs. the Titans - W, 69-32 @ UCSB (1/22/11)
Game broadcast streaming live online by clicking here and on AM 990 KTMS
Live stats available via Gametracker
Live video available through BigWest.TV

Sunday, February 20, 2011, at 2:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara vs. Seattle (7-18)
at UCSB's Thunderdome (6,000)
Series record vs. the Redhawks - First-ever meeting
Streak - N/A
Last time out vs. the Redhawks - N/A
Game broadcast streaming live online by clicking here and on AM 990 KTMS
Live stats available via Gametracker
Live video available through BigWest.TV

b>• On The Radio
All UC Santa Barbara basketball games are broadcast live in Santa Barbara on AM 990 KTMS and will stream live online by clicking here. Josh Suchon is the voice of the Gauchos, performing the play-by-play, while former Los Angeles Lakers and UCSB star Don Ford will handle the color commentary. On select road games, much to the chagrin of the listening audience, yours truly, Matt Hurst, will provide color commentary.

The Opponents

• at Cal State Fullerton, 2/17
In the first meeting between the teams, UCSB allowed just 32 points, the 10th-fewest points allowed in school history. Megan Richardson, who averages 15.1 points per game, was held to seven points on 2 of 11 shooting while Lyndsey Grove (13.3 points per game) was held to five points on 2 of 10 shooting.

• vs. Seattle, 2/20
Sunday's game will be the first-ever between the Redhawks and Gauchos. Seattle is led by Elle Kerfoot and her 12.7 points per game and Salena Dickerson's 11.2 points per game. Seattle has played eight common opponents as the Gauchos, going 2-7.

• Double Dippers
Mekia Valentine is averaging 10.2 rebounds per game, giving her the chance to become the first Gaucho since Erika Kienast in 1991-92 to average double figures in rebounds. But let's not stop there. Valentine has the chance to become the first UCSB player since Kienast in that season to average a double-double over a season. Valentine is scoring 10.7 points per game, second-most on the team.

• Tenacious D
As a team, UC Santa Barbara is holding opponents to a 34.8% shooting clip, the best mark in the Big West and 17th-best in the nation. UCSB is also allowing teams to score just 58.0 points per game, which is the lowest in the Big West and 67th in the country. In 12 of the Gauchos' games, the team has held an opponent under 35% from the floor.

• Gottlieb's Legacy: Defense
The fact that the Gauchos are one of the nation's preeminent defensive teams shouldn't be a shock because UCSB has been among the nation's best in the Lindsay Gottlieb era. In each of the past two seasons, UCSB has led the Big West in opponent's field goal percentage. Last season the squad ranked 31st in the nation with its 36.3% and in 2008-09 UCSB ranked eighth in the country with a 34.6% clip.

• Blocking Through the Big West
Mekia Valentine's career block total of 208 swats moved her into ninth place in Big West history. Valentine is just 12 blocks away from reaching triple digits this year and becoming just the fifth Big West player to post two 100-block seasons.

• Swat Team
This year's Gaucho squad has blocked 117 shots, already placing them all-time in school history. As a team, the Gauchos are averaging 4.88 blocked shots per game, the best mark among Big West schools - UC Riverside is next with 4.35 per game - and 27th in the nation. Last season UCSB finished sixth in the nation with an average of 6.3 swats per game and set a school record with 202 swats.

• Mekia's Block Party
Mekia Valentine leads the Big West with her 3.7 blocked shots per game and ranks fourth in the nation (St. Mary's Louella Tomlinson leads the country with 5.1 per game). Valentine is second all-time in career blocked shots and became just the second Gaucho to reach 200 career blocked shots. Currently, her 88 blocks this season are second-most in school single-season history. Valentine trails only Lindsay Taylor (2000-04) by 35 swats for the most all-time in school history. Last season the 6-foot-4 center blocked 120 shots, setting a new school record and her average of 4.0 per game ranked third in the country.

• The Heat Will Rock You
UC Santa Barbara leads the Big West in field goal percentage with a 42.6% clip. What's interesting about that is the Gauchos were at the bottom of the conference earlier this season with a 35.0% overall shooting percentage. UCSB's current field goal percentage ranks the team 54th in the nation.

• So You Know ...
The last time a Gaucho squad led the Big West in both field goal percentage and field goal percentage defense was the 2003-04 squad which hit 46.0% of its shots and limited opponents to a 35.9% shooting clip.

