Big West Seeds And Quarterfinal Sites Set
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The seeds and pairings for the 2011-12 Big West Women’s Basketball Tournament have been determined. No. 1 Cal Poly, No. 2 Cal State Northridge, No. 3 UC Irvine and No. 4 UC Davis will serve as hosts for quarterfinal action on Tuesday, March 6. All four games will tip at 7:00 p.m.
In its final win of the regular season, Cal Poly clinched the regular season title, its second straight after splitting the championship with UC Santa Barbara in 2010-11. Cal Poly will face No. 8 Cal State Fullerton at Mott Gym. Cal Poly holds a 2-0 advantage over the Titans in regular season play.
Cal State Northridge earned the No. 2 seed with the biggest turnaround season collecting 15 wins, in comparison to last season’s four victories. The Matadors will house No. 7 Long Beach State at The Matadome where they hold a 10-4 home court record. The two competitors have split the season series this season with each team winning on its home court.
A three way tie at 9-7 left UC Davis, UC Irvine and Pacific’s tournament fate in the hands of the Big West's tiebreaker system. UC Irvine took the top slot at No. 3 with a 3-1 record against the other two tied teams. UC Davis claimed the fourth seed and Pacific was fifth.
UC Santa Barbara finished at .500 (8-8) for the No. 6 seed and travels to host site No. 3 UC Irvine at the Bren Events Center. The final match-up will take place with No. 4 UC Davis entertaining No. 5 Pacific at The Pavilion, as the Aggies hold a 2-0 regular season record over the Tigers.
The four advancing teams will play Friday, March 9 starting at noon in the semifinals at Honda Center, with the championship game taking place Saturday, March 10 at 2:00 p.m.
Mustangs Claim No. 1 Seed
Cal Poly started the week with a loss to UC Davis, snapping its nine-game winning streak and possible chance at a solo Big West Regular Season Title. In its last game of the regular season, Cal Poly was able to take an 88-66 victory over Pacific, making the Mustangs the Big West Conference Regular Season Champions and the No. 1 seed going into Big West Tournament. This is the second title for the women’s basketball program finishing the regular season 16-13 overall and 12-4 in league play.
With the win, senior Kristina Santiago set records, recording her 1,844th point with her second field goal of the game and coming out with her 16th double-double on the season. She scored a game-high 33 points, going 13-of-16 from the floor and making 6-of-8 free throws. On the night she also finished with a career-high five blocks, three assists and one steal.
The senior broke into the top 10 for all-time career points in Big West history, currently ranking eighth. With her career-total 1,844 points for the Mustangs, Santiago snagged the top spot in all-time career points scored in Cal Poly program history. She broke the record held by Laura Buehning (1,843) when she played at Cal Poly between 1979 to 1982.
Northridge Changes Course
Cal State Northridge has posted one of the best win-differential records in the NCAA Division I conference this season in comparison to last season’s finish. With just four wins in the 2010-2011 season under first-year head coach Jason Flowers, the Matadors have turned it around in a matter of a year with a total of 17 wins this season.
Finishing the regular season 17-12 overall and 11-5 in conference, Flowers will be making his first appearance in the post-season conference tournament as the number two seed. This will be the first appearance for the Matadors in the Big West Conference Basketball Tournament since the 2008-2009 season and the highest seed Northridge has entered the tournament in program history (2004-05, No. 4, 2005-06, No. 7, 2006-07, No.4, 2008-09, No. 8).
Riverside Finishes Early
UC Riverside lost a chance to compete in the post-season tournament after a five-point overtime loss to UC Irvine last week (65-60), to finish the season 5-24 overall and 3-13 in league competition. The Highlanders played without leading scorer Tre’Shonti Nottingham in the final game of the season, but senior Brittany Palmer stepped up for her last competition in the blue and gold with a career-high 19 points, going 2-for-2 from the arc and 7-of-8 from the free-throw line.
This is the first time since the 2000-2001 season that the Highlanders have not made an appearance in the post-season tournament.
