Final Stretch To Big West Title
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10-11 WBB Release 15
Sizing Up The Competition
Two weeks remain and the race for the 2010-11 Big West Championship has heated up. Cal Poly (10-3), who has dominated the conference for most of the season, dropped a pair of contests giving second-place UC Santa Barbara an opportunity to come within one game of the lead. The Gauchos did just that as they downed Cal State Fullerton, 73-70, to improve to 9-4 in the league. UC Riverside and UC Davis are knotted in third place with a 7-5 record and are mathematically still in the hunt for the title.
Three of the top four teams in the league are playing at home this weekend. League-leading Cal Poly and central coast partner UC Santa Barbara will remain at the beach this weekend as they entrain Long Beach State and Cal State Fullerton. UC Davis and UC Riverside are set to break the third-place tie on Thursday when they battle at The Pavilion. The Aggies continue their home stand Saturday versus UC Irvine, while the HIghlanders travel to Pacific.
Cal Poly Secures Home Court Advantage For First Round Of ampm Big West Tournament
Cal Poly has notched its 10th Big West Conference win of the season, securing home court advantage for the Mustangs in the first round of the 2011 ampm Big West Womens Basketball Tournament.
In the new format of the ampm Big West Women's Basketball Tournament, the top four teams in the conference host the first round of competition before the semifinals and championship game move to Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. Double-digit victories are out of reach for teams ranked fifth through ninth in the Big West standings which guarantees Cal Poly a top-four seed in the tournament.
UC Santa Barbara needs one more win to reach double-digit victories, which would also award the Gauchos home court advantage in the first round of the Big West Tournament.
First round action gets underway at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, March 8 at designated campus sites. The semifinals are slated for Friday, March 10 and the championship game takes place on Saturday, March 11 at 1:00 p.m.
Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot
The Long Beach State 49ers struggled at the start of conference play, but since mid-January, LBSU is hotter than ever. Long Beach State has won three straight, and five of the last seven, including a 70-68 overtime victory versus UC Riverside to tie for seventh in the Big West standings. One thing to note is that all five wins took place in the familiar confines of The Walter Pyramid and unfortunately they play their final three contests on the road.
Valentine Blocks Her Way Into Top 10
UC Santa Barbara's Mekia Valentine increased her career block total to 220 swats, moving her into ninth place in the Big West's top 10. In just her second season at UCSB, the senior forward ranks third in the nation this season with a league-best 100 blocks. Valentine becomes just the fifth Big West player to post two 100-block seasons. In 2009-10, she recorded the fourth-best single-season performance in conference history, registering 120 blocks.
Mimnaugh Eyeing 100th Career Win
Cal Poly Head Coach Faith Mimnaugh needs just one more conference wins to reach 100 Big West victories, a feat only four other league coaches have accomplished. The Mustangs, who returned a majority of their players from 2009-10, own a 10-1 conference mark. Mimnaugh's next opportunity to capture her 100th victory is Thursday evening when the Mustangs host Cal State Fullerton.
Cal State Northridge Wins Big, Jockeys For Position In Big West Race
Only two weeks left of the 2010-11 regular season and the fight for the eight Big West women's basketball tournament spots is tighter than ever. Cal State Northridge found themselves in the odd-man-out ninth place spot but that all changed after last weekend. With Pacific and Fullerton losses, Cal State Northridge needed to pick up a win in order to up its win total to four. The Matadors downed the league-leading Cal Poly Mustangs, 73-70 last weekend and are now tied for eighth with a 4-9 mark.
With the win, the Matadors snapped an eight-game losing streak against the Mustangs, avenging a 30-point loss at Mott Gym from earlier this season. Cal State Northridge, who was winless at home until Feb. 12, has now won two straight home games and three of the last four. Two of its final three Big West contests will be played at the Matadome.
Cal State Northridge is led by junior Jasmine Erving, who has tallied the top two single-game scoring performances in the Big West this season (35 points and 34 points). She also ranks second in conference-only stats, averaging 18.4 points per contest.
Cal Poly On Verge Of School-Best Mark
The past two seasons Cal Poly has tallied an 11-5 league record, a school high in victories. So far this season the league-leading Mustangs have posted 10 Big West Conference wins and with three games remaining, giving them the potential to best their highest their win total. Cal Poly needs just two wins to set a new school mark for Big West victories. Cal Poly has the luxury to play its final three contests at home. This week the Mustangs entertain Cal State Fullerton and Long Beach State.
Cal State Northridge's Jasmine Erving drained a career-best 35 points against Cal State Fullerton (2/12) to become just the ninth player in CSUN history to amass 1,000 career points. Her 35-point performance was also the most by a Big West player this season. Erving, the sixth Big West player to eclipse 1,000 career points this season, currently owns 1,030 career points.
Scoring a season-best 24 points in UC Riverside's win over Cal State Fullerton on Feb. 5, Brittany Waddell reached the 1,000-point plateau and owns 1,044 points.
Cal State Fullerton's Lauren Chow is also closing in on the milestone with 925 points, respectively. Teammates Megan Richardson and Lyndsey Grove captured the status symbol earlier this season. Richardson currently owns 1,239 career points, while Grove has recorded 1,068 points.
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 holds 1,254 career points, 1,244 of which occurred during her time competing in the Big West Conference to rank her 55th in the league annals. Fellow Aggie Heidi Heintz drained her 1,000th point on January 6. Heintz enters the week with 1,091 career points, 517 of which came during her time at San Francisco.
Highlanders Accepting Charity
When given the opportunity to score easy points, UC Riverside players have been taking full advantage. Brittany Waddell and Tre'Shonti Nottingham sit one-two in the Big West Conference for free-throw percentage. Waddell owns an impressive league-leading .902 clip, while Nottingham holds on to second place shooting .889.
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 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 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 and Jorja Hoehn before assuming reins on a permanent basis in 1998. Since then, he has compiled an impressive overall record of 227-144, led UC Davis to a third-place finish at the 1997 NCAA Division II Championships, Womens National Invitational Tournament berths in 2008 and this past winter, and last seasons Big West Conference regular-season title.