November 29, 2006

Gauchos Continue Difficult Preseason Schedule, Travel to Top-Ranked Maryland

Nov. 29, 2006

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The Schedule
Game No. 6
Saturday, December 2, 2006 at 4:00 p.m. (PST)
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos at No. 1 University of Maryland Terrapins
The Comcast Center (17,950)

Game No. 7
Monday, December 4, 2006 at 4:00 p.m. (PST)
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos at University of Richmond Spiders
The Robins Center (9,071)

This Week
The UC Santa Barbara women's basketball team embarks on its lengthiest, and one of its most challenging, road trips of the season. The Gauchos will leave early Friday morning for a pair of games on the Eastern Seaboard. On Saturday night, UCSB will play at the University of Maryland in the second meeting ever between the schools. It will mark the first time that the Gauchos will play the nation's top-ranked team during the regular season since they tangled with the University of Connecticut on Dec. 28, 1995. Santa Barbara will travel from College Park, Md., to Richmond, Va., for a Monday, Dec. 4 game against the University of Richmond Spiders. The Gauchos will play the Spiders for the fourth time and will try to avenge a defeat from last season. On Nov. 23, 2005, Richmond topped UCSB, in Santa Barbara, 61-55.

The Gaucho Record
UCSB enters competition this weekend with an overall record of 1-4, after falling 64-55 at the hands of North Carolina State on Sunday. The Gauchos won their 12th season opener in the last 13 years with a 82-65 victory over Portland State to tip-off the season the 2006-07 campaign Nov. 10, but have lost four in a row since. UCSB dropped consecutive games to Pac-10 schools, UCLA and Oregon, before dropping a pair of home games last weekend to 24th-ranked Louisville and North Carolina State. The Gauchos defeated Cal Poly Pomona by an 88-73 margin in their only preseason tune-up of the year. Last season UCSB finished with a 16-14 overall record and won a share of yet another Big West title with a 10-4 mark in conference play. The Gauchos advanced to the WNIT, where they fell 78-59 at Fresno State in the Preliminary Round.

UCSB on the Air & Web
Both of this weekend's games will be broadcast on KIST 1340 AM in Santa Barbara. The contest with both Louisville and NC State, along with every other UCSB women's basketball game in 2006-07, will be broadcast live. Steve Wendt is back for his third season as the play-by-play voice of the Gauchos alongside former Los Angeles Laker and UCSB star Don Ford, who will provide most of the color commentary. Broadcasts begin 15 minutes prior to tip-off with the "Gaucho Pregame Show". Fans can also catch all games live via the internet by going to www.ucsbgauchos.com and purchasing the "UCSB All-Access Pass". With this option hoops fans can enjoy live audio and video from the comfort of their homes courtesy of CSTV.

UCSB Falters In Second Half, Loses To North Carolina State
After taking a 30-23 lead into the locker room at halftime, the UC Santa Barbara women's basketball team was outscored 19-5 to open the second half and lost to North Carolina State 64-55 Sunday afternoon in the Thunderdome. Junior center Jenna Green led the Gauchos with a game-high 21 points in the loss. Khadijah Whittington scored a team-high 15 points for NC State. Sophomore guard Whitney Warren turned in another solid performance with 13 points for the Gauchos. Junior guard Jessica Wilson added 11 for the second consecutive game. Marquetta Dickens, Shayla Fields, and Nakitta Gartrell all put in 10 points for NC State. After Dickens hit a jumper to give the Wolfpack a 9-8 advantage at the 14:19 mark, Warren scored on a driving layup, Wilson hit a jumper and Warren came right back with another basket to give the Gauchos a 14-9 lead. UCSB led for the duration of the opening half after that and took its biggest lead at 30-21, following a pair of free throws from freshman Ariana Gnekow with 51 seconds remaining. The Wolfpack scored the first six points of the second half and out-scored the Gauchos 10-3 in the first 3:15 to tie the game at 33-33. Dickens' layup gave the visitors their biggest cushion of 11 at 50-39, with 7:51 to play. The Gauchos made one final push following a three pointer from freshman Jordan Franey to cut the deficit to just three once again at 57-54 with 3:41 left but that was as close as they would get. North Carolina State out-rebounded Santa Barbara 36-25 for the game, including 15 on the offensive glass, leading to a decisive 10-2 advantage in second chance points.

