Action Packed Week Ahead For Women's Basketball
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10-11 WBB Release 8
Topsy Turvy Opening Weekend
After the opening weekend of Big West play, this year's championship is definitely up for grabs after UC Irvine and Cal State Fullerton both toppled preseason favorites in their opening contests. The Anteaters, winning nine of their last 10 contests, downed last season's Big West tournament champion UC Riverside, 53-46, to improve to 9-4 on the season. Lauren Chow's last minute heroics led Cal State Fullerton to a 58-56 win over preseason season favorite and 2009-10 Big West regular season champion UC Davis. Unfortunately the Titans couldnt pull out another last-second win and fell to Pacific 69-65 to drop to 1-1 in league play. The winless Cal State Northridge Matadors also notched their first victory of the season at the start of conference action, downing the Tigers 74-68 in overtime.
The Week Ahead
Three teams maintain an unblemished conference record after one week of play - Cal Poly, UC Irvine and UC Santa Barbara. Both the Mustangs and Gauchos have the luxury of playing at home this week as they welcome their northern California foes, UC Davis and Pacific, to the central coast. The Anteaters visit Cal State Fullerton Wednesday, Jan. 5 before entertaining Long Beach State Saturday afternoon at the Bren Center, where UCI is undefeated this season. Other happenings in the Big West are Long Beach State visiting Cal State Northridge (1/5) and UC Riverside making the trek to Cal State Fullerton (1/8).
Gauchos Add To Win Column
After opening the 2010-11 season with a four-game losing streak, the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos are back to their old, dominating selves as they have won six of their last seven contests. The lone loss was a 56-47 defeat to No. 18 St. John's on Dec. 19. UC Santa Barbaras sixth win was a 70-43 victory to open Big West play. The Gauchos are led offensively by Emilie Johnson (12.5 ppg) and defensively by Mekia Valentine, who ranks fourth in the country in blocks per game with a 4.15 average. She also owns the fourth slot in the Big West with in rebounds (7.8 (rpg).
UC Davis Pegged As Favorite To Claim 2010-11 Big West Title
UC Davis was selected to repeat as Big West womens basketball champion for the 2010-11 season, as voted on by the media in the Big West women's basketball preseason poll. The Aggies captured 16 of a possible 25 first-place votes and 210 total points. They were followed by second place Cal Poly, who received four first-place nods and 183 points. Sitting one point back in third place is last season's Big West tournament champion UC Riverside with two first-place selections and a point total of 182. UC Santa Barbara ranked fourth with three first-place votes and 164 total point and Cal State Fullerton garnered the fifth slot with 113 points. UC Irvine earned the sixth spot after acquiring 96 points and was followed by Long Beach State (84), Pacific (51) and Cal State Northridge (42).
UC Davis' Home Streak Tumbles
UC Davis, who entered the 2010-11 season with an eight-game home win streak, extended its success at The Pavilion to 13 before suffering its first home loss since Dec. 29, 2009, when it fell to Kansas State, 73-59. The Aggies 15th-ranked home win streak was snapped on New Years Eve when Cal State Fullerton's Lauren Chow sank a jumper with 41 seconds left to lift the Titans to a 58-56 victory over the Aggies.
UC Irvine (9-4) opened the 2010-11 season dropping its first three contests, but followed that up with a conference-best six straight victories. The last time the Anteaters won six straight contests dates back to 1984 when the club won seven in a row. Unfortunately the Anteaters snapped their win streak on Dec. 15 with a loss to Eastern Washington but quickly got back on their feet posting three straight victories.
UC Irvine is currently a perfect 6-0 when playing at the Brent Events Center. The Anteaters have already tied their overall win total from a season ago (9-21) with 16 games remaining on their schedule. 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 hasnt accomplished since tallying a 17-12 record in 2002-03.
Mimnaugh Looking To Join Elite Club
Cal Poly Head Coach Faith Mimnaugh is just 10 conference wins away from reaching 100 Big West victories, a feat only four other league coaches have accomplished, after kicking off the 2010-11 Big West season with a victory over Long Beach State. The Mustangs, who return a majority of their players from 2009-10, tallied 11 conference wins last season, making the magic number well within reach this season.
Maly-Karros Seeing Double
Not only does UC Irvines Mikah Maly-Karros pace the Big West Conference with eight double-doubles on the season, she is averaging a double-double for the season. The junior forward is averaging 18.2 points and 10.1 rebounds per contest and leads the league in both respective categories. 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.
Matadors Ring In New Year With Win
Cal State Northridge, playing its first season under the tutelage of head coach Jason Flowers, rang in the new year with its first victory of the 2010-11 season. On Friday, Dec. 31, the Matadors downed the Pacific Tigers, 74-68 in overtime, to notch their first win. Unfortunately Cal State Northridges first contest of the new year resulted in a 78-56 loss to preseason favorite UC Davis, dropping them to 1-1 in league play.
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 1,095 career points, 1,077 of which occurred during her time competing in the Big West Conference to rank her 84th in the league annals. Mintun became the 103rd Big West player to reach 1,000 points.
Megan Richardson, from Cal State Fullerton, is just shy of the 1,000-point mark with 994 points. Teammates Lyndsey Grove and Lauren Chow are also closing in on the milestone with 877 and 824 points, respectively. Headlining UC Riverside's offense, Brittany Waddell owns an 874-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 156 buckets from long range. She needs just six 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 mens and womens 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 Mens 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 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.
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 schools 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 womens 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 womens 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.