Nov. 28, 2007
Game No. 6
Thursday, November 29, 2007 @ 7:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos (2-3) at Santa Clara Broncos (4-2)
The Leavey Center (4,500)
Whats On Tap
After a tremendous performance in a 75-71 loss to No. 3 Maryland in the Thunderdome last Friday, the UC Santa Barbara women's basketball team opens a three-game road trip at Santa Clara this week. The Gauchos will look to pick up their second straight victory away from home when they battle the Broncos Thursday at 7:00 p.m. in their only game of the week. UCSB will then play two games in Oregon next week, squaring off with Portland State December 6 followed by a tilt with the University of Oregon two days later. Both of those contests are scheduled to tip-off at 7:00 p.m., as well.
For the Record
UCSB dropped its only game over the holiday weekend and fell to 2-3 after coming up just short against the undefeated Terrapins at home. The Gauchos, who have won both of their games following a loss this season, will look to climb back to the .500 mark against Santa Clara on Thursday. Santa Barbara was 19-14 overall in 2006-07 and finished second in the Big West Conference standings for the first time in 12 years at 10-4. UCSB was a very impressive 10-4 on the road last season.
Gauchos on the Air & Web
Thursday's contest with the Broncos, along with every other UCSB women's basketball game in 2007-08, will be broadcast live on KIST 1340 AM in Santa Barbara. "Showtime" Steve Wendt is back for his fourth season as the play-by-play voice of the Gauchos and he will have the call live from Santa Clara's Leavey Center. Fans can also 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. Finally, the UCSB-SC tilt will be available on GameTracker for individuals that wish to follow the action that way.
Gauchos Give Third-Ranked Terrapins A Run For Their Money
After enduring a 61-point loss at the University of Maryland's Comcast Center in December of last season -- the program's worst defeat since 1987 -- the Gauchos gave the undefeated Terrapins all they could handle in the Thunderdome last Friday. UCSB held a 42-39 lead with 13:24 remaining and battled Maryland down to the wire before falling in the end, 75-71. Marissa Coleman scored 30 points to lead the Terps to their seventh straight victory, while Chisa Ononiwu scored a season-high 20 points for the Gauchos. Santa Barbara outshot the visitors 41.7% to 38.3% and lost by just four to a Maryland squad that had won its six previous games by an average of 26.5 points per night. The Gauchos proved to be the Terrapins biggest challenge so far this season, battling back from a 13-point first half deficit to take the lead less than seven minutes into the second period. Maryland had not won a game by less than 10 points entering Friday's contest, and its smallest margin of victory was a 76-66 win over No. 6 Oklahoma November 11. The loss came despite double figure scoring efforts from Santa Barbara's three seniors, as Jenna Green scored a season-high 16 points and Jessica Wilson chipped in with 12 to go with Ononiwu's 20.
Offense Rounding Into Form
After the Gauchos shot a combined 32.6% (42-129) in their first two games of the 2007-08 season, UCSB has turned things around over the last three, shooting 43.8%, 47.4%, and 41.7% from the field, respectively. And the same Santa Barbara offense that averaged 57.3 points against BYU, USC, and No. 14 Arizona State has now scored 79 and 71 against Loyola Marymount and No. 3 Maryland in the last two games. While the Gauchos did not have enough to pull off the upset of the undefeated Terrapins, there was certainly plenty to smile about from an offensive standpoint. Santa Barbara finished the game shooting 82.4% (14-of-17) from the foul line and hit seven shots from beyond the three-point arc, both of which were season highs. The Gauchos also record a season-best 17 assists on 25 made baskets in the narrow loss to the Terps
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 417-195 (.681) while at UCSB and an overall mark of 515-309 (.625). 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.
UCSB vs. the WCC
UCSB has had moderate success against the West Coast Conference over the years, posting an all-time record of 37-27 (.578) vs. the eight current members of the WCC. The Gauchos have been much better against their West Coast foes lately, however, recording an 8-3 mark (.727) over the last six seasons, with all three losses coming against Loyola Marymount. UCSB has faced at least one WCC opponent every year since the 1999-2000 season and leads the all-time series with every school in the conference except Pepperdine (12-12), Portland (0-0), and the University of San Francisco (0-5). The Gauchos have already faced LMU this season and came away with a 79-69 win on November 19 in Los Angeles. Santa Barbara will have two more opportunities against members of the West Coast Conference, hosting Pepperdine December 17 in addition to Thursday's match-up at Santa Clara.
At first glance you might think the Gauchos have been struggling on the defensive end of the floor this season considering the fact that UCSB has allowed 61, 63, 66, 69, and 75 points in their first five games to this point. But despite that ugly trend, the Gauchos have actually improved defensively as of late, holding the opposition to a progressively lower field goal percentage in each of the last three games. Arizona State finished 25-of-57 from field, 43.9%, but Santa Barbara limited Loyola Marymount to just 39.7% shooting (25-63) in its next contest and then held No. 3 Maryland to just 38.3% from the field (18-47) last Friday. And after the Sun Devils made half of their shots from behind the three-point arc on November 17, UCSB's next two opponents finished 9.1% (1-11) and 31.8% (7-22), both of which were very respectable numbers. While UCSB is just 2-3 so far this season, both the defense and offense are starting to click which is a great sign moving forward.
Probable Starters - Notes
G - Lauren Pedersen - Grabbed a season-high five rebounds in 15 minutes against Maryland.
G - Chisa Ononiwu - Hit 4-of-8 three-pointers and scored a season-high 20 points vs. Maryland.
G - Jessica Wilson - Averaging 10.4 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.0 assists through five games.
F- Whitney Warren - Started the last two games after coming off the bench in previous two.
