December 14, 2007

UCSB Returns To The Thunderdome To Face Pepperdine

Dec. 14, 2007

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The Schedule
Game No. 9
Monday, December 17, 2007 at 7:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos (3-5) vs. Pepperdine Waves (5-3)
The Thunderdome (6,000)

Welcome Back
After eight days off to take final exams, the UC Santa Barbara women's basketball team returns to the court Monday, December 17 and will face Pepperdine in its final home contest of the 2007 calendar year. Following three straight road contests, the Gauchos will play in Santa Barbara for the first time in over three weeks when they take on the Waves. Monday's game will be their first appearance in the Thunderdome since November 23 when they nearly upset third-ranked Maryland. The 23-day stretch in between home games is UCSB's longest such span since the 2003-04 season, when the Gauchos went a solid month in November and December without playing in the Thunderdome.

For the Record
Santa Barbara's trip to Oregon didn't exactly go as planned as the Gauchos lost both of their games in Portland to fall to 3-5 overall in 2007-08. After an impressive victory at Santa Clara on November 29, UCSB lost two in a row for the first time this season, dropping a 73-58 decision to Portland State at Concordia University's Cavalier Gymnasium before falling to the University of Oregon for the third time in the last two years with a 65-56 defeat in the 10th Annual Papé Jam in the Rose Garden. UCSB has played just three home games so far this season and owns a record of 1-2 in the friendly confines of the Thunderdome. The Gauchos were 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. Santa Barbara was just 8-9 at home last season.

Gauchos on the Air & Web
Monday's match-up with Pepperdine, 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 in his fourth season as the play-by-play voice of the Gauchos and former UCSB and Los Angeles Lakers star Don "Is This a Conference Game" Ford will handle most of the color commentary duties this season. UCSB's student radio station will also have Santa Barbara's tilt with the Waves live and their broadcast can be heard online at www.kcsb.org. If radio isn't your thing, you can 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. The Gaucho faithful can also follow all of the action live online with CSTV's GameTracker at www.UCSBgauchos.com.

Oregon Has UCSB's Number Again
If there's one team the Gauchos would care not to see again for a while, it's the University of Oregon. After falling at the hands of the Ducks on December 8, UCSB has now lost to Oregon twice in its last nine games dating back to 2006-07 and a total of three times since the beginning of last season. The Gauchos battled the Ducks close for over 28 miutes in their second game in Portland last week and held a 37-34 lead with 11:50 remaining following a jumper by Chisa Ononiwu on the wing. But Santa Barbara missed its next four shots and the Ducks scored 11 unanswered points over the next 2:36, with six coming at the free-throw line, to take a 45-37 lead with 9:14 remaining. After Ononiwu broke the run with a 3-pointer, the Ducks knocked down six straight free-throws to build a commanding 51-40 lead with 7:01 left on the clock. Oregon outscored Santa Barbara 17-3 over that decisive stretch to put the game out of reach and went on to post the 65-56 victory. For the game, the Gauchos shot 38.6%, making 22-of-57 shots, while the Ducks hit 18-of-45, 40%. The difference came at the foul line, where Oregon shot 28 more free-throws than UCSB. The Ducks were 27-of-35 from the stripe for the game, including 23-for-31 in the decisive second half, while the Gauchos were awarded a total of just seven free-throws and made six. Ononiwu scored 16 points to lead UCSB in the defeat, while Jessica Wilson finished with 12 and Kat Suderman added 10 in her return to the starting lineup for the first time since November 17.

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 418-197 (.680) while at UCSB and an overall mark of 516-311 (.624). 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.

Probable Starters - Notes
G - Sha'Rae Gibbons - Leads the team averaging 2.6 assists per game.
G - Ariana Gnekow - Shooting .444 from the field this season.
G - Whitney Warren - Racked up season-highs with 6 rebounds and 3 steals in loss to Ducks.
F - Margaret Johnson - Scored a career-high 4 points in the loss to the Vikings.
F - Kat Suderman - Scored 14 points and grabbed 7 rebounds against Portland State.

Probable Reserves - Notes
G - Jessica Wilson - UCSB's leading rebounder at 6.3 boards per night.
G - Chisa Ononiwu - Averaged 13.0 points in the Gauchos' two games last week.
G - Lauren Pedersen - Dished out a career-best 4 assists in loss at Portland State.
G - Meagan Williams - Averaged just 9.5 minutes in the last two games.
F - Ashlee Brown - Was in the starting lineup against both Vikings and Ducks last week.
F - Jordan Franey - Hit two 3-pointers and finished with 8 points against Oregon.
C - Jessie Goble - Played a season-high 7 minutes in each of the last two.