Mr. Gaucho
Mark French returned to his alma mater at the start of the 1987-88 season and women's basketball at UC Santa Barbara has never been the same. Now in his 20th season as head coach of the Gauchos, French has had an immensely successful career, posting a record of 397-182 (.686) while at UCSB and an overall mark of 495-296 (.626). Since the 1991-92 campaign, a period spanning 15 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 two 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 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. French is just five wins from his 500th career victory and three shy of his 400th victory at UCSB.

Probable Starters - Notes
G - LaShay Fears - Tied a career-high with four steals against North Carolina State.
G - Whitney Warren - Averaged 4.5 points per game in first two, 15.5 in the last two.
G - Jessica Wilson - Has scored in double-figures in all five games.
F - Jordan Franey - Tied for the team-lead with seven three-point baskets.
C - Jenna Green - Has made 21-of-33 shots in the last three games, 63.6%.

Probable Reserves - Notes
G - Ariana Gnekow - Freshman has had five or more rebounds in four of five games.
G - Meagan Williams - Had her first assist of the season in game against North Carolina State.
G - Kim Smith - Has played 14 minutes and is yet to attempt a field goal.
F- Ashley Hall - Walk-on has taken just one shot in 10 minutes this season.
C - Jessie Goble - Blocked a season-high two shots in Sunday's game against N.C. State.

Scouting the Terrapins
UCSB's first game of the week comes against the defending National Champion and Atlantic Coast Conference power, the University of Maryland. Friday's contest will mark the second meeting between the two schools. The Gauchos defeated the Terrapins in the only other meeting between the schools. On November 24, 1995, UCSB beat Maryland 68-52 in the Prairie Lights Classic in Iowa City, Iowa.

Maryland has a perfect 7-0 record and is the nation's top-ranked team entering the week. Over the weekend, the Terrapins posted wins over Gardner-Webb (83-41) and Mississippi (110-79) in the Junkanoo Jam on Grand Bahama Island. In addition to their Thanksgiving weekend victories, Maryland has recorded wins at Middle Tennessee State (80-76) and at home over George Mason (99-43), TCU (82-64) and George Washington (73-48). In fact, combined, the Terps battered the two Georges by a 172-91 count. Through seven games, Maryland is outscoring its opponents by a margin of 27.1 points per game, 86.0 to 58.9. It is also outrebounding opponents by 16.1 rebounds per game and as a team, it shoots 52.7% while allowing opponents a mere 35.6%. The one chink in the Terrapin armor is that they have more turnovers (143) than does their opposition (122). Shay Doron leads Maryland in scoring at 15.7 points per game and Crystal Langhorne is averaging 15.0 points and a team-leading 9.1 rebounds. In all, the Terps have six players averaging 8.4 points or more per game. They will play Marshall on Wednesday, November 29, their last game before the Gauchos come to town.

Scouting the Spiders
Following the contest at Maryland , UCSB will travel to Richmond, Va., to take-on the Atlantic10's University of Richmond. The Monday, Dec. 4 game will be the fourth meeting between the Gauchos and Spiders. Richmond, which holds a 2-1 edge in the all-time series, defeated UCSB last season, winning at the Thunderdome, 61-55, on November 23, 2005.

The Spiders enter the week with a record of 2-4 and they will play three more games, all away from home, prior to their game against the Gauchos. Their two wins this season came at Fairfield (59-48) and against Bucknell (58-40) in Cancun. They have dropped a road game to Connecticut (84-50), home games to William & Mary (67-54) and James Madison (62-58) and a decision to Drake (77-64) in Cancun. Through six games, Richmond is being outscored by its opponents, 63.0 to 57.2 points per agme. They are, however, winning the rebounding battle by slightly under one rebound per contest, 38.7 to 38.0. The Spiders are shooting 35.8% form the field while their opponents make 42.8. Richmond is averaging just 12.7 turnovers per game. Christina Campion paces her team in scoring at 12.0 points per gmae, and while she is the only player on the team averaging in double-figures, the Spiders do have three others averaging eight or more. Campion is also the top rebounder at 5.5 per game.

