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Women's Basketball

Big West Opens New Season On The Road

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11-12 WBB Release 1

11/8/2011

Big West Opens New Season On The Road
All nine Big West Conference schools tip-off the season this weekend, with eight of them doing so in hostile territory. Most teams wont be racking up a lot of frequent flier miles since many of the road contests are against western teams. UC Riverside heads to the Grand Canyon state to tackle Arizona State and Northern Arizona, while UC Davis, UC Irvine and UC Santa Barbara visit the Pacific Northeast to battle a mix of schools. Cal State Northridge and Cal State Fullerton remain in the Golden State. The Matadors face Sacramento State Friday, Nov. 11 at 3:00 p.m. and the Titans visits Sacramento State the same day for a 5:00 p.m. tip.

The remaining two schools, Pacific and Long Beach State, are set to make the trek cross country for matchups against a pair of east coast opponents. The Tigers take on the Fairfield Stags and Long Beach State heads to Syracuse, with both teams taking place on Sunday, November 13 at 10:00 a.m.

Prior to taking on the Orangewomen, the 49ers turn the lights on at The Walter Pyramid Friday, Nov. 11 as they open the 2011-12 season hosting Utah Valley at 7:00 p.m. Long Beach is the lone conference team to play a home contest opening weekend.

Mustangs Tabbed To Repeat At Regular Season Champion
Cal Poly was selected to repeat as the Big West womens basketball regular season champion for the 2011-12 season, as voted on by the media in the Big West women's basketball preseason poll. The Mustangs collected 11 of the possible 24 first-place votes and 200 total points.

Last season, Cal Poly found itself knotted for first place with UC Santa Barbara in the Big West standings with a 12-4 mark. The Mustangs welcome back 2009-10 Big West Women's Basketball Player of the Year Kristina Santiago, who missed last season due to a torn ACL. During her junior campaign (2009-10), she led the conference in scoring (19.6) while ranking second in steals per game (2.41), total steals (70), rebounding (8.5) and field goal percentage (.547). She will be headlining a roster that showcases an even mix of veterans and fresh faces. Included in the mix are senior Abby Bloetscher, juniors Kayla Griffin and Caroline Reeves and sophomore Jonae Ervin.

The second-place Gauchos, coming off a share of the Big West regular-season title, return much of their team including All-Big West First Team pick Emilie Johnson, Honorable Mention selection Sweets Underwood, All-Freshman Team choice Nicole Nesbit, as well as starters Kelsey Adrian and Angelei Aguirre. While Johnson is the Gauchos' top returner in scoring, Underwood will lead the way on the boards after finishing third in the league last year with a 6.9 rebound average. The Gauchos might have a lot of familiar faces on the roster, but the coaching staff had a changing of the guard in the offseason. Carlene Mitchell, who has spent the past 10 seasons at Rutgers with the previous three as associate head coach, was named UC Santa Barbara's new head women's basketball coach in the offseason.

Like UCSB, the Aggies of UC Davis also begin the season with a new, yet familiar, face as the head coach of the squad. Jennifer Gross, former associate head coach for the Aggies, begins her first season at the helm of the UC Davis' women's basketball program. Leading the charge for UC Davis this year is a trio of returning starters - Hana Asano, Samantha Meggison and Kasey Riecks. In 2009-10 they combined for nearly one-third of the Aggies' total points, while tallying a .368 field goal percentage. Meggison started all 33 contests and Asano and Reicks started 31 and 29, respectively.

Finishing fourth with a total of 120 points is the UC Riverside womens basketball program. In the offseason the Highlanders lost five players due to graduation, including four of its top five scorers, so look at 2011-12 to be a rebuilding year. This year's Highlanders squad will be led by junior TreShonti Nottingham, who paced UC Riverside with 13.5 points per game last season, good enough for eighth in the league. The All-Big West First Team selection also finished in the top 10 in three-point field goal percentage with a .374 clip.