Injury Report - Notes
C - Jenna Green - Missed both games last week with back injury, will not play vs. Pepperdine.

Quick Hits
After UCSB's offense shot 52.5% from the field and scored a season-high 95 points in the win at Santa Clara November 29, the Gauchos struggled from the floor in both games in Portland...Santa Barbara shot just 35.3% (24-68) in the loss to Portland Sate and finished at 38.6% (22-57) against Oregon...UCSB is 1-4 when shooting less than 40% this season...The Gauchos dominated the glass against Portland State (53-21), out-rebounding the opposition by 20 or more for the second consecutive game, but could not keep it going against a bigger Oregon squad and lost the battle of the boards 37-27...UCSB is 3-1 when out-rebounding the opponent in 2007-08 and 0-4 when the opposition controls the glass...While the Gauchos shot a season-low seven free-throws in the loss to the Ducks, they did convert six of them, 85.7%, which was a season-high...Santa Barbara struggled to force turnovers on its recent road trip, forcing just 12 vs. Portland State and 18 in the game against Oregon...Those two totals were the two fewest by UCSB opponents this season...The Gauchos were without two-time All-Big West First Team selection Jenna Green again last week as the senior center missed her fourth game this season with a bad back...UCSB is just 1-3 without Green in 2007-08.

Scouting the Waves
• UCSB returns to the Thunderdome to take on Pepperdine in it's only game of the week before the holidays. Monday's contest will mark the 25th meeting between the two programs in an all-time series that is deadlocked at 12 wins apiece. The Gauchos erased a 15-point deficit and came back to defeat the Waves last season in Malibu with Jenna Green leading four players in double figures with 21 points. The December 18 meeting also marked the debut of Chisa Ononiwu in the blue and gold and the transfer from Baylor tallied 11 points, five rebounds, two assists, and two steals in her first game as a Gaucho. Pepperdine last defeated UCSB on December 4, 1993, posting a 75-62 home victory.

• Fourth year head coach Julie Rousseau's squad returns all five starters and a total of 10 letterwinners from the 2006-07 team that finished the season with an overall record of 14-17 and placed fifth in the West Coast Conference standings at 6-8.

• Pepperdine enters Monday's game with an overall record of 5-3 after dropping a 55-52 decision at USC on Saturday. The Waves have put up 70.4 points through their first eight games this season, while limiting the opposition to just 62.9. Pepperdine has played just three road contests so far in 2007-08 and holds a mark of 1-2 away from home following Saturday's narrow defeat at the hands of the Trojans. Senior guard Daphanie Kennedy leads three players scoring in double figures at 19.5 points per game, while sophomore forward Miranda Ayim is second at 13.4 and senior center Teiosha George follows averaging 10.0. Kennedy shoots 41.5% from the field and leads the squad with 15 3-pointers made and 16 steals. Ayim is shooting a team-high 60.3% from the floor and leads the team averaging 8.4 rebounds and 1.9 blocked shots per game. As a team, Pepperdine shoots the ball at a 43.2% clip and averages 41.6 rebounds per night.

Suderman Answers the Call
With Jenna Green out of the lineup during UCSB's two games in the state of Oregon last week, the coaching staff asked Kat Suderman to step up and the junior forward was up to the challenge. Coming off the bench against Portland State, Suderman was very effective on the offensive end on a night when the team struggled to find its rhythm and finished 6-of-14 from the floor for a team-high 14 points. Suderman set a new career mark with 14 field goal attempts and the 14 points was her second-highest output this season -- just two points shy of her season-high that came in the Gauchos come-from-behind victory over USC November 11. The native of San Luis Obispo, Calif. also finished with a season-best seven rebounds, with five coming on the offensive end. Suderman was in the starting lineup against Oregon and went 4-of-7 from the field for 10 points to go with six rebounds. The contests with the Vikings and Ducks marked her first back-to-back double-digit scoring efforts of the season.