• We're a Boarding School
Santa Barbara is averaging 40.8 rebounds per game, which leads the Big West. The Gauchos hold a +4.8 rebounding margin, which also is tops among conference schools and 46th in the nation. It's largely due to Mekia Valentine and Sweets Underwood, who rank first and fifth, respectively, in the Big West with averages of 10.2 rebounds and 7.0 rebounds per game.

• On the Boards
Senior Mekia Valentine is pulling in 12.5 rebounds per conference game, which leads the conference. Valentine's 10.2 rebounds per game this season ranks her 26th in nation. In eight of her last 11 games, Valentine has pulled down double-digit rebounds and in that span is averaging 13.1 boards per game.

• Countdown to 1,000
Mekia Valentine has scored 256 points this season, giving her 977 in her career between Wake Forest and UCSB. While she will hit 1,000 career points in her collegiate career, she will not be a member of UCSB's 1,000-point club as not all of her buckets came as a Gaucho (she scored 351 points at Wake). The next likely member to join the 22-person 1,000-point club is Emilie Johnson, who has scored 945 total points in her Gaucho career.

• Balanced Attack
Looking through the Gauchos' roster, the team has an incredibly balanced attack, broken down by class. While Emilie Johnson and Kelsey Adrian make up the junior class, therefore giving them the highest amount of points, the rest of the team is fairly close in how many points they have contributed this season. (See chart, right).

• Biggest in the Big West
The Gauchos have dominated the conference for more than a decade. Since the 1995-96 season, UCSB is 222-30 (.881) in Big West games.

• RPI Report
In the most recent release of the Ratings Percentage Index by the NCAA, the Gauchos hold a No. 113 spot, which is the second-highest among Big West schools. UC Riverside has a 110 mark while this week's opponents, Cal State Fullerton and Seattle, hold ratings of 291 and 261, respectively.

• Sixty is Nifty
When scoring at least 60 points, the Gauchos are 13-3 this season.

• Tickling the Twine
A season after finishing second in school history with her 57.4% mark from the field, senior Mekia Valentine is at it again. Valentine is shooting at a 61.0% clip this season, which would top Kira Anthofer's school record shooting percentage of 59.6% in 1985-86. Valentine is currently leading the Big West in shooting percentage. In conference games, the Greensboro, N.C. native is shooting 67.0%.

• Making Moves
The Gauchos have received a pair of votes in this week's CollegeInsider.com Top-25 Mid-Major poll. UC Davis (No. 18) and Cal Poly (No. 24) are the other Big West teams that are represented in the poll.

• How Sweets It Is
With her career-high tying 15 points on Saturday, sophomore Sweets Underwood reached double figures for the first time since Jan. 15, a span of seven games. Underwood saw her points per game average drop from 9.9 to its current 8.7 in that time.

The Lindsay Gottlieb File
Lindsay Gottlieb is in her third season as the Gauchos' head coach, and she is just the fourth head coach in UCSB women's basketball history. Last season Gottlieb guided the Gauchos to wins in seven of the squad's last eight games, taking a team that finished 9-7 in the Big West to the conference tournament's semifinals, keeping alive a streak of 20 years that UCSB had finished Big West play with a record above .500. In her first season at the helm, Gottlieb led the team to a 22-10 overall mark (15-1 in the Big West) and the Big West regular-season and tournament championships. Named the Big West Coach of the Year, Gottlieb became the first coach in Gaucho history to win at least 20 games and the Coach of the Year award in her first season - and one of only seven coaches nationwide to do so. Gottlieb led the Gauchos to their 14th consecutive postseason appearance and the team won 20 games for the 12th time in the past 14 years. In her first two seasons with the program, Gottlieb has guided the Gauchos to national prominence, leading the conference in field goal percentage defense both years while having her team set a school record in free throw percentage (08-09) and blocked shots in a season (09-10).. No stranger to success, Gottlieb was formerly the associate head coach at Cal, helping the team to a 68-28 (.708) overall mark in her time there. Prior to that, Gottlieb was an assistant at the University of Richmond, where she helped the Spiders to three straight 20-win seasons.

The Gaucho Fund, launched as part of the Dare to Be Great strategic plan, is UCSB Athletics' annual giving program to provide vital funding support for scholarships, academic success and leadership development for Gaucho student-athletes. The Gaucho Fund is the anchor to the Dare to Be Great campaign.

GKids is the official kids club of UCSB Athletics. Members receive a free GKids t-shirt, free admittance to tons of Gaucho games, opportunities to be ball boys and girls at games, a special birthday greeting from Olie (the GKids mascot) and much, much more! For more information on GKids, or to become a member, please click here.