Top Teams Battle At The Matadome
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11-12 WBB Release 11
The Undefeated Fall
Both Cal Poly and Cal State Northridge entered the week undefeated in conference play, but both teams stumbled last week and recorded their first losses of the year. UC Davis held off Cal State Northridge, 55-53, Thursday evening, snapping CSUN's three-game win streak. The Matadors returned to their winning ways two days later to notch a 72-68 victory over Pacific and improve to 4-1 in Big West play to lead the league. Cal Poly suffered its first Big West loss to the hands of UC Irvine, 62-60, and currently sits second in the standings with a 3-1 mark.
The top two teams in the league, Cal Poly and Cal State Northridge, face off Thursday, Jan. 19 at The Matadome. The duo split the series last year, with each team winning on their home court.
Highlanders Looking For First Win
Losing a majority of their lineup in the offseason has definitely hurt the former Big West Champion UC Riverside Highlanders. The Highlanders are the lone team in the league without a Big West victory, going 0-6 in the first three weeks of conference play. A season ago, UC Riverside accumulated a 19-13 overall mark and a 11-5 Big West record to finish third in the league. Unfortunately the Highlanders, who list eight freshmen on their 2011-12 roster, lost a majority of their scoring in the offseason. The next opportunity to capture a Big West victory for UC Riverside is Saturday when it hosts Cal State Fullerton at the Student Recreation Center for a 5:00 p.m. tip.
Banner Week For Anteaters
After eight attempts, UC Irvine finally notched its first road win of the season...and its second. The Anteaters opened the week with a 61-53 victory over UC Santa Barbara at The Thunderdome, snapping their eight-game road skid. Two days later UC Irvine improved to 2-8 in road contests after handing co-defending Big West Champion Cal Poly its first league loss of the 2011-12 season by a score of 62-60. This marked the first time in five years that the Anteaters, who were the last team to pick up a win in hostile territory, swept the central coast on their road trip. UC Irvine opened conference play 0-2 but has since strung together four straight victories to improve to 4-2, good enough for third place in the Big West standings. Riding a four-game win streak, UC Irvine returns to the Bren Events Center for the next five contests. The excitement kicks off with a UC Irvine-Cal State Fullerton showdown Wednesday at 7:00 p.m.
Santiago Sets School Record
Senior Kristina Santiago started last week breaking Cal Poly's record for career rebounds, set in 1987, in the Mustangs 71-43 win over UC Riverside. Corralling her 698th career rebound, she surpassed Sherrie Atteberry, who played at Cal Poly from 1983 to 1987, for the top spot. Two days later, Santiago pulled down 10 boards to improve her total to 708 rebounds.
The Changing Looks Of The Highlanders
UC Riverside is one of three teams in Division I women's basketball that has featured 11 different players making at least one start this season. Joining UC Riverside at the top of the list are Louisiana Tech and Loyola Marymount. The Highlanders have also started 11 out of their 12 active players this season and have used a nation-high 11 different starting lineups. It isn't surprising that the Highlanders have showcased so many different starting line-ups in 2011-12 since this is a rebuilding year for them after losing five players due to graduation, including four of its top five scorers.
Titans' War Horse
Megan Richardson, who currently ranks second in the conference in scoring with a 16.7 average, has been a standout for Cal State Fullerton since her freshman campaign. The senior guard has played in every game of her career and has started the last 102 contests. The only games where she did not start were early in her Titan career where she missed five starts at the beginning of her freshman season.
UC Davis' Kasey Riecks has tallied 105 starts during her reign as an Aggie but they have not been consecutive. She missed the first three games of conference play last year due to an injury, snapping her streak of consecutive games started.
The Pacific Tigers (9-7, 3-2), led by Erica McKenzie's 13. 2 scoring average, pace the Big West Conference in scoring with a 72.2 average. They are even more impressive from the floor in conference-only contests, scoring a league-best 77.6 points per game. Pacific has scored 90-or-more points in three contests this year, with their most recent coming in a 93-56 victory over Long Beach State on January 12. The 37-point victory was the largest by the Tigers in the history of the series with Long Beach and tied for the sixth-largest conference victory in program history.
During Cal State Fullerton's 76-74 victory over Nevada on Dec. 10, senior guard Lauren Chow drained her 200th career three-pointer, becoming just the eighth Big West player to reach the milestone. Her quest to the top began early in her Titan career as she registered 77 three-pointers her freshman year, earning her 2007-08 Big West Women's Basketball Freshman of the Year honors. Her mark ranks her seventh all-time in the Big West single-season list. With 209 total three-pointers, she is just six buckets away from grabbing the sixth spot.
Also making her way towards her 200th bucket from behind-the-arc is UC Santa Barbara's Emilie Johnson, who currently owns 188 baskets.
1,000 And Counting
Six current Big West players have eclipsed the 1,000-career point milestone, with the newest member, Kasey Riecks from UC Davis, joining the ranks last week. The Aggie drained 15 points in UC Davis' 78-62 win over Long Beach State Saturday afternoon, vaulting her to 1,006 career points.
Follow all six players as they climb the Big West rankings.
Name, School - points (Big West ranking)
Kristina Santiago, Cal Poly - 1,606 (22nd)
Megan Richardson, Cal State Fullerton - 1,525 (27th)
Jasmine Erving, Cal State Northridge - 1,307 (50th)
Emilie Johnson, UC Santa Barbara - 1,176 (70th)
Lauren Chow, Cal State Fullerton - 1,070 (98th)
Kasey Riecks, UC Davis - 1,006 (112th)
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 womens 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 In 2011-12
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' womens 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. 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 womens basketball coach in the offseason. 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.