Garnering the fifth slot in the preseason poll with 107 points is Cal State Fullerton and UC Irvine earned the sixth spot after acquiring 91 points. The pair of Orange County schools were followed by Cal State Northridge (73), Pacific (66) and Long Beach State (63).

New Head Coaches Make Debut This Weekend
UC Davis and UC Santa Barbara are both featuring a fresh face at the helm of their programs.

Jennifer Gross, former associate head coach for the Aggies, begins her first season at the helm of the UC Davis' women's basketball program in 2011-12. Her promotion to head coach came after former head coach Sandy Simpson announced last October his retirement from coaching following this past season. He garnered a program-best 251 wins. Gross and her staff look to build on a memorable 2010-11 season where UC Davis captured a Big West Tournament championship and earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament where they fell to second-ranked Stanford.

Carlene Mitchell, who has spent the past 10 seasons at Rutgers with the previous three as associate head coach, was named UC Santa Barbara's new head women's basketball coach in the offseason to replace former head coach Lindsay Gottlieb left for a position at California. In the first head coaching job in a distinguished career on the sidelines, Mitchell inherits a Gaucho squad that has won 14 Big West regular-season titles in the past 16 years.

Titan Tandem
In 2010-11, Cal State Fullerton had two players eclipse the 1,000-point milestone with Megan Richardson concluding the year with 1,258 career points and Lyndsey Grove tallying 1,098 points. Teammate Lauren Chow just missed the mark with 949 career points. Luckily for the Titans, two of their three top scorers return for the new season as Richardson and Chow will be the lone seniors in a lineup that welcomes back seven letterwinners.

Erving Leads Young CSUN Squad
Senior Jasmine Erving, 2010-11 Second Team All-Big West member, leads a Matador roster that showcases five upperclassmen (2 seniors, 3 juniors) and seven underclassmen (2 sophomores and 5 freshmen). Erving finished second in the Big West Conference last season averaging 14.9 points per contest and fourth in rebounding with a 6.9 average. Junior Violet Alama, who recorded the league's sixth-best free throw percentage of .790, also returns to the lineup for the Matadors.

Youth Supremacy
Once again Long Beach State will showcase a multitude of fresh faces as they welcome six freshmen to this year's lineup. Back in 2010-11, the 49ers listed three freshmen in their starting rotation. The diaper dandies will be joined by a pair sophomores, juniors and seniors.

Also relying on the young this year are the Pacific Tigers, who return five of their 10 letterwinners from 2010-11, after losing players to both graduation and transfers. Key losses for the Tigers are senior guard Jennifer Fath, senior forward Andrea Swanson to graduation and freshman forward Danielle Peacon. After having four underclassmen start all 31 contests a year ago, and with the loss of some key players, this season seems to be shaping up to showcase yet another young lineup.

Goodenbour Brings Success To 'Eater Nation
In just her third season at the helm of the UC Irvine women's basketball program, Molly Goodenbour has made a positive impact on the Anteaters. Last year UC Irvine (7-9) registered a fifth place finish in the conference standings, its highest league finish since the 2002-03 season when it finished fourth with a 9-7 mark. The Anteaters concluded the 2010-11 season with a 15-15 overall mark to post a .500-or-better record for the first time in eight years.

The Anteaters look to continue its success this season as they welcome back a majority of its 2010-11 lineup, which includes a trio of starters in senior Kiara Belen, sophomore Jacquelyn Marshall and junior Jazmyne White. White, one of two players to start all 30 games, averaged 6.5 points and 5.7 rebounds per contests and fired an impressive .437 field goal percentage. Belen and Marshall also contributed to the Anteaters' success last season with Belen draining 5.8 points and Marshall averaging 7.2 points per game.

New Look For Riverside
The UC Riverside women's basketball program lost five players due to graduation, including four of its top five scorers, so look at 2011-12 to be a rebuilding year. The Highlanders are coming off a season where they finished third in the league with an 11-5 mark, posted an overall record of 19-13 and participated in their second WNIT event.