December 15, 2006

UCSB Plays At Pepperdine, Hosts Michigan State This Week

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The Schedule
Game No. 10
Monday, December 18, 2006 at 7:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos at Pepperdine Waves
Firestone Fieldhouse (3,104)

Game No. 11
Wednesday, December 20, 2006 at 7:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. No. 18 Michigan State Spartans
The Thunderdome (6,000)

This Week
After nine full days off to take final exams, the UC Santa Barbara women's basketball team returns to the court and will conclude its non-conference schedule this week. The Gauchos will make the short drive south to Malibu to take on Pepperdine, a team with a 6-4 record this season, Monday at 7:00 p.m. After the match-up with the Waves, UCSB returns to the Thunderdome and will host Big Ten power and 18th-ranked Michigan State. Tip-off for the Gauchos' showdown with the Spartans, who have won five straight to improve to 7-1, is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. UCSB defeated Pepperdine 70-60 in Santa Barbara last season. The Gauchos will be looking to avenge a 86-55 loss at Michigan State that also came a year ago.

The Gaucho Record
UCSB enters competition this week with an overall record of 3-6 after splitting two games Dec. 7 and 9. After suffering the program's worst loss in 20 years at top-ranked Maryland two weeks ago, the Gauchos responded with two consecutive victories. Santa Barbara posted a 51-49 win at Richmond Dec. 4 and then defeated Weber State 62-57 at home last Thursday. The Gauchos then saw their season-best two-game winning streak snapped with a 63-58 loss to Loyola Marymount in the Thunderdome on Saturday. After finishing 10-3 on their home court in a year ago, UCSB is just 2-4 in the T-Dome so far in 2006-07.

UCSB on the Air & Web
The contests with both the Waves and the Spartans, along with every other UCSB women's basketball game in 2006-07 will be broadcast live on KIST 1340 AM in Santa Barbara. 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.

Loyola Marymount Ends Win Streak
After two straight wins at Richmond and at home against Weber State, Loyola Marymount snapped the Gauchos' season-high two-game win streak with a 63-58 victory last Saturday in the Thunderdome. Junior center Jenna Green reached double figures for the ninth consecutive game, scoring 15 of her game-high 21 points in the second half. Freshman forward Ariana Gnekow, who started in place of an injured Jessica Wilson, added a career-best 11 and dished out a game-high four assists, while freshman guard Meagan Williams chipped in with a career-best nine points in 25 minutes off the bench. After trailing for most of the first half, the Gauchos gave a spirited effort in the second, keeping the Lions within striking distance for the duration of the period. After Loyola's lead swelled to 57-47 for the third time in the half, Santa Barbara scrapped and clawed its way back into the game, pulling as close as three with 17 seconds left on the clock following a pair of Gnekow free throws, but that was as close as UCSB would get. The Lions shot an impressive 46.2% from the floor (24-52), while the Gauchos made 40.7% (22-54) of their attempts. LMU out-rebounded UCSB 40-30 and out-scored the Gauchos 34-30 in the paint. Santa Barbara did take care of the ball, turning it over just 14 times to 20 giveaways for LMU. The Gauchos out-scored the Lions 19-10 in points off turnovers.

Down to the Wire
As the Gaucho faithful have become accostumed to in the first month of the season, many of UCSB's games have come down to the wire. In fact, six of the Gauchos' last seven contests have been decided by 10 points or less and the last three have been decided by a margin of five or less. While Santa Barbara is just 2-4 in those games, both of those wins have come in the last three and were decided by two points and five points, respectively. The Gauchos defeated Richmond 51-47 Dec. 4 and then out-lasted Weber State 62-57 three days later. UCSB is 1-2 in games decided by more than 10 points this season.

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 399-184 (.684) while at UCSB and an overall mark of 497-298 (.625). 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 three wins from his 500th career victory and will be looking to collect his 400th victory at UCSB Monday at Pepperdine.

Probable Starters - Notes
G - LaShay Fears - Leads the team averaging 35.8 minutes per game.
G - Whitney Warren - Made 55.5% (5-for-9) of her shots over the last two games.
G - Jessica Wilson - Missed last Saturday's contest with LMU with an ankle injury.
F - Jordan Franey - Team-leader with 14 three-point baskets, third shooting 30.4% from beyond the arc.
C - Jenna Green - Only Gaucho to score in double figures in all nine games, leads squad averaging 16.1 ppg.

