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Women's Basketball

Cal Poly Gains Sole Possession Of First Place, Hosts Second Place UCR


Mustangs Stand Alone
Two schools entered the week with an undefeated Big West record but only one team came out of the week unscathed - Cal Poly. UC Irvine, who was undefeated at home until last week, fell to both UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly. The Mustangs, on the other hand, have strung together five straight league victories to gain sole possession of first place in the Big West with a 5-0 mark. Cal Poly is off to its best start in the Big West since it joined the conference for the 1996-97 season.

Even though the Mustangs are sitting atop the conference, they 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 17.2 scoring average.

What's Ahead
The featured game for this week takes place in the central coast where league-leading Cal Poly welcomes second place UC Riverside to Mott Gym. The two teams take to the court Wednesday, Jan. 19 at 7:00 p.m. Last week the Mustangs snuck by Cal State Fullerton, 75-72, and UC Irvine, 72-70, to maintain a perfect 5-0 mark in conference play, while UC Riverside (3-1) downed Cal State Northridge and handed UC Santa Barbara its worst conference loss since Jan. 30, 1993 when it fell to then-member UNLV, 89-51. The Highlanders defeated the Gauchos 81-48 at the Student Recreation Center on Saturday, Jan. 15. Cal Poly also hosts the Matadors on Saturday.

Other Big West matchups include UC Santa Barbara entertaining Cal State Fullerton at The Thunderdome, Pacific facing NorCal foe UC Davis and Long Beach State taking on UC Irvine in the Black & Blue series.

Mimnaugh Looking To Join Elite Club
Cal Poly Head Coach Faith Mimnaugh is just six 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 5-0 mark to start conference. A year ago they tallied 11 conference wins.

Valentine's Blockade
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 187 swats, Valentine needs just three more blocks to also crack the Big West's 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 67 swats.

Erving Vaults To Number One
Cal State Northridge's Jasmine Erving drained a career-best 34 points against Cal State Fullerton on Saturday, Jan. 15. Her offensive effort not only set a new single-game high for the Big West this season, it bumped up her conference-only scoring average to 21.4, ranking her first in the Big West. Ervine entered the week with a 16.3 average in conference games. In overall stats, the junior center sits third with a 14.7 average.

Maly-Karros Seeing Double
Not only does UC Irvine's Mikah Maly-Karros pace the Big West Conference and ranks in the top five in the country with 11 double-doubles on the season, she is averaging a double-double for the season. The junior forward is averaging 19.1 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.

UCI's Home Streak Comes To A Halt
UC Irvine's dominance at home came to an end last week when UC Santa Barbara defeated the Anteaters, 69-58, snapping a seven-game win streak at the Bren Events Center. January 29 is the next opportunity for the Anteaters to get back on track on their home court as they kickoff a three-game homestand with UC Davis.

Statistically Speaking
Defending champion UC Davis has edged out current conference leader Cal Poly in scoring offense. The Aggies own a 69.8 average, while the Mustangs are averaging 69.4 points per contest. Cal Poly's higher power offense seems to be coming from behind-the-arc, as the Mustangs pace the league with a .374 three-point field goal percentage. UC Santa Barbara, which dominates on defense, has also proven to be a contender for the top spot on offense as it holds a conference-best .421 field goal percentage.

It seems that once conference play began the Mustangs offense witnessed a new spark. In conference-only stats, Cal Poly holds the top spot in scoring offense (77.6), field goal percentage (.455) and three-point field goal percentage (.403). Cal Poly is led by Kayla Griffin's .640 field goal percentage and Rachel Clancy's 20.4 scoring average, which ranks her second in the league.

1,000-Point Club
At the start of the year, Cal State Fullerton's Megan Richardson reached elite status and became just the 19th Titan to surpass 1,000 career points. Richardson, who became the 104th Big West player to reach the milestone, owns 1,081 career points. Teammates Lyndsey Grove and Lauren Chow are also closing in on the milestone with 931 and 839 points, respectively.

UC Davis' Paige Mintun was the first player this season to reach 1,000 points. Early in December, Mintun tallied her 1,000th-career point. She currently owns 1,136 career points, 1,118 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 on January 6. Heintz enters the week with 1,023 career points, 517 of which came during her time at San Francisco.

Headlining UC Riverside's offense, Brittany Waddell owns an 923-point tally.

1, 2, 3....10
UC Davis and UC Irvine have both surpassed double-digit victories this season. The Aggies own a league-best 13 wins and the Anteaters have posted 11 victories, cracking the double-digit win threshold for the first time since tallying a 17-12 record in 2002-03. Cal Poly, UC Riverside and UC Santa Barbara are all one game shy of capturing their 10th win of the 2010-11 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 159 buckets from long range. She needs just three 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 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.

UC Davis Pegged As Favorite To Claim 2010-11 Big West Title
UC Davis was selected to repeat as Big West women's 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).

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.

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 season's Big West Conference regular-season title.