Women's Basketball Hits The Road For Final Nonconference Matchups
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10-11 WBB Release 6
On The Road Again
As we head into the holiday break and inch closer to league place, a majority of the Big West schools are hitting the road for their final nonconference matchups. Making the longest treks are UC Riverside and UC Santa Barbara. Following a visit to Oregon on Tuesday, the Highlanders warm up on the beaches of Miami for a Saturday evening showdown with the Hurricanes. The Gauchos head to the Big Apple for the St. John's Tournament (12/18-19) after a short jaunt to Cal State Bakersfield on Dec. 14. In all, only four of the 17 games played this week will be contested on a Big West home court.
Playing just two of their first 11 contests away from the familiar confines of The Walter Pyramid, the Long Beach State 49ers (1-10) return home this week to begin a four-game homestand. The first pair of games are part of the LBSU Beach Classic that takes place Dec. 19 & 21. The 49ers face Florida A&M on Sunday and then tackle N.C. State on Tuesday. The second pair of home contests mark the start of conference play. Long Beach State opens Big West action with central coast opponents UC Santa Barbara (12/30) and Cal Poly (1/2).
Cal State Fullerton became the first Big West team in 2010-11 to reach 100 points after toppling Sacramento State, 100-74, on Dec. 9. Last week's impressive outing was the first 100-point game for Cal State Fullerton in 15 years when the Titans posted a 103-78 win over Cal Poly on Valentine's Day in 1995. En route to snapping a five-game skid, the Titans set the school record for assists in a game with 28 on 42 made shots, which matched the school mark set two other times, the last coming against Cal Poly Pomona in 1981. Cal State Fullerton is the first conference team to reach the century mark since Cal Poly drained 100 points against Cal State Northridge on Feb. 20, 2010.
The Anteaters, 5-3 overall, are off to the program's best start since a 6-2 beginning to the 2002-03 season. UC Irvine opened the 2010-11 season dropping its first three contests, but since has strung together a conference-best five straight victories, including four on its home court - The Bren Events Center. Last season it took UC Irvine, who concluded the year with an overall mark of 9-21, 18 games before capturing its fifth win. Under the guidance of third-year head coach Molly Goodenbour, UC Irvine is on pace to crack the double-digit win threshold, a feat it hasn't accomplished since tallying a 17-12 record in 2002-03. Following an eight-day hiatus, the Anteaters return to the court in hopes of extending its win streak with a victory at Seattle on Monday, Dec. 13.
Home Sweet Home
UC Davis, who entered the 2010-11 season with an eight-game home win streak, has extended its success at The Pavilion to 12 after a 71-62 win over Saint Mary's on Dec. 1. The Aggies recorded its last home loss back on Dec. 29, 2009, when it fell to Kansas State, 73-59. The Aggies, in the midst of a four-game road trip, return home to host Santa Clara on Dec. 27, placing the nation's 14th-best streak on hold until after the holiday.
Swatting The Competition
Nothing gets past UC Santa Barbaras senior forward/center Mekia Valentine. Averaging 4.50 blocks per game through the first month of the season, Valentine ranks third in the nation in blocked shots. She is also tied for second in most blocks in a single game with 10 swats. Valentine reached that feat on Nov. 28 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 36 blocks so far this season to increase her conference career total to 156. She needs just 35 more blocks to crack the leagues career top 10.
Maly-Karros Seeing Double
Not only does UC Irvine's Mikah Maly-Karros pace the Big West Conference with five double-doubles on the season, she is averaging a double-double for the season. The junior forward is averaging 19.1 points and 10.5 rebounds per contest and leads the league in both respective categories while also ranking in the Top 25 in the nation. Stephanie Duda was the last UC Irvine player to average a double-double through most of the season. Unfortunately in the final game of the 2007-08 season she fell short of the double-double and concluded the year with 12.2 points and 9.9 rebounds.
Looking For Win Number One
Cal State Northridge, playing its first season under the tutelage of head coach Jason Flowers, owns a 0-10 record after one month of play. 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, who was idle for nine days, is a Dec. 18 showdown at South Dakota.
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.
A handful of players are eyeing the elite list and should reach the milestone this season. The newest member, and first of the 2010-11 season, is UC Davis' Paige Mintun. Early in the month of December, Mintun surpassed the 1,000th-career point mark. She currently owns 1,003 career points, 985 of which occurred during her time competing in the Big West Conference. Fifteen more points makes her the 103rd Big West player to reach 1,000 points.
Megan Richardson, from Cal State Fullerton, is the second closest to the 1,000-point mark with 945 points. Teammates Lyndsey Grove and Lauren Chow are also closing in on the milestone with 841 and 783 points, respectively. Headlining UC Riverside's offense, Brittany Waddell owns an 831-point tally. Cal Poly's 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 150 buckets from long range. She needs just 12 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.
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 mens 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.
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 Womens 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.
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.