Tournament-Filled Turkey Time
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11-12 WBB Release 3
Cal Poly (1-2) and Cal State Northridge (2-2) are once again gearing up to host their women's basketball Thanksgiving tournaments. The Mustangs welcome Austin Peay and San Jose State to Mott Gym Friday, Nov. 25 and Saturday, Nov. 26 for the Cal Poly Thanksgiving Tournament. Cal State Northridge's Woodland Hills Holiday Inn Classic also takes place Nov. 25-26 and features Colgate, No. 25 UCLA and West Virginia. The Matadors open with Colgate and will face either the Bruins or Mountaineers on Saturday. Last year CSUN struggled in its home tournament, dropping contests to both Wichita State and Chattanooga.
Hot, Hot, Hot
Two weeks into the season and two teams have maintained a perfect record thus far. UC Davis holds an impressive 4-0 seasoning-opening mark while Cal State Fullerton is kicking off the year with a 2-0 record.
The Titans, looking to extend their win streak to three and open a season 3-0 for the first time since 1996-97, welcome Loyola Marymount to Titan Gym Monday evening before traveling to the Lone Star State for the SMU Thanksgiving Tournament where they face the Mustangs and either Tennessee State or Fresno State. The Aggies remain home for the holidays for its lone game against San Francisco on Tuesday.
It seems as though both teams have replicated their success from the 2010-11 season. Last year UC Davis' kicked off the season with a three-game win streak before falling to then-ranked No. 15 UCLA. After the loss the Bruins, the Aggies rebounded and won seven of their next eight contests. The Titans dropped their season-opener to Eastern Washington last year before winning the next three games.
UCSB vs. WCC Equals Victory
The UC Santa Barbara Gauchos opened the home portion of their schedule last week entertaining a pair of West Coast Conference schools at The Thunderdome. UC Santa Barbara walked away with a 2-0 mark, to even their record at 2-2, after downing both Saint Mary's, 61-52, and Loyola Marymount, 66-49. This week the Gauchos close out a three-game homestand Wednesday evening against Washington and then visit Northern Colorado Nov. 27. They revisit the West Coast Conference the following week with a showdown versus San Francisco.
Three Big West players are currently averaging a double-double on the season. Cal Poly's Kristina is leading the charge as she tops the conference in both scoring (27.3) and rebounding (14.7). Cal State Northridge's Jasmine Erving and UC Santa Barbara's Sweets Underwood are also channeling the famous In N Out favorite as Erving is averaging 15.8 points and 10.0 boards per game and Underwood has recorded 11.8 points and 10.5 rebounds a contest.
Freshman guard Alex Sanchez is perfect from the charity stripe knocking in all 10 of her free throws in this young season. She is the only Big West athlete to have an unblemished free throw shooting mark. In the midst of a seven-game road trip, Long Beach State has a busy holiday week as it is slated to play three contests. The 49ers begin the week at Santa Clara and following that up with contests at Columbia (11/25) and Iona (11/26).
'Eater Duo Shines
With the loss of UC Irvine's top two scorers from a season ago, it seems as if a pair of players are already taking the reigns of this year's squad. Sophomore Jacquelyn Marshall and junior Jazmyne White are making waves in the Anteater offense. Last week against Cal State Bakersfield, Marshall poured in a career-high 29 points, while White recorded a double-double on a career-high 23-point, 10-rebound evening. After four games, White is pacing the Anteaters with 13.8 points per game (7th in the Big West) and Marshall sits second on the team with a 12.8 average (8th in the Big West).
Looking For the 'W'
Pacific and UC Irvine are still on a quest for their first victories of the young 2011-12 season. The Tigers started the new year at Fairfield before tackling No. 4 UConn. After suffering their second loss of the season to the Huskies, Pacific narrowly missed a victory with a 68-67 loss to Saint Marys. This week the Tigers embark on a three-game road trip that begins Tuesday at Cal State Bakersfield.
Following last week's brief, one-game homestand, UC Irvine (0-4) is back on the road for the holiday break as it heads to Eugene, Ore., for the Global Sports Cage Classic where the Anteaters battle Nicholls State, host Oregon and Weber State. The Anteaters hope to find their winning ways in week three, to mirror their efforts from last season where they opened the year 0-3 before winning 11 of the next 12 contests.
Mustangs Tabbed To Repeat As Regular Season Champion
Cal Poly was selected to repeat as the Big West women's 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. 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).
The second-place Gauchos 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.
Leading the charge for the third-place UC Davis Aggies 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 Riecks started 31 and 29, respectively.
Finishing fourth with a total of 120 points is the UC Riverside women's basketball program. This year's Highlanders squad is led by junior Tre'Shonti Nottingham, who paced UCR with 13.5 points per game last season.
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
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.
Once again Long Beach State will showcase a multitude of fresh faces as they welcome six freshmen to this years 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.