Top Teams Square Off This Week
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10-11 WBB Release 9
Look Who's On Top
After two weeks of Big West play, two teams sit atop the conference standings with an unblemished 3-0 record. One team is on no surprise since they were picked second in the Big West preseason media poll, Cal Poly, and the other may seem a bit shocking to some, UC Irvine, who hasn't finished higher than sixth in the league since the 2002-03 season. Cal Poly already knocked off 2009-10 Big West regular season champion and preseason favorite UC Davis and UC Irvine opened Big West play with a victory over 2009-10 Big West tournament champion UC Riverside.
Even though the Mustangs are tied for first in the Big West, they certainly had to face some adversity at the beginning of the year when 2009-10 Big West Player of the Year Kristina Santiago tore her ACL in the first two minutes of the 2010-11 season and was informed she would miss the rest of the year due to her injury. Filling her shoes this season has been senior Rachel Clancy, who paces the team and ranks second in the conference with a 16.8 scoring average. She saved her best performance for last weekends contest against the Aggies when she drained a career-best 31 points.
While Cal Poly has maintained a presence near the top of the standings the past few seasons, UC Irvine is having a wonderful turnaround season under the helm of third-year head coach Molly Goodenbour. UC Irvine 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. The Anteaters, 11-4, cracked the double-digit win threshold for the first time since tallying a 17-12 record in 2002-03.
UC Irvine, currently a perfect 7-0 when playing at the Bren Events Center, hosts Cal Poly on Saturday, Jan. 15, guaranteeing one team will have a tarnished record by the end of the week. The Anteaters also entertain UC Santa Barbara on Thursday evening.
In just her second season at UC Santa Barbara, senior forward Mekia Valentine has already moved into second place in the Gauchos' record book for career blocks. Currently with 184 swats, Valentine needs just six more blocks to also crack the Big Wests top 10. In 2009-10, she recorded the fourth best single-season performance in conference history, registering 120 blocks. So far this season she has accumulated 64 swats.
By the slimmest of margins, Cal Poly paces the Big West with a 68.9 scoring average and is followed by UC Davis (68.8), who also tops the charts in scoring defense (57.9). The Mustangs are also impressive from three-point range as they own a conference-best .368 three-point field goal percentage. Cal Poly is led by Rachel Clancys 16.8 scoring average and 6.6 rebound average.
UC Santa Barbara has two players ranked in the top three in rebounding so it is no surprise that the Gauchos reign supreme in the aforementioned category with a 41.5 average. Mekia Valentine sits second at 9.1, while Sweets Underwood holds the third spot with a 8.0 average.
Matadors Accepting Charity
Cal State Northridge may be having trouble posting wins this season but when given a free opportunity to score points they take full advantage. The Matadors currently lead the league with a .752 free throw percentage. Both Janelle Nomura and Violet Alama rank in the Big Wests top 10 for free throw shooting. Nomura owns a .802 percentage (5th) and Alama holds a .790 average from the charity stripe.
Mimnaugh Looking To Join Elite Club
Cal Poly Head Coach Faith Mimnaugh is just eight 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, own a perfect 3-0 mark to start conference. A year ago they tallied 11 conference wins.
Maly-Karros Seeing Double
Not only does UC Irvine's Mikah Maly-Karros pace the Big West Conference and rank third in the country with 10 double-doubles on the season, she is averaging a double-double for the season. The junior forward is averaging 19.2 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.
A season-high 26 points against UC Irvine on Jan. 6 launched Cal State Fullerton's Megan Richardson into elite status as she became just the 19th Titan to surpass 1,000 career points. Richardson, who became the 104th Big West player to reach the milestone, owns 1,034 career points. Teammates Lyndsey Grove and Lauren Chow are also closing in on the milestone with 896 and 831 points, respectively.
UC Davis' Paige Mintun was the first player this season to reach 1,000 points. Early in the month of December, Mintun tallied her 1,000th-career point. She currently owns 1,121 career points, 1,103 of which occurred during her time competing in the Big West Conference to rank her 84th in the league annals. Fellow Aggie Heidi Heintz drained her 1,000th point last Thursday and added to her total with a nine-point performance on Saturday. Heintz enters the week with 1,011 career points, 505 of which came during her time at San Francisco.
Headlining UC Riverside's offense, Brittany Waddell owns an 894-point tally.
CSF's Chow Shooting Her Way Into The
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 157 buckets from long range. She needs just five 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 Mens Basketball West Regional.
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).
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
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.
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.