Picking Up Steam
After a very slow start to the season, senior guard Chisa Ononiwu has picked it up offensively, scoring in double figures in each of UCSB's last five games. While she was just 4-of-11 from the floor in the Gauchos' loss to Portland State on December 6, she had a very good all-around game, finishing with 10 points, eight rebounds, three assists, and two steals. Ononiwu has also been heating up from behind the 3-point arc as of late and hit two of her four attempts against the Vikings. Two days later, Ononiwu was an impressive 6-of-10 from the field and led the Gauchos with 16 points against the University of Oregon. She hit both of her shots from downtown and tallied two assists and a steal. The Houston, Tex. native is third on the team in both scoring and rebounding in 2007-08, averaging 11.3 points and 4.4 boards, respectively, and is shooting 42.9% on triples.

Rock-Steady
Senior guard Jessica Wilson was just one point shy of recording her second double-double of the season at Portland State, finishing with nine points and 11 rebounds. The Sacramento, Calif. native was 3-of-8 from the field and went 3-of-4 at the free-throw line against the Vikings. Against Oregon, Wilson finished an impressive 6-for-10 from the floor for 12 points to go with five boards, three assists, two steals, and a block. Through eight games, she leads the team averaging 6.3 rebounds and is second dishing out 2.5 assists per night. Wilson has been very impressive from the field in 2007-08, shooting 48.6% (34-70), which is second only to Jenna Green. In terms of scoring, she also ranks second behind Green, averaging 11.4 points per game and is second averaging 27.3 minutes per game. Wilson, is one of only two Gauchos to have started every game this season. Her first double-double came in Santa Barbara's season-opener, when she finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds in the 61-50 loss to BYU.

Down With Brown
Ashlee Brown was in the starting lineup against Portland State and Oregon last week, becoming the first freshman to start back-to-back games since Jordan Franey got the nod against Utah Valley State and UC Irvine in January of last season. Making just her second start of the year against the Vikings, the forward was 3-of-7 from the field for six points and also finished with five rebounds, an assist and a blocked shot. The Chandler, Ariz. native played a season-high 24 minutes in the 73-58 loss and also established new marks for field goals attempted, assists, and blocks. Brown started against the Ducks as well, but played just three minutes before coming out of the game feeling ill.

Wilson Watch
Senior guard Jessica Wilson enters Monday's contest against Pepperdine just 135 points shy of becoming the 22nd player in program history to score 1,000 points for her career. The Sacramento, Calif native entered the season with 774 career points -- 402 of which came last year -- and has scored a total of 91 through eight games in 2007-08. Wilson is looking to join teammate Jenna Green as a member of the elite 1,000 point club and when she does they will become the first duo to reach the plateau together since Kristen Mann and Mia Fisher did so in 2003-04 and 2004-05. Green scored her 1,000-career point February 17, 2007 against Cal Poly.

Gauchos Picked To Finish Second In Preseason Polls
For the first time in over a decade the Gauchos were not selected to win the Big West Conference regular season title by either the coaches or the media in voting conducted at the league's annual media day October 25. UCSB finished second in both polls behind regular season and conference tournament champion UC Riverside, who received eight first place votes and 64 total points to capture the top spot in the preseason coaches' poll. Santa Barbara received one first place vote and 57 points, finishing a unanimous second. UC Davis was chosen to finish third with 44 points, while Cal Poly received the fourth place nod with 41. Long Beach State, Cal State Fullerton, Pacific, Cal State Northridge, and UC Irvine followed rounding out the poll. In the media poll, the Gauchos received one first place vote and 81 total points to finish second behind the Highlanders, who garnered nine first place votes and 89 points. Complete results of the voting can be seen in the full weekly release.

Green, Wilson Tabbed Preseason All-Conference
When the media selected a Preseason All-Big West Team at this year's annual media day, UCSB had two players selected, marking the sixth consecutive year a Gaucho made the squad. Senior center Jenna Green earned one of the six spots for a third consecutive year after earning All-Big West First Team honors last season. The San Jose, Calif. native led the Gauchos in points (16.6), rebounds (7.1), and blocked shots (1.7) for the second straight year, while shooting a league-best 53.7% from the field in 2006-07. Green was the only player to start all 33 games for UCSB last season. Also earning a nod for the preseason all-conference squad was senior guard Jessica Wilson. Wilson led the Big West averaging 4.5 assists and finished in the conference's top 10 in six major statistical categories. The Sacramento, Calif. native earned a second consecutive Second Team All-Big West selection after averaging 13.0 points and 6.7 rebounds in 31 games a year ago.

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 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 in 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 year 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.

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