Big West Takes On Top 25
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11-12 WBB Release 4
Top 25 Action
UC Davis and Cal State Fullerton have their hands full this week, as they both face nationally-ranked opponents. The Aggies visit No. 5 Stanford Wednesday evening and the Titans entertain No. 24 Gonzaga Friday at 7:00 p.m. The Aggies and the Cardinal last meet in Palo Alto, Calif., in the first round of the 2011 NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament. Stanford won the meeting, 86-59. The Titans and Bulldogs also battled each other last year with Gonzaga coming out on top.
Cal Poly, Cal State Northridge
Claim Thanksgiving Tournament Titles
Cal Poly (3-2) and Cal State Northridge (4-2) hosted basketball tournaments over the Thanksgiving holiday, and both teams were prosperous at their home events. Cal Poly defeated Austin Peay and San Jose State to capture the Cal Poly Thanksgiving Tournament crown, while the Matadors downed Colgate and West Virginia for the Woodland Hills Holiday Inn Thanksgiving Tournament championship. The win over the Mountaineers marked the first CSUN victory against a BIG EAST school and it gave the Matadors' their fourth victory in the month of November, a first since the 1998-99 season.
UC Davis Opens Season With A Bang
After three weeks of competition, the UC Davis Aggies own a 5-0 mark. Their impressive 5-0 start on the year, matched its start to the 2007-08 season which was the Aggies' first as an official member of the Big West Conference.
Beginning the year with success isn't uncommon for UC Davis, just last year it 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.
Two 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 (23.0) and rebounding (12.0). Cal State Northridge's Jasmine Erving is also channeling the famous In N Out favorite as Erving is averaging 15.2 points and 10.7 boards per game. She has tallied a double-double in four of the Matadors' six contests this season, tying her for seventh in the nation for most double-doubles.
Everyone's A Winner
Pacific and UC Irvine entered last week as the only two teams without a win, but that is no longer the case. The Tigers picked up their first win on Tuesday, Nov. 22, rolling over Cal State Bakersfield, 96-73, on the road as the Tigers tallied 74 points in the paint, including 29 lay-ups. Pacific tied a school-record with 34 assists and posted the second-most points in a true road game in program history. The success didn't stop there, as the Tigers posted their second straight victory against SIU-Edwardsville behind a career-best 24 points from junior Kendall Rogers.
The Anteaters picked up their first victory of the young season on Thanksgiving after four players recorded double-figure points to lift UC Irvine to a 62-48 win over Nicholls State in the first game of the Global Sports Cage Classic. The Anteaters went on to go 2-1 in the tournament, improving to 2-5 on the season.
Santa Clara Battles Big West
West Coast Conference member Santa Clara is in the midst of a four-game swing versus Big West opponents and the Broncos kicked off the run with a 73-63 victory against Long Beach State. This week they have three Big West contests on tap. They open the week hosting UC Davis (11/28) before traveling to Cal State Northridge (12/1) and UC Irvine (12/3). As a whole, the conference is currently 8-3 against the West Coast Conference.
Aggies Receive National Recognition
Once again, UC Davis is ranked in the Collegeinsider.com Top 25 Mid-Major poll. In the November 22 poll, the Aggies were ranked 14th, thanks in part to their unblemished start to the 2011-12 season. While UC Davis is the only Big West team ranked in the Top 25, two Big West schools are receiving votes - Cal State Fullerton and Cal Poly.
Home Sweet Home
Many teams have been struggling on the road this season, but when playing in front of their hometown fans, the luck seems to change. In fact, four Big West teams are undefeated so far this season with UC Davis leading the charge. The Aggies are 3-0 at The Pavilion, while Cal Poly and Cal State Northridge, who both opened the home portion of their schedule last week, are 2-0 when playing on their home court. The final team of the winning quartet is Long Beach State, who had the luxury of kicking off the 2011-12 season with a victory in The Walter Pyramid, but has since been on the road for a seven-game trek. They close out the road trip this week with contests at Seattle (12/2) and Washington (12/4). The other three teams have the opportunity to extend their home win streaks this week.
Career Night For Mustangs
This year's Cal Poly team is far from being a one-woman-show as three players notched career-best performances in the Mustangs' win over Austin Peay. Senior Ashlee Burns tied a career-high with a 22-point performance, senior Christine Martin drained a career-best 17 points off the bench and junior Caroline Reeves tallied a career-high 10 rebounds. Need more proof that when Cal Poly is on the court it is a team effort, two different Mustangs have already won Big West Player of the Week accolades with Jonae Ervin claiming week one and Kristina Santiago grabbing week twos award.
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 second-place Gauchos return much of their team including All-Big West First Team pick Emilie Johnson, Honorable Mention selection Sweets Underwood and All-Freshman Team choice Nicole Nesbit. Leading the charge for the third-place UC Davis Aggies is a trio of returning starters - Hana Asano, Samantha Meggison and Kasey Riecks. Finishing fourth with a total of 120 points is the UC Riverside womens basketball program.
Garnering the fifth slot in the 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 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.