Big West Women's Basketball Summer Preview
Last season, Cal Poly won its first Big West Conference regular season championship, posting a 12-4 conference record and a 18-14 overall mark. The Mustangs’ 18 wins tied the school’s record for second-best since making the move to Division I in the 1994-95 season. In the Big West Tournament, the Mustangs were able to secure the only top-seed win in the first round with a 71-53 victory over Cal State Fullerton. Unable to advance in tournament play for the second-consecutive year, Cal Poly lost in the semifinals to No. 7 Long Beach State, 51-48. The Mustangs continued in to the postseason as part of the WNIT field, their second trip in two years, where they fell 90-71 to the Washington Huskies.
• Looking ahead to the new year, Cal Poly loses two-time Big West Player of the Year Kristina Santiago, who concluded her career with the Mustangs last season after leading the league in points per game (23.4), rebounds (9.9) and field-goal percentage (55.5). She finished her career with the most career points in school history (1,924) and claimed eighth in the Big West all-time scoring records. The Mustangs welcome back senior guard Kayla Griffin, who was awarded All-Big West Second Team recognition for her 2011-12 performance, and junior Jonae Ervin, who claimed 2011-12 Big West Hustle Player of the Year and All-Big West honorable mention status.
• The Mustangs are guided by the winningest coach in program history, Faith Mimnaugh, who enters her 16th season at the helm of the women’s basketball squad with a 196-234 overall record. Under her guidance, Cal Poly has posted a .500 or better record in five of its last six seasons.
Cal State Fullerton
• In 2011-12, Cal State Fullerton had two players elevate themselves on the 1,000-point list with Megan Richardson concluding her senior year collecting 1,729 career points and Lauren Chow tallying 1,310 points. Richardson and Chow were the lone seniors in the 2011-12 graduating class, leaving RS sophomore, Mya Oliver who averaged the second-highest points behind Richardson with 8.8 per game to help lead the way in 2012-13.
• Cal State Fullerton opens the 2012-13 season on the road for a single game before hosting two games at Titan Gym against Sacramento State (11/11) and San Francisco (11/17). The Titans started their 2011-12 schedule with a three-game win streak, but dropped five in a row before finishing with three wins heading into conference play. Fullerton hosts their final two nonconference games in Titan Gym followed by its first league matchups against Hawaii (1/3) and Cal State Northridge (1/5) before hitting the road.
• Head Coach Marcia Foster embarks on her 9th season with the Titans, and fourth as head coach of the Fullerton squad. Foster has recruited two new assistant coaches to join in her leadership role for the 2012-13 season. Foster first announced the hire of assistant coach Lori Morris, who has spent the last four seasons as the associate head coach at University of Louisiana, Lafayette. Morris spent four season’s with the Ragin’ Cajuns overseeing team defense and academic progress. The second addition to the staff is Jorge Cerna, assistant women’s basketball coach and director of player development at San Diego State for the past four seasons. He joins the coaching staff as the second newcomer for the 2012-13 season having worked in all areas of the Aztec’s program, including recruiting, scouting and player development.
Cal State Northridge
• Northridge retires 2011-12 All-Big West First Teamer Jasmine Erving but has returning leadership