December 17, 2010

Gauchos Head to East Coast for Three

Dec. 17, 2010

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• The Schedule

Saturday, December 18, 2010 at 12:00 p.m.
St. John's-Chartwells Holiday Classic
UC Santa Barbara vs. Fresno State (7-3)
at St. John's Carnesseca Arena (6,008)
Series record vs. the Bulldogs - 8-20
Streak - Lost 3
Last time out vs. the Bulldogs - L, 84-76 vs. FSU (11/13/09)
Game broadcast streaming live online by clicking here and tape delayed at 7 p.m. on AM 990 KTMS
Live stats and streaming video available by clicking here

Sunday, December 19, 2010, TBA
St. John's-Chartwells Holiday Classic
UC Santa Barbara vs. St. John's/Southern Mississippi
at St. John's Carnesseca Arena (6,008)
Game broadcast streaming live online by clicking here and tape delayed at 7 p.m. on AM 990 KTMS

• On The Radio
All UC Santa Barbara basketball games are broadcast live in Santa Barbara on AM 990 KTMS and will stream live online by clicking here
. Josh Suchon is the voice of the Gauchos, performing the play-by-play, while former Los Angeles Lakers and UCSB star Don Ford will handle the color commentary. On select road games, much to the chagrin of the listening audience, yours truly, Matt Hurst, will provide color commentary.

• New York, New York
The UC Santa Barbara women's basketball team will be playing its first-ever games in New York this coming weekend as part of the St. John's-Chartwells Holiday Classic. While the team has played often on the east coast, this is the first time the Gauchos will actually play in the Big Apple. The only time UCSB has ever played a team from New York came in 1998 when it defeated Syracuse at the Thunderdome.

• Taking Their Best Shot
Over the Gauchos' past five games, in which the team is 4-1, UCSB is shooting 44.3% from the field. That has risen Santa Barbara's overall shooting percentage from 35.0% before the streak, to its current 40.0%. The Gauchos have shot no lower than 42.9% in any of their wins this season.

• Back on Top
Junior guard Emilie Johnson is averaging 17.3 points over her past three games, shooting 21-for-48 (43.8%) and again leads the team in scoring with her 12.1 points per game. Prior to her hot streak, the Loomis, Calif. native was shooting just 17.6% (9 of 51) in her previous four games. Johnson has led the team in scoring in five games this season. Last year Johnson became the first sophomore to lead the Gauchos in scoring since Jenna Green did so in 2005-06.

• Tenacious D
In each of the past two seasons, UCSB has led the Big West in opponent's field goal percentage and are doing it again this year. UCSB is allowing teams to shoot 35.2% from the floor. The Gauchos entered the week ranked 38th in the nation in field goal percentage defense. Last season the squad ranked 31st in the nation with its 36.3%. In 2008-09 UCSB ranked eighth in the country with a 34.6% clip.

• Six Shooter
Junior guard Kelsey Adrian, who hit two 3-pointers in the final 18 seconds of regulation on Tuesday to send the game to overtime, is second on the team in scoring with an 11.2 points per game average, but it's been even better over her last half-dozen games. Adrian has reached double figures in six straight games and is averaging 12.3 points per game over that stretch. The Langley, British Columbia native has tallied the most double-digit games by a Gaucho this year (seven) but has led the team in scoring only twice this season.

• Swat Team
After blocking 11 more shots at Bakersfield on Tuesday - including seven by Mekia Valentine - the Gauchos are now averaging 5.8 blocked shots per game, easily the best mark among Big West schools. Entering the week with a 5.1 blocks per game mark, the Gauchos were 31st in the nation. Last season UCSB was sixth in the nation with an average of 6.3 swats per game.

• Mekia's Block Party
Mekia Valentine, who set a UCSB record last season with 120 blocked shots, is averaging 4.8 blocked shots per game, ranking her third in the country. However the Greensboro, N.C. native has blocked 30 shots in her last five games for a 6.0 per game mark. Valentine ranks fourth all-time in school history with 163 blocked shots, just 17 shy of Kris Grazzini (1992-96) for third and 18 away from Jenna Green (2003-09) for second.

• Who's Going to In-N-Out? Can I Get a Double-Double?
Valentine has turned in four double-double efforts so far this year after she posted 12 double-doubles last season. That number was the most by any Gaucho since Kristen Mann had 14 in 2004-05.

• Sweets Tooth
Only once this season has sophomore forward Sweets Underwood failed to score at least eight points and she ranks third on the team in scoring with 10.8 per game. Underwood has scored in double figures in six of her past seven games, averaging 11.7 points per game in that span. Underwood is second on the team - and third in the Big West - with 8.0 rebounds per game and only twice this year has she not grabbed at least seven boards. The Compton, Calif. native also leads all Big West players with her 61.7 field goal percentage.

