UCSB Returns Home to Host Weber State, Loyola Marymount This Week

UCSB Returns Home to Host Weber State, Loyola Marymount This Week

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Dec. 6, 2006

The Schedule

Game No. 8
Thursday, December 7, 2006 at 7:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. Weber State Wildcats
The Thunderdome (6,000)

Game No. 9
Saturday, December 9, 2006 at 3:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. Loyola Marymount Lions
The Thunderdome (6,000)

This Week
The UC Santa Barbara women's basketball team returns from its only out-of-state road trip of the regular season to host a pair of contests this week at the Thunderdome. Thursday evening the Gauchos will play Weber State for the third time in program history. After their pairing with the Wildcats, the Gauchos will remain at home as they host Loyola Marymount in a Saturday afternoon match-up. UCSB will be looking to avenge 2005 road losses against both teams: they fell to the Wildcats 72-63 November 28, 2005 and dropped a 79-52 decision to the Lions on December 11, 2005.

The Gaucho Record
UCSB enters competition this weekend with an overall record of 2-5. After recovering from a devastating 105-44 loss at No. 1 Maryland on Saturday the Gauchos posted their second win of the season over Richmond on Monday, 51-49. UCSB won its 12th season opener in the last 13 years with an 82-65 victory over Portland State to tip-off the season the 2006-07 campaign Nov. 10, but then proceeded to lose five straight. UCSB fell in consecutive games to Pac-10 schools, UCLA and Oregon, before dropping a pair of home games two weeks ago 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 contests with both Weber State and Loyola Marymount, 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 Rebounds From Loss at No. 1 Maryland With Second Win of Season
UCSB suffered its worst loss in 20 seasons last Saturday when they were overcome by No. 1 Maryland, 105-44 on the road at the Comcast Center. The 61-point defeat was the biggest since February 12, 1987 when the Gauchos fell 115-50 to Long Beach State. Junior center Jenna Green led the Gauchos with 17 points on 7-of-13 shooting. Marissa Coleman, the 2006 ACC Rookie of the Year, posted the first triple-double in Maryland history with 15 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists to lead the Terrapins in the win. Sophomore guard Whitney Warren added six points for the Gauchos while freshman Jordan Franey had a team-high five rebounds. On Monday, UCSB was able to rebound and posted its second win of the season at Richmond breaking a five-game losing streak. Three players posted double figures to lead the Gauchos to the victory: Green had a team-leading 14 points while Franey posted 11, and freshman Ariana Gnekow tallied 10. For the Spiders, Danielle Bell had 12 points while Sarah Williams had 11. UCSB struggled early in the first half as the Spiders jumped out to a 7-0 lead before the Gauchos got on the board with a three by Franey. UCSB climbed back into the game and Fears brought the Gauchos within one at 22-21 with a three-pointer. Trailing 28-25 heading into the locker room at halftime, the Gauchos came out in the second half and battled through three ties. Down 49-48 with 1:46 left to play, Franey was fouled by Richmond's Bell. The freshman made both free throws to give the Gauchos a narrow 50-49 advantage. With just 15 seconds left, Franey collected an offensive rebound off of a missed jump shot from LaShay Fears. Franey was once again fouled and made one of two free throws for the final score of the game, sealing the win for UCSB at 51-49.

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 398-183 (.685) while at UCSB and an overall mark of 496-297 (.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 four wins from his 500th career victory and two shy of his 400th victory at UCSB.

Probable Starters - Notes
G - LaShay Fears - Grabbed a career-high seven rebounds in win over Richmond.
G - Whitney Warren - Second on the team averaging 33.2 minutes per game.
G - Jessica Wilson - Averaged just six points in the last two contests.
F - Jordan Franey - Tied for the team-lead with 10 three-point baskets.
C - Jenna Green - Has led the team in scoring in each of the last three games, averaging 17.3.

Probable Reserves - Notes
G - Ariana Gnekow - Scored career-high 10 points at Richmond Monday.
G - Meagan Williams - Went scoreless with three rebounds and a block against the Spiders.
G - Sha'Rae Gibbons - Played seven minutes in her first game back this season at No. 1 Maryland.
G - Kim Smith - Has played 17 minutes and has yet to attempt a field goal.
F- Ashley Hall - Walk-on has taken just two shots in 11 minutes this season.
C - Jessica Goble - Blocked a season-high two shots against North Carolina State Nov. 26.

Scouting the Wildcats
• The Gauchos will host Weber State in their first match-up of the week. Thursday's non-conference game will mark the third meeting between the two teams. The Wildcats lead the series with the Gauchos 2-0 and captured their last win over UCSB last season in 72-63 fashion in Ogden, Utah on Nov. 28, 2005.

• Weber State, which competes in the Big Sky Conference, is currently 4-3 on the season and suffered a pair of home losses last week. The Wildcats fell to Utah on Nov. 29, 77-43 and Southern Illinois this past Saturday, 69-65. It has recorded wins this season against Northwest Nazarene (95-70), Northern Iowa (69-68), at Utah State (72-55) and against Idaho (98-57). Weber State's first loss of the season was at the hands of Western Carolina in a 72-70 overtime decision. Through their first seven games of the season, the Wildcats are outscoring their opponents by a margin of 7.7 points per game, 73.1 to 65.4. Sara Tuomi leads Weber State in scoring with an average of 18.7 points per game and 7.7 rebounds while Chelsey Warburton is averaging 15.6 points.

Scouting the Lions
• On Saturday afternoon, UCSB will host non-conference opponent Loyola Marymount. The December 9 contest marks the twelth meeting between the Gauchos and the Lions with UCSB leading the all-time series 8-3. LMU won the last contest with a score of 79-52 on Dec. 11, 2005 in Los Angeles, Calif.