Probable Reserves - Notes
G - Meagan Williams - Posted career-bests of nine points and 25 minutes in loss to Lions.
G - Sha'Rae Gibbons - Hit her first basket of 2006-07 last Saturday.
G - Kim Smith - Has played 26 minutes this season and has yet to attempt a field goal.
G - Chisa Ononiwu - Makes debut Monday after transfering to UCSB in January.
G/F - Ariana Gnekow - Scored career-high 11 points, with five rebounds, four assists, two steals against LMU.
F - Ashley Hall - Has not played since Dec. 2 at No. 1 Maryland.
C - Jessie Goble - Second on the team with three blocked shots this season.

Scouting the Waves
• The Gauchos return to the court after a nine-day absence Monday at Pepperdine. The match-up with the defending West Coast Conference champions marks the 24th meeting between the two teams, with the Waves holding the slimmest of leads in the all-time series, 12-11. In their first meeting since 1993 last season, UCSB defeated Pepperdine 70-60 led by Jenna Green's 17 points on Dec. 30 2005.

• The Waves, who will take on fellow Big West member Long Beach State Saturday, currently own a 6-4 overall record after dropping a pair of road contests at TCU (74-56) Dec. 3 and UC Riverside (65-51) Dec. 6. Through 10 games, Pepperdine is shooting 40.4% from the floor as a team and averages 63.2 points per game to their opposition's 63.4. The Waves have out-rebounded their opponents by a slim margin, 36.3 to 34.4. Junior forward Teiosha George leads the team in scoring, averaging of 11.7 points per game to go with six rebounds per contest and a team-high eight blocks. Junior guard Daphanie Kennedy is close behind at 11.4 ppg, while shooting 36.5% from downtown and dishing out 31 assists.

Scouting the Spartans
• Following the contest at Pepperdine, UCSB will return to the Thunderdome and welcome No. 18 Michigan State Wednesday in its final non-conference match-up of the season. The Dec. 20 showdown with the Big Ten Conference-leading Spartans will mark the third meeting between the programs. MSU leads the all-time series 2-0 after handing UCSB a 95-75 defeat on Dec. 19, 1997 during the Ala Moana Paradise Classic in Honolulu, Hawai'i and defeating the Gauchos 86-55 in last year's season-opener.

• The Spartans enter the week with an impressive 7-1 record after winning five straight. Michigan State, ranked 18th in this week's AP Top 25, defeated the University of South Florida 79-71 Dec. 3 before posting a 58-45 victory at Hartford Dec. 9 in their last two. Through eight games, the Spartans have outscored their opponents by an average of 67.9 to 54.2 and have out-rebounded the opposition by a 42.5 to 35.4 margin. MSU shoots 43.8% from the field while limiting opponents to just 33%. The Spartans have four players that average double figure points and senior guard Victoria Lucas-Perry is at the top of that list at 14.1 per game. Center Allyssa DeHaan has had a great start to her freshman campaign averaging 13.5 points and a team-high 7.8 rebounds per contest. MSU will host seventh-ranked LSU Sunday before heading west to play UCSB.

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 16.1 points and 7.9 rebounds per game. She has also recorded a team-high 11 blocked shots. Green has led the team in scoring in four of the last five games and is the only player on the roster who has scored in double-figures in all nine games this season. The San Jose, Calif. native also leads UCSB in shooting at 56.9% (62-109) and has made at least half of her shots in all but one game in 2006-07. As far as Big West statistics go, Green ranks first in the conference in field goal percentage, second in both scoring and blocks, fifth in rebounding, and eighth in minutes played. After scoring 15 points in the 62-57 win over Weber State Dec. 7, Green led all scorers and tied a season-high with 21 points in the Gauchos' loss to Loyola Marymount two days later. She also pulled down ten rebounds for her third double-double of the season, blocked two and recorded three steals. Green also scored a season-high 21 points, which the third-highest total of her career and just three points off of her career-high, Nov. 26 against North Carolina State, two days after finishing with 14 points and a career-high 13 rebounds in the Gauchos' loss to No. 24 Louisville.

