March 10, 2008
IRVINE, Calif. - After winning a 12th Big West Conference regular season title in the last 13 years, the UC Santa Barbara women's basketball team had a total of four players selected to all-conference teams, the league office announced Monday. Senior Jessica Wilson was named the 2007-08 Big West Player of the Year after earning her first-career first team selection.
Wilson led the Gauchos in both scoring and rebounding during the regular season, averaging 12.7 points and 6.4 rebounds, respectively to earn a spot on the six-player All-Big West First Team. Appearing in 27 of UCSB's 28 games and starting all but two, Wilson reached double figures a total of 17 times in 2007-08 and had five performances of 20 or more. The Sacramento, Calif. native ranked in the Big West's Top 10 in five statistical categories, including scoring, rebounding, and steals and racked up five double-doubles during the year. Wilson scored a season-high 26 points and hauled in 10 rebounds on senior day last Saturday, guiding the Gauchos to a come-from-behind victory over Long Beach State.
The senior guard becomes the first Gaucho to earn Big West Player of the Year honors since Kristen Mann (2001-05) received the honor in her final season at UCSB in 2005 and 10th overall. Wilson earned All-Big West Second Team accolades as a sophomore and a junior.
Joining Wilson on the first team was Kat Suderman, who had a career year after redshirting the 2006-07 campaign to recover from knee surgery. The junior forward appeared in 26 games for UCSB and averaged career-high in points (10.8), rebounds (4.9), field goal percentage (.473), blocked shots (19), and minutes per game (22.0). Suderman scored 10 or more 16 times during the regular season, leading the Gauchos to a record of 14-2 in those contests. Santa Barbara's second-leading scorer and rebounder, Suderman posted her first-career double-double at Cal State Fullerton February 7, tallying 15 points and 11 boards and scored a career-high 22 points on 11-for-14 shooting in the Gauchos' win at UC Irvine two days later.
Another player that had a career year for UCSB in 2007-08 was Sha'Rae Gibbons and the junior guard took home All-Big West Honorable Mention honors for her performance. One of five Gauchos to appear in all 28 games during the regular season, Gibbons ranked third on the team averaging 9.5 points per game, while dishing out 3.5 assists, a figure that ranks second. The Sacramento, Calif. native enters postseason play leading the team with 32 three-pointers made and is the Gauchos' top shooter from the free-throw line at 86%. Gibbons finished 8-of-12 from the field and scored a career-best 23 points at Pacific January 26.
Rounding out the all-conference awards was Ashlee Brown, who was named to the Big West All-Freshman squad. The 6-foot forward had an outstanding rookie campaign in the blue and gold, averaging 6.6 points and 4.3 rebounds in 28 games during the regular season. Brown leads the team shooting 49% from the field and has reached double figures a total of eight times in 2007-08. The native of Good Year, Ariz. posted her first-career double-double in the Gauchos' home loss to UC Davis on February 23, finishing with 11 points and a career-best 16 rebounds. She had an outstanding performance at UC Riverside the following week, tallying a career-high 22 points to lead Santa Barbara past the defending conference champions. UCSB clinched the Big West season title with the victory.
After finishing the regular season with an overall record of 21-7 - and an impressive mark of 15-1 in conference play - the Gauchos will begin their quest for a 10th Big West Tournament title in the last 12 years this Friday in the semifinal round against an opponent yet to be determined. Tip-off is slated for 12:00 p.m. at the Anaheim Convention Center.