• Double Down
Mekia Valentine is pulling down 9.2 rebounds per game this season, ranking her second among Big West players. The senior is also averaging 10.4 points per game this season, leaving open the possibility that she will average a double-double in her final season. If the Greensboro, N.C. native should pull that off, she would be the first Gaucho to average a double-double since Erika Kienast had 15.9 points and 10.6 rebounds per game in 1991-92.

• Little Nicky
Making her first career collegiate start at Bakersfield, freshman Nicole Nesbit sure left quite the impression. While Nesbit had seen action in all of her previous eight games, she was an integral part of UCSB's come-from-behind victory on Tuesday. The Northridge, Calif. native had 13 points, five steals, four assists, a block and played 30 minutes - all of which were career-highs. Nesbit is averaging 4.2 points and 2.0 assists per game this season.

• I Am Your Density ... I Mean, Your Destini
Over her last four games Destini Mason is averaging 6.0 points and 10.3 minutes per game, after playing a grand total of 10 minutes in her Gaucho career prior to that. In this current stretch the Moreno Valley, Calif. native is averaging 2.0 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game.

• Zornig Zeroing In
Along with Nesbit, fellow freshman Melissa Zornig has played in every one of the Gauchos' games this season. Zornig, who hails from Coto de Caza, Calif., is averaging 21.4 minutes per game this season (second-most among reserves) to go with 5.4 points and 2.1 rebounds per game. She had her best shooting day as a Gaucho by going 3 of 6 on Tuesday - including nailing her lone 3-point attempt - and finished wth nine points, one off her career-high.

• Baby, It's Cold Outside
Although the Gauchos have been shooting a solid 44.3% in their past five games, it's even more impressive considering that the team has struggled from 3-point range. Overall this season Santa Barbara is shooting a meager 25.0 percent from downtown. The lowest three-point percentage by a Gaucho team was in 2005-06 when UCSB hit just 26.2% of its treys. Last season UCSB connected on only 28.3% of its bonus bombs, the sixth-lowest mark in school history. Over the past five games UCSB is shooting 29.1% from beyond the arc.

• Inside the Arc, Inside the Basket
Take away the Gauchos' shooting percentage from downtown and UCSB is hitting 46.3 percent of its two-point field goals, a much more palatable percentage.

• Nothing Free About Them
After opening the season by making 19 of 22 free throws, UCSB hasn't been as effective from the charity stripe. Santa Barbara has made just 59.1% of its foul shots (81-for-137) in its past seven games. In that span UCSB has shot over 65% just once. Overall this season Santa Barbara is shooting 62.9% from the charity stripe. Two seasons ago, in 2008-09, UCSB set a school record with its 75.7 percent free throw percentage. That on-the-mark clip was also the 13th best in the nation that season.

• Winning Big
Prior to Tuesday's win, the Gauchos enjoyed a 51-point margin of victory in their previous two games, tying the team for the largest two-game margin of victory in the Lindsay Gottlieb era. The last time it happened wasn't long ago - when UCSB beat Pacific 82-54 and Long Beach State 73-50 on consecutive days of the Big West Tournament last March.

The Lindsay Gottlieb File
Lindsay Gottlieb is in her third season as the Gauchos' head coach, and she is just the fourth head coach in UCSB women's basketball history. Last season Gottlieb guided the Gauchos to wins in seven of the squad's last eight games, taking a team that finished 9-7 in the Big West to the conference tournament's semifinals, keeping alive a streak of 20 years that UCSB had finished Big West play with a record above .500. In her first season at the helm, Gottlieb led the team to a 22-10 overall mark (15-1 in the Big West) and the Big West regular-season and tournament championships. Named the Big West Coach of the Year, Gottlieb became the first coach in Gaucho history to win at least 20 games and the Coach of the Year award in her first season - and one of only seven coaches nationwide to do so. Gottlieb led the Gauchos to their 14th consecutive postseason appearance and the team won 20 games for the 12th time in the past 14 years. In her first two seasons with the program, Gottlieb has guided the Gauchos to national prominence, leading the conference in field goal percentage defense both years while having her team set a school record in free throw percentage (08-09) and blocked shots in a season (09-10).. No stranger to success, Gottlieb was formerly the associate head coach at Cal, helping the team to a 68-28 (.708) overall mark in her time there. Prior to that, Gottlieb was an assistant at the University of Richmond, where she helped the Spiders to three straight 20-win seasons.

The Gaucho Fund, launched as part of the Dare to Be Great strategic plan, is UCSB Athletics' annual giving program to provide vital funding support for scholarships, academic success and leadership development for Gaucho student-athletes. The Gaucho Fund is the anchor to the Dare to Be Great campaign.

GKids is the official kids club of UCSB Athletics. Members receive a free GKids t-shirt, free admittance to tons of Gaucho games, opportunities to be ball boys and girls at games, a special birthday greeting from Olie (the GKids mascot) and much, much more! For more information on GKids, or to become a member, please click here.