Junior Partner
Another player that must produce on a consistent basis for the Gauchos to be successful is junior guard Jessica Wilson. Wilson, who sat out UCSB's game with Loyola Marymount after suffering an ankle injury in the contest with Weber State Dec. 7, is second on the squad averaging 14.1 points per game. The Sacramento, Calif. native leads the team in both assists (3.3 per game) and steals (1.9) and ranks third and sixth in the Big West, respectively. Wilson is fourth in team rebounding at 5.0 per game. She has also made 8-of-23 three-point shots (34.8%), which is good enough second on the squad. After scoring a career-high 30 points in the season-opener against Portland State and then tallying 28 on Nov. 17 against Oregon, Wilson struggled in the four games prior to her injury, averaging just 8.5 points, while making 11-of-45 shots overall (24.4%) and 2-of-11 from three-point range (18.1%). She was having a solid game against the Wildcats before she went down with roughly eight minutes to play in the second half, recording nine points, including 2-for-4 from behind the three-point line wth four rebounds, three assists and three steals. She is expected to play Monday at Pepperdine.

Making a Name For Herself
If you were a follower of UCSB basketball and you hadn't yet heard freshman forward Jordan Franey's name, chances are that changed following her performance in the Gauchos' 62-57 win over Weber State Dec. 7. Franey led all scorers and finished with a career-best 22 points on 7-for-12 shooting, incuding 4-for-6 from three-point territory. She also hauled in 12 rebounds to record her first-career double-double as a Gaucho. The 22 points scored were the most by a freshman since Kristen Mann exploded for 27 at Pacific during her rookie campaign in 2001-02. Franey's career is definitely off to a good start as she is averaging 9.2 points and 4.1 rebounds in 29.2 minutes per game. Starting all nine games this season, she has proven to be one of the Gauchos' biggest three-point shooting threats, leading the team with 14 treys and 46 attempts. She is third on the squad in three point percentage at 30.4%.

Point Taken
Sophomore point guard LaShay Fears enters Monday's contest with Pepperdine averaging eight points per game, the fourth highest total on the squad, and is second in three-point baskets with 11. She leads the team and is third in the Big West averaging 35.8 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 nine games. In the Dec. 7 win over Weber State, Fears shot just 1-for-8 and finished with just three points. She did make up for her poor shooting in other areas however, and finished with a season-high six assists, two blocks and a steal. She continued to struggle shooting the ball in the loss to LMU making just 3-of-10 shots for six points. Fears has scored in double-figures on two occasions this season, tallying a season-high 19 points on Nov. 17 against Oregon and she chipped in with 15 in the season-opener against Portland State.

The Warren Court
Since returning to the lineup after missing the Gauchos' game against Oregon with a concussion, sophomore guard Whitney Warren has started the last six games and is averaging 7.9 points per contest. She is second on the squad grabbing 5.4 rebounds per game, in field goal percentage, making 41.8% (28-67) of her attempts, and in minutes played at 32.9. Warren scored a career-high 18 points and added nine rebounds, equaling her second-highest total ever in the Nov. 24 loss to No. 24 Louisville. Two days later, she came back with another solid effort, recording 13 points and six rebounds. The 13 points were her second-highest total as a Gaucho and it marked the first time in her career that she had scored in double-figures in back-to-back games. Despite averaging just 5.5 points and 5.5 rebounds in UCSB's last two games against Weber State and Loyola Marymount, she has made seven of her last 13 shots from the field, 53.8%.

Freshman Fortitude
Another freshman that continues to improve as the season goes on is Ariana Gnekow. She earned her second career start last Saturday against Loyola Marymount and made the most of it, finishing with a personal best of 11 points along with five rebounds, four assists, and two steals in 32 minutes. The Santa Ynez, Calif. native made three of her four shots against Weber State and finished with nine points, four rebounds, an assist, one block, and one steal. Through nine games, Gnekow is averaging 6.2 points and 5.1 rebounds per game. She is second with 46 total rebounds and 23 of those have come on the offensive end of the floor. Gnekow has had five or more rebounds in six of the team's nine 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.

Looking Ahead
Following this Wednesday's match-up with Michigan State, the Gauchos will have seven days off over the Holidays before opening Big West Conference play Dec. 28 at UC Riverside. The contest against the Highlanders will tip-off at 7:00 p.m. UCSB will then take on Cal State Fullerton two days later at 2:00 p.m.