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Women's Basketball

This Week In Big West Women's Basketball

Files associated with this release:
10-11 WBB Release 4


Saint Mary's Versus The Big West
At first glance, this week's schedule looks like Saint Mary's is a member of the Big West Conference as they face three conference schools. The Gaels open the week traveling to The Pavilion Wednesday evening to face UC Davis. Two days later Saint Mary's host UC Santa Barbara for a 7:00 p.m. tip. The trifecta ends on Sunday, Dec. 5 when the Pacific Tigers visit their northern California foe for a matinee. Last season UC Davis and Pacific both collected wins over the Gaels.

Tourney Time
The holiday week may be over but the basketball tournaments are still going strong. Cal Poly and Long Beach State both leave the Golden State for tournament play this weekend. The Mustangs visit Tempe, Ariz., for the ASU Classic where they face host Arizona State and either Lamar of New Mexico State. Long Beach State heads south for the Gene Hackerman Invitational hosted by Rice. The 49ers battle Prairie View in first-game action and either Rice or Louisiana Monroe in the second contest.

Win After Win After Win
Last Sunday, UC Davis notched a 61-52 win over the SEC's South Carolina Gamecocks to record its third home victory of the season and extend its home win streak to 11 games. UC Davis, who entered the 2010-11 season with an eight-game win streak, recorded its last home loss back on Dec. 29, 2009, when it fell to Kansas State, 73-59. One of the nation's longest home win streaks is on the line Wednesday, Dec. 1 when the Aggies entertain the Stain Mary's Gaels at The Pavilion. Tipoff is slated for 7:00 p.m.

The Aggies aren't just winning at home this season, in fact they have also recorded two road victories to own a league-best 5-1 mark. Their only loss this season was a 65-49 defeat to then-No. 15 UCLA. UC Davis is currently ranked in the collegeinsider.com Mid-Major Top 25.

Honda Center To Become Official Home Of Big West Basketball Tournament Beginning in 2011
Honda Center has announced a five-year partnership with the Big West Conference to host its annual men's and women's post-season basketball tournament beginning in 2011. The Big West and Honda Center have teamed up for "March Madness" and "The Road To The Final Four" on numerous occasions including men's basketball regionals in 1998, 2001 and 2003 and first and second round action in 2008. In addition, the Big West and Honda Center were selected as host of the 2011 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball West Regional.

A Trio Of Victories
Three schools managed to record their first win of the season over the holiday break. First on the scene were the UC Irvine Anteaters, who not only posted one, but two Thanksgiving victories. UC Irvine snuck past San Diego State, 68-66, Tuesday evening before tallying its second straight win versus Northern Colorado (66-52) to improve to 2-3 on the season. Long Beach State and UC Santa Barbara both had to wait until Sunday, Nov. 28 to post their first victory. The 49ers downed North Carolina Central, 78-61, in the final game of the Waikiki Beach Marriott Rainbow Wahine Showdown in Honolulu, Hawaii, while the Gauchos followed in UCI's footsteps with a win over the Northern Colorado Bears.

Swatting The Competition
Nothing gets past UC Santa Barbara's senior forward/center Mekia Valentine. Averaging 4.6 blocks per game through the first three weeks of the 2010-11 season, Valentine ranks second in the nation in blocked shots. She is also tied for first in most blocks in a single game with 10 swats. Valentine reached that feat last week against Northern Colorado and she did so in style, posting the Gaucho's first-ever triple double with 15 points, 12 rebounds and 10 blocks.

A season ago, Valentine averaged 4.0 blocks per game and finished the year with 120 total blocks to rank fourth all-time in the Big West season records. The Greensboro, N.C., native has tallied 23 blocks so far this season to increase her conference career total to 143. She needs just 48 more blocks to crack the league's career top 10.