1,000 And Counting
Six current Big West players have eclipsed the 1,000-career point milestone. Kristina Santiago has taken the top spot in Cal Poly history for all-time career points scored, averaging 23.1 points per game. Senior Megan Richardson sits fifth in all-time career points scored as a Titan, just six points away from breaking into the top three. Jasmine Erving is just four-points shy of tying her single-season record of points scored (447) , sitting in seventh place in program history, as well as ranking second in all-time career points scored in Matador history (1,517).
Follow all six players as they climb the Big West rankings.
Name, School - points (Big West ranking)
Kristina Santiago, Cal Poly - 1,844 (8th)
Megan Richardson, Cal State Fullerton - 1,729 (14th)
Jasmine Erving, Cal State Northridge - 1,517 (T29th)
Emilie Johnson, UC Santa Barbara - 1,310 (51st)
Lauren Chow, Cal State Fullerton - 1,305 (52nd)
Kasey Riecks, UC Davis - 1,061 (98th)
Down To The Wire
In 2011-12 Big West Conference play there has been little margin left for error with close contests in nearly every competition. Closing out the season with seven games last week, four of the seven contests ended in a five-point margin or less victory, with an overtime contest played between UC Irvine and UC Riverside. In league play this season, a total of 26 games have been a down-to -the-wire situation were the meeting has been decided by five points of fewer.
Cal State Northridge leads the conference in neck-in-neck matchups with seven of its contests decided by less than five points. The Matadors have gone 4-3 in those late-decision games, falling in two of those competition in a double-overtime battle.
A total of 21 players will be graduating from the 2011-2012 Big West women’s basketball rosters - Cal Poly and UC Davis (4), Cal State Fullerton, Cal State Northridge, Long Beach State, UC Irvine, UC Riverside and UC Santa Barbara (2), and Pacific (1). In the aforementioned class, the Big West is graduating numerous key players that have made history in their individual programs as well as in Big West history.
Kristina Santiago will be leaving the biggest mark in her three years of play in a Mustangs uniform. Santiago leads the league in scoring with 23.1 points per game average, .558 shooting percentage and averaging 10.1 rebounds, garnering herself a spot in numerous categories nationally and breaking both conference and institution scoring records.
Cal State Northridge senior Jasmine Erving had 12 points and nine rebounds in her final regular season contest for the Matadors against Cal State Fullerton in a 60-51 success. Erving finished 3-of-8 from the field but a perfect 6-of-6 from the line in her final regular season home game. Over her career, Erving made the Big West 1,000-point club and counting list with 1,517 career points thus far, while starting in all 29 contest in her senior season.
Megan Richardson who currently ranks second in the conference in scoring with a 16.2 average, has been a standout for Cal State Fullerton since her freshman campaign. She has scored in double figures in 23 of the team’s 29 games this season, while holding the 14th spot in all-time career scoring Big West history with 1,729 points. She is among three historical Titans to score 400 points or more in three-consecutive seasons. The senior guard has played in every game of her career and has started the last 116 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.
The Aggies are graduating leading scorer Samantha Meggison who has started each game for Davis in her senior season. Meggison averages 11.2 points on the season while scoring a team-high 13 points in her final regular season game against UC Santa Barbara last week, where the Aggies dropped 60-56 at The Pavilion.
Senior guard for the Gauchos, Emilie Johnson, has had a strong finish for Santa Barbara scoring in double figures for seven of the last eight contests. Johnson averages 9.4 points per game to lead the Gauchos in scoring, while starting in 25 of her 16 appearances this season and has been named one of the Top-10 nationwide finalists for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award.
Post-Season Women’s Basketball Selections
ESPN will present the exclusive live announcement of the 64-team NCAA Tournament field as part of its Selection Monday Special Show on Monday, March 12, from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. (PST). For the tenth consecutive year, the ESPN networks will combine to present all 63 games from the 2011 NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship.
The Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT) will announce it’s 64-team field later that evening of Monday, March 12 following the NCAA Tournament field announcements. The Postseason WNIT field will consist of 31 teams that receive automatic berths, and 33 teams that are awarded at-large berths.