• The Lions enter the week with a 4-4 record after splitting a pair of games against fellow Big West members Cal Poly and UC Irvine. On Nov. 28, LMU secured a narrow 64-62 win over the Mustangs on the road but were not as lucky last Friday in Irvine, Calif. where they fell 79-59 to the Anteaters. The Lions have posted wins versus Toledo (56-53), at Long Beach State (61-38) and against American (67-62). LMU has suffered losses at Stanford (88-61), Xavier (75-65) and against Texas A&M (77-52) this season. Through eight games, the Lions have been outscored by their opponents, 66.8 to 60.6 points per game. They are, however, leading their opponents in free-throw shooting with a shooting percentage of .740 versus their opponents' .615. The Lions also lead their opponents in steals , 8.9 per game to 8.4. Jennifer Hall paces Loyola Marymount with 13.3 points and a team-leading 7.1 rebounds per game. Amanda Patton chips in 11.1 points per game. The Lions will host Hawai'i on Thursday before making the trip to Santa Barbara later in the week.

Green Machine
UCSB's most consistent offensive weapon in 2005-06, junior center Jenna Green has been getting it done in the post from the word go this season, as well. 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 week leading the Gauchos averaging 15.6 points and 7.9 rebounds per game through the season's first seven contests. She has led the team in scoring each of the last three games and a total of four times this year and is the only player on the roster who has scored in double-figures in each of Santa Barbara's first seven. The San Jose, Calif. native leads UCSB in shooting at 54.8% (46-84) and has also recorded a team-high eight blocks so far this season. After posting her second double-double of the year with 14 points and 13 rebounds against nationally-ranked Louisville Nov. 24 and then scoring a season-high 21 points, the third-highest total of her career and just three points off of her career-high two days later against North Carolina State, Green was the Gauchos' top performer in last week's games, as well. She did her best to keep Santa Barbara in the game at top-ranked Maryland with a team-high 17 points on 7-for-13 shooting and then led all scorers with 14 in the Gauchos' 51-49 win at Richmond Monday. Not only does Green lead the Gauchos from the field, but she leads by more than 17-percent and has made at least half of her shots in six of seven games this season.

On a Mission
One of the keys to the Gauchos' success in 2006-07 is getting consistent, aggressive play from junior guard Jessica Wilson. Through seven games, she leads or is second on the squad in numerous statistical categories, including points (14.9 per game), assists (3.8 per game), steals (14), three-point field goal percentage (31.6%), free throws (26) and free throw percentage (78.8%). The Sacramento, Calif. native is also averaging 5.1 rebounds per game, which is fourth on the team. Entering last week's road contests at No. 1 Maryland and Richmond, Wilson was one of two players to have scored in double-figures in each of the first five contests this season. 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 has struggled in her last four games however--averaging just 8.5 points, while making 11-of-45 shots overall (24.4%) and 2-of-11 from three-point range (18.1%). After shooting just 3-for-10 for six points and grabbing just one rebound in the loss to the Terrapins, the junior shot 2-for-13 --including 1-for-5 from beyond the the three point arc--for six points in Monday's win over the Spiders. She did pull down eight rebounds, which is a season high.

Fearless Fears
Sophomore guard LaShay Fears enters Thursday's showdown with Weber State averaging nine points per game, which is the third highest total on the squad, and is tied for the team-lead in three-point baskets with 10. She also leads UCSB averaging 35.4 minutes per game in 2006-07 and, along with Jenna Green, is one of just two Gauchos to have played 30 or more minutes in all seven games. In last Saturday's brutal 105-44 loss at No. 1 Maryland, Fears made just 3-of-13 shots, including 1-of-6 from three-point territory, and finished with just seven points. She did dish out three assists, haul in two rebounds, and collect a pair of steals against the nation's top team. The Palmdale, Calif. native scored just six in Monday's win at Richmond, but she grabbed a career-high seven rebounds and tied her previous career-best with four steals. Fears has scored in double-figures on two occasions this season, tallying a season-high 19 points on Nov. 17 against Oregon and she chipping in with 15 in the season's first game against Portland State.

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 two weeks ago. Against the Cardinals, Warren scored a career-high 18 points and added nine rebounds, equaling her second-highest total ever. Two days later, she came back with another solid effort as she had 13 points and six rebounds. The 13 points were her second most as a Gaucho and it marked the first time in her career that she had scored in double-figures in back-to-back games. She averaged just six points and 3.5 rebounds in last week's games at Maryland and Richmond.

This Jordan Likes the Three
One of a host of young players that has seen some quality minutes this season is freshman Jordan Franey. Not that she wouldn't be playing anyway as thin as the Gauchos are up front, but she enters Thursday's contest with Weber State averaging almost 30 minutes per game at 29.3. The San Diego native's career is off to a good start as she is averaging 8.4 points and 3.4 rebounds per game. While playing primarily at the three spot, Franey is tied for the team-lead in three-point baskets with 10 and leads the team with 36 attempts. In fact, she has attempted nearly twice as many three-pointers (36) as two-pointers (22). She had season-highs of 12 points and four three-pointers in the 87-62 loss at UCLA Nov. 12. Franey finished with 11 points and six rebounds in Monday's win at Richmond.

Gnekow Continues to Grow
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 North Carolina State and then scored a career-high 10 points on 3-of-5 shooting and hauled in seven rebounds in UCSB's win over Richmond Monday. Coming off the bench, Gnekow is now averaging 5.1 points and 5.3 rebounds per game, second on the team. She has had five or more rebounds in five of the team's seve games.

UCSB Lands 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.