On a Mission
One of the keys to the Gauchos' success in 2006-07 is getting consistent, aggressive play from junior guard Jessica Wilson. So far so good. Through five games, she leads the UCSB in numerous statistical categories, including scoring (18.4 points per game), assists (4.6 per game), steals (11), three-point field goal percentage (38.5%), free throws (25) and free throw percentage (80.6%). She is also averaging 5.4 rebounds per game, fourth on the team. Wilson is one of two players to have scored in double-figures in each of the first five contests. She scored a career-high 30 points in the season-opener against Portland State and had her second-highest total of 28 on Nov. 17 against Oregon. Wilson did struggle last weekend in games against Louisville and North Carolina State. In those two contests, she averaged 11.0 points and 2.5 rebounds per game while making 6-of-22 shots overall (27.3%) and 1-of-5 from three-point range (20.0%). Wilson did make all nine of her free throw attempts on the weekend. Also, in Sunday's game against North Carolina State, she had just one assist, ending a streak of four straight games in which she had five or more, the longest such streak of her career.

Green Machine
While Wilson has been on a tear to start the season, junior center Jenna Green has been quietly getting it done in the post, not unlike all of last sason. After establishing career highs with averages of 14.4 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 1.2 blocked shots per game in 2005-06, Green enters competition this weekend second on the squad at 15.6 points per game and first in rebounds at 8.8 per game. Along with Wilson, she is one of two players on the roster who have scored in double-figures in each of the first five games. On Sunday, against North Carolina State, Green scored a season-high 21 points, the third-highest total of her career and just three points off of her career-high. On Friday against nationally-ranked Louisville, she posted her second double-double of the season with 14 points and 13 rebounds. The 13 rebounds tied her career-high. Green also has the distinction of not only leading UCSB in field goal percentage at 57.9%, but she is leading by more than 14-percent and has made half or more of her shots in all five games.

Fears Yes, Fearful No
Sophomore guard LaShay Fears is one of four UCSB players averaging in double-figures. Fears, who is averaging right at 10.0 points per game, is also tied for the team-lead in three-point baskets with seven. In Sunday's game against North Carolina State, the Palmdale, Calif., native injured her left hand in the first half and wound-up with just one shot and one point. She was 1-of-2 from the free throw line and both attempts were made with one hand. The injured hand, however, did not prevent Fears from doubling her steal total on the year as she tied her career-high with four, giving her eight on the season, second on the team. Fears entered the N.C. State game averaging 12.2 points per game. She has scored in double-figures on two occasions this season. She had a season-high 19 points on Nov. 17 against Oregon and she tallied 15 in the season's first game against Portland State. Finally, along with Jenna Green, she is one of two Gauchos to have played 30 or more minutes in all five games. In fact, Fears has played 35 or more in all five.

Quick Wit
Sophomore guard Whitney Warren missed UCSB's game against Oregon after suffering a concussion. She came back with her two best performances of the year in games against Louisville and North Carolina State. Against the Cardinals, Warren scored a career-high 18 rebounds and she added nine rebounds, equaling her second-highest total ever. On Sunday, she came back with another solid effort as she had 13 points and six rebounds. The 13 points were her second most ever and it marked the first time in her career that she had scored in double-figures in back-to-back games.

Air Jordan
At least at this point in the season, if you are a forward, you WILL see playing time for UCSB. Because of a variety of factors, the Gauchos are pretty thin up front. Now, that's not to say that freshman Jordan Franey wouldn't be playing anyway, she would, but she enters Saturday's game at top-ranked Maryland averaging more than 28 minutes per game ad she has played 24 or more in all five games. The San Diego native is off to a good start in her career as she is averaging 8.8 points and 2.6 rebounds per game. While playing primarily at the three spot, Franey is tied for the team-lead in three-point baskets with seven and she leads the team with 27 attempts. In fact, she has attempted nearly twice as many three-pointers (27) as two-pointers (15). Of her seven three-point buckets, six have come against teams which are either ranked (UCLA and Louisville) or among others receiving votes (North Carolina State). She had season-highs of 12 points and four three-pointers at UCLA.

