Light Week For Women's Basketball
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11-12 WBB Release 5
This week's Big West women's basketball schedule is a bit lighter than usual as many schools take a break for finals. Only one game is featured on each of the days from Tuesday through Friday, while the weekend is jam-packed with all nine teams competing. Cal State Fullerton kicks off the week with a contest at Arizona State Tuesday, Dec. 6 at 5:30 p.m.
UC Davis Opened Season With A Bang
The UC Davis Aggies opened the 2011-12 season with an impressive 5-0 mark, matching its start to the 2007-08 season which was the Aggies' first as an official member of the Big West Conference. Unfortunately their win streak came to an end when the Aggies fell to Santa Clara Monday, Nov. 28. In a busy week, UC Davis also dropped a contest to No. 5 Stanford before picking up its sixth win of the season against Sacramento State to improve to 6-2.
998, 999, 1,000!!!
On Friday, December 2 senior Lauren Chow became the 21st Cal State Fullerton Titan to reach 1,000 career points. Chow, who owns 1,006 points, is one of two current Titans with 1,000-plus career points as teammate Megan Richardson currently has 1,371 career points, ranking her 40th in the Big West record book.
Career-Best Night Lifts UCSB To Victory
UC Santa Barbara got back on track last weekend with a 60-41 victory over West Coast Conference foe San Francisco. The win was spearheaded by a Gauchos' duo that posted career-high performances. Sophomore Melissa Zornig tied a career-high with 17 points and junior Kristen Tilleman set a career-best with 16 rebounds. UC Santa Barbara plays just one contest this week against UNLV Saturday evening at The Thunderdome. A win against the Rebels will even the Gauchos' record to 4-4.
A Little Help
For the second time this season, Kassandra McCalister tallied a career-best nine assists in UC Irvine's 88-82 victory over Santa Clara. McCalister first posted her career-best performance of nine assists on Nov. 16 against Cal State Bakersfield, which is the most by a Big West Conference player this season. The senior guard also notched 19 points against the Broncos, all in the second half, to help the Anteaters pick up the conference's first win over the Santa Clara in four attempts.
After a 0-3 start to the season, the Pacific Tigers have turned things around and managed to string together three wins, all of which were on the road. The win streak includes an exciting 75-70 overtime victory to Nevada on November 30. The Tigers bounced back from a double-digit deficit with two minutes left in the game to tie the score and send it to overtime. This week Pacific hosts Florida Friday evening before visiting San Diego for a Sunday matinee.
Aggies Maintain Poll Position
UC Davis continues to be ranked in the Collegeinsider.com Top 25 Mid-Major poll. In the December 6 poll, the Aggies (6-2) are ranked 16th. UC Davis is the only Big West team ranked in the Top 25, but Cal Poly and Cal State Fullerton were receiving votes earlier this season.
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 for two Big West teams. The Aggies are 4-0 at The Pavilion, but play the next four contests on the road, beginning with Saint Mary's Saturday, Dec. 10 at 5:00 p.m.
Long Beach State, who had the luxury of kicking off the 2011-12 season with a victory in The Walter Pyramid, finally returns home to play in front of its hometown fans this week following a season-long, seven-game trek. The 49ers host Nevada Thursday at 7:00 p.m. Following the showdown with the Wolfpack, Long Beach State plays six of their next seven contests at home, which includes the Beach Classic Presented by Residence Inn/Courtyard Dec. 18-19.
Led by Methlyn Onogonubo and Jazmyne White's impressive shooting, who sit one-two in the Big West for field goal percentage, UC Irvine paces the league with an impressive .457 field goal percentage. Currently ranked 15th in the country, the Anteaters are one of only two Big West teams firing a .400-or-better clip, with second place Cal Poly recording a .424 shooting percentage. Individually, Onogonuba owns a .625 clip, while White is shooting .592 from the field.
Look Out Below
Long Beach State's Ella Clark has been nothing but spectacular on defense this season. In seven games played, she has averaged 2.57 blocks per contest, nearly one block more than second place Jasmine Erving (Cal State Northridge). The sophomore forward recorded a career-high seven blocks in LBSU's game versus Utah Valley on November 11 to help boost her average. In her first season donning the black and gold, Clark established a 49er freshman record with 55 blocks.
Highlanders Back In Action
Following a 13-day hiatus for finals, UC Riverside returns to the court Sunday, Dec. 11 when the Highlanders visit Washington State for a 3:30 p.m. tip. UC Riverside is continuing its season-long five-game road trip and will stay in the Northwest for upcoming contests at Idaho (Dec. 15) and Gonzaga (Dec. 17). UC Riverside is on a three-game skid, but two of its losses were by just three points.
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 third-place UC Davis 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.