C - Jenna Green - Was 5-for-6 and scored a season-high 16 points in Friday's loss to the Terrapins.
Probable Reserves - Notes
G - Sha'Rae Gibbons - Second of the team averaging 11.0 points per game this season.
G - Ariana Gnekow - Leads the Gauchos' reserves shooting .444 from the field this season.
G - Meagan Williams - Recorded 4 points and 4 rebounds in 13 minutes last week.
F - Kat Suderman - Was just 2-for-8 for 4 points in 75-71 loss to the Terps.
F - Jordan Franey - Was 3-for-6 for 6 points and hauled in 3 rebounds at Arizona State Nov. 17.
F- Ashlee Brown - Leads UCSB's freshmen averaging 2.6 points per game.
F - Margaret Johnson - Played a total of 4 minutes against LMU and Maryland.
C - Jessie Goble - Went 2-for-2 and scored a career-high 4 points against USC November 11.
Scouting the Broncos
UCSB hits the road again this week and will play the first of three straight away from home at Santa Clara Thursday night. As mentioned above, the Gauchos have had success against several programs from the WCC over the years and lead the all-time series with the Broncos 3-2. The two schools have not squared off since meeting in the final game of the 1992 Santa Clara Diet Pepsi Shootout and the Broncos got the better of the Gauchos in that one, posting an 82-51 victory. Santa Barbara's last victory in the series came back in 1987, when UCSB defeated Santa Clara 68-54 in the Thunderdome.
Head coach Michelle Bento-Jackson's squad return nine letterwinners and two starters from last year's team that posted an overall record of 13-17 and finished sixth in the West Coast Conference standings at 5-9. Santa Clara was knocked out of the WCC Tournament in the first round after suffering a 65-49 loss to Loyola Marymount.
Santa Clara enters Thursday's contest with an overall record of 4-2 after defeating fellow Big West foe Long Beach State 70-55 in the Leavey Center on Sunday. The Broncos are averaging 62.5 points through six games this season, while limiting the opposition to 55.5 per night and their four victories have come by an average of 13.8 points. Santa Clara is 2-0 at home in 2007-08 and won those two contests by an average of 18.5 points. Three Broncos are averaging double figures entering Thursday's game, with senior forward Jen Gottschalk leading the way at 17.5 points per game. She is is shooting a team-high 54.2% from the field and is second on the team hauling in 6.2 rebounds per contest. Last season's WCC scoring champion Candice Cronk is second averaging 13.3 points and leads the team in minutes played at 37.2 per game, while shooting 40.5% (15-37) from behind the tree-point arc. Junior guard Elizabeth Doran is averaging 11.8 points and 4.0 rebounds.
Ononiwu Grabs Big West Player of the Week Honors
Chisa Ononiwu took home UCSB's first Big West Conference Player of the Week award of the season on Monday after averaging 18.5 points and 5.0 rebounds in the Gauchos' contests against Loyola Marymount and third-ranked Maryland. Ononiwu broke out of her shooting slump against the Lions November 19, scoring 17 points on 6-for-9 shooting to lead UCSB to its first road victory of the season and first win over LMU in seven years. The Houston, Tex. native was also 3-for-4 from three-point territory and grabbed two rebounds and dished out two assists in the 79-69 win. Ononiwu was even better against the undefeated Terrapins Friday, tallying a season-high 20 points on the strength of 4-of-8 shooting from behind the three-point line. She finished 6-of-14 overall from the field and hauled in a team-high eight rebounds as the Gauchos nearly pulled off what would have been an incredible upset of undefeated Maryland. For the week, the 5-foot-7 guard shot 52.2% from the field, 58.3% from beyond the three-point arc, and knocked down 6-of-7 free-throws, 85.7%. Through five games Ononiwu is third on the team averaging 10.8 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 1.6 assists. She leads UCSB with eight three-pointers made and is averaging a team-high 31.0 minutes per game in 2007-08.
With three games under her belt since returning to the lineup at Arizona State November 17, Jenna Green is getting her legs back and starting to dominate the opposition once again. After tallying a team-high 12 points, three rebounds, and three blocks against the 14th-ranked Sun Devils, the San Jose, Calif. native finished with an incredible stat line of 14 points, 12 rebounds, five blocks, and two steals two days later to lead Santa Barbara to an impressive win over Loyola Marymount. That performance marked Green's 11th-career double-double and the five blocks were one shy of her career mark of six that came at Cal Poly January 6, 2007. The 6-foot-4 center had another good game in last week's loss to Maryland, scoring a season-high 16 points after finishing 5-of-6 from the field. She was also a perfect 6-for-6 at the free-throw line. A two-time All-Big West First Team selection, Green was named preseason all-conference again before the start of the season after leading the Gauchos in scoring (16.6), rebounding (7.1), and blocked shots (1.7) for the second consecutive year. Green also led the Big West shooting 53.7% from the field last season and was the only player to start all 33 games for UCSB in 2006-07.
While her scoring is down from the career-best 13.0 points per game she averaged in 2006-07, senior guard Jessica Wilson has been quietly getting it done for the Gauchos this season nonetheless, contributing in virtually every area of the game. The Sacramento, Calif. native leads the team averaging 5.8 rebounds and 3.0 assists and is also UCSB's top three-point shooter, knocking down triples at a 41.7% (5-12) clip. In terms of scoring, Wilson ranks fourth on the squad, averaging 10.4 points per night. She is second averaging 26.2 minutes per contest and her .450 overall shooting percentage is all second. Wilson finished 4-of-8 from the field, including 2-of-4 on threes, for 12 points in Santa Barbara's narrow 75-71 loss to No. 3 Maryland last week. She also tallied five rebounds and dished out four assists.
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 Friday, November 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 entering 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 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.