Getting To Know Gnekow
Another freshman that has made an immediate impact so far in 2006-07 is Ariana Gnekow. She came in off the bench in UCSB's season opener and finished with five points and nine rebounds, six of which came at the offensive end of the floor, in just 20 minutes. After recording six points and five boards at UCLA, Gnekow earned her first career start in the game against Oregon and responded with nine points, eight rebounds, and three assists. She had four points and five rebounds against N.C. State on Sunday and is now averaging 5.8 rebounds per game, second on the team. Gnekow has had five or more rebounds in four of the team's five games.

Gauchos Land Three Prized Recruits
On Wednesday, November 8, UCSB announced the signing of three high school seniors to National Letters of Intent during this year's early signing period. Ashlee Brown, a 6'0" forward from Good Year, Ariz., a 5'11" guard Courtney Collishaw of Visalia, Calif., and Margaret Johnson, a 5'11" forward from Lake Oswego, Ore. will join the Gauchos next season as true freshmen. Brown was named to the 2005-06 Arizona Tribune First Team and garnered First Team All-Fiesta Region accolades after averaging 21 points, 16 rebounds, five steals, four assists, and three blocked shots per game as a junior at Chandler High School. Collishaw signs with UCSB after earning Cal-Hi Sports All-State Junior Second Team honors at Redwood High School. She was named to the CIF Central Section First Team after scoring 22.6 points per game a year ago. Johnson enters her final season at Lake Oswego High School having guided the team to a second place league finish in 2006 at 10-4 and an 18-8 overall record. In 2007-08 Santa Barbara will also gain the services of 5'10" guard Lauren Pedersen, a junior transfer from UCLA. A native of Brea, Calif., she played two seasons with the Bruins, averaging 2.5 points and 1.6 rebounds in 54 career games while making 11 starts during that span. Pedersen will have two years of eligibility at UCSB starting next season.

Gauchos Look To Start Streaking
2005-06 was a very disappointing year by UCSB standards. Finishing just 16-14 last season and losing in the WNIT First Round, Coach French and the Gauchos had a number of streaks broken that they will be looking to reestablish this year. UCSB saw its streak of nine consecutive Big West Tournament titles come to a crashing halt after a narrow loss to UC Riverside in the title game. That being said, Santa Barbara did not receive the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament and its string of nine-straight trips to the Big Dance was also severed. With a total of 16 victories, UCSB saw its span of 10 seasons with at least 20 wins broken, as well. Finally, although the Gauchos did win the Big West regular season title, they shared the honor with Long Beach State, which snapped their streak of 10-straight outright conference championships--a run that was the longest in the nation. Needless to say, UCSB will aim to start a new set of streaks in 2006-07.

O'Bryan, Thomas Leave UCSB
On October 17, head coach Mark French announced that two key players would not be with the Gauchos in 2006-07. Guard Erin O'Bryan and forward Shantel Thomas both left the program citing personal reasons. O'Bryan, who appeared in 27 games for UCSB last season, averaging 6.9 points, 2.2 rebounds, and 1.5 assists, will not be back for her senior season. Thomas, on the other hand, is expected to return at some point, provided she maintains her eligibility. The Sacramento, Calif. native appeared in 25 games as a true freshman in 2005-06, averaging 2.5 ppg and 2.6 rpg in 11.2 minutes per contest.

Another Blow...
Less than a month later, the coaching staff was dealt more bad news when the decision was made that Kat Suderman will redshirt in 2006-07. The San Luis Obispo, Calif. native will be inactive this season as she rehabilitates from a knee surgery she had last spring. Suderman was one of only two players to appear in all 30 games last season, starting eight games for UCSB. She posted career-highs averaging 6.2 points and 6.1 rebounds in 21.2 minutes per game. Over the past two seasons, Suderman has appeared in a combined 56 games, more than any other Gaucho over that span.

Upcoming
Following their longest road trip of the season, the Gauchos will return home to face Weber State on Thursday, Dec. 7 and Loyola Marymount on Saturday, Dec. 9. After the two home games, UCSB will take eight days off for final exams.