Looking For Win Number One
Cal State Northridge, playing its first season under the tutelage of head coach Jason Flowers, owns a 0-6 record after three weeks of play. The Matadors have lost their six games by an average of 13.8 points. Their closest outing was a six-point loss to Chattanooga in the second game of their home tournament - Woodland Hills Holiday Inn Classic. Next up for the Matadors is a home contest against Loyola Marymount on Tuesday, November 30.

Mimnaugh Looking To Join Elite Club
Cal Poly Head Coach Faith Mimnaugh is just 11 conference wins away from reaching 100 Big West victories, a feat only four other league coaches have accomplished. The Mustangs, who return a majority of their players from 2009-10, tallied 11 conference wins last season, making the magic number within reach this season.

1,000-Point Club
A handful of players are eyeing the elite list and should reach the milestone this season. UC Davis' Paige Mintun will be the first to reach the 1,000-point plateau as she has accumulated 988 career points, 970 of which occurred during her time competing in the Big West Conference. Megan Richardson, from Cal State Fullerton, is the second closest to the 1,000-point mark with 918 points. Teammates Lyndsey Grove and Lauren Chow are also closing in on the milestone with 819 and 785 points, respectively. Sandwiched between the Fullerton trio is UC Riversides Brittany Waddell and her 814 point tally. Cal Polys Kristina Santiago was the only Big West player to enter the year as a member of the 1,000-point club, but suffered a season-ending injury in the first game of the season.

CSF's Chow Shooting Her Way Into The Record Books
Senior guard Lauren Chow is inching her way into the Big West annals with her impressive three-point shooting. Over the course of her collegiate career, Chow has drained 149 buckets from long range. She needs just 13 three-pointers to crack the Big West's top 10, a feat that is well within reach since she averages 47.6 three-pointers a year. In 2007-08, Chow registered 77 baskets from behind-the-arc to rank sixth in the Big West single season list.

Cal Poly Takes Huge Hit To Lineup
Cal Poly's top returner Kristina Santiago, tore her ACL in the first two minutes of the 2010-11 season and will miss the rest of the year due to her injury. The 2009-10 Big West Women's Basketball Player of the Year will undergo surgery and spend the next few months rehabilitating her knee. The senior is eligible to apply for a medical redshirt. The Mustangs will rely heavily on 2009-10 All-Big West second team member Rachel Clancy. Last season, the senior paced the league with an impressive .450 three-point percentage, while tying for fourth with 1.7 three-pointers made. She also concluded last season tied for 13th in scoring with an 11.3 average and 12th in rebounding at 5.4 RPG.

New Era At Cal State Northridge With Flowers Hire
During the spring Jason Flowers was hired as head coach of the Cal State Northridge Matadors. Flowers is very familiar with the Big West Conference having held stints as an assistant coach at both UC Riverside and Long Beach State.

In 2009-10, the Highlanders earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament following their championship performance at the Big West Tournament. A year earlier, the Highlanders chalked up 19 wins, a 14-2 league mark, produced the school's first-ever victory over a nationally-ranked Top-25 team, recorded a school record 13-straight wins and earned a berth in the WNIT.

While at LBSU, Flowers helped coach the 49ers to the 2005-06 Big West Championship, and developed 11 players into all-conference performers including the 2006 Big West Conference Player of the Year.

Aggies' Simpson Retiring After Season
Sandy Simpson, UC Davis' all-time winningest women's basketball coach who has been named coach of the year in three different conferences, will retire at the end of the upcoming 2010-11 season with associate head coach Jennifer Gross being named as his permanent replacement.

Simpson has longtime roots with the UC Davis women's program having coached with mentors Pam Gill-Fisher (1977-81) and Jorja Hoehn (1991-98) before assuming reins on a permanent basis in 1998. Since then, he has compiled an impressive overall record of 227-144 (.612), led UC Davis to a third-place finish at the 1997 NCAA Division II Championships, Women's National Invitational Tournament (WNIT) berths in 2008 and this past winter, and last seasons Big West Conference regular-season title.