March 10, 2006

Gauchos One Win Away from 10th Straight Big Dance Berth

Big West Conference Tournament • Anaheim, CA • Anaheim Convention Center (7,734)
Saturday, March 11, 2006 • Championship Game • 1:00 p.m.
#1 UC Santa Barbara (16-12) vs. #4 UC Riverside (15-14)

2005-06 Gaucho Record
16-12 overall/10-4 Big West Conference
10-3 home/5-9 away/1-0 neutral

Gauchos Have Won Their Last 26 Games in Big West Tournament Play
For the 10th consecutive year, the UC Santa Barbara women's basketball team finds itself in the Big West Conference Championship game, where it will face off against UC Riverside with an automatic berth in the 64-team NCAA Tournament at stake. The top-seeded Gauchos and fourth-seeded Highlanders (15-14 overall) met twice during the regular season, each winning on their respective home court. UCSB has captured the last nine Big West tourney titles dating back to 1997, during which it has earned 26 straight victories in the league's annual event.

Gauchos on the Air and Web
The Gaucho-Highlander clash will be air live on KIST 1340 AM with "Showtime" Steve Wendt handling the play-by-play duties and "$1.98" Don Ford serving as color commentator. Their broadcast begins 15 minutes prior to tip-off with the "Gaucho Pregame Show" and can also be heard live via the internet by pointing your browser to www.ucsbgauchos.com and purchasing the "UCSB All-Access Pass". Daniel Flores and Chris Hoffman are making the trip to Anaheim as well, and will call all the action on KCSB 91.9 FM. Finally, Fox Sports Net West 2 - Channel 37 in Santa Barbara - will televise Saturday's championship game live at 1:00 p.m. Paul Sunderland (play-by-play) and Tammy Blackburn (color commentary) form Fox's dynamic announcing team.

UCSB Fends off Hard-Charging Cal State Northridge 66-61 in Big West Semis
For the second straight year the Gauchos faced Cal State Northridge in the Big West Tournament Semifinals, and for the second time UCSB prevailed, winning 66-61 Friday in the Anaheim Convention Center. Santa Barbara led for the entire first half and took a slim 30-28 cushion into the locker room before opening a 45-34 advantage with 14:09 to play following Jenna Green's layup. However later in the period CSUN mounted an 8-0 run and enjoyed its first lead of the game at 52-51 with 6:32 remaining, and then pulled ahead 55-53 on Krisztina Fuleki's three-pointer a little over a minute later. The Gauchos responded with back-to-back baskets from freshmen LaShay Fears and Whitney Warren and would not trail again, but the Matadors closed back within 61-59 with just under a minute left. On the next trip down the court Santa Barbara's Jessica Wilson scored an old-fashioned three-point play, and her squad held on for the nail-biting victory.

UCSB Team Three-Dot Data...
Friday's win improved the Gauchos' overall record to four games above .500 for the first time all season...It was UCSB's first neutral-site game of 2005-06...Against CSUN, Santa Barbara reached the 50-rebound plateau for just the third time this year...Sophomore center Jenna Green poured in a personal best 24 points Friday, highest total by a Gaucho in any game this season...Her 12 field goals equaled the most by a UCSB player in Big West tourney play...She has scored in double-figures 23 times in 2005-06, and added 12 rebounds for her fifth career-double-double...The San Jose, Calif., native has now paced the UCSB offense on 15 occasions this season, and five times in the past six contests...LaShay Fears' 13-point effort vs. Northridge was her first double-digit performance in the last 10 games...She tallied Santa Barbara's first nine points of the second half Friday...Senior forward Autumn Nichols matched her career high of 10 rebounds in the Big West semifinal win.

Highlander Hullabaloo
UC Riverside is the Big West's hottest team, with eight consecutive victories entering Saturday's title game. One of those wins came on Feb. 23, when the Highlanders pulled ahead of UCSB in the final minute and held on for a 46-43 victory in the Student Recreation Center. It marked UCR's first win over the Gauchos in 10 games as Big West rivals, snapping its 13-game losing streak overall at the hands of Santa Barbara. UCSB still leads the all-time series 14-7. The Highlanders advanced to Saturday's Big West Championship game with a 73-63 quarterfinal win over Northridge and a 57-49 triumph over Long Beach State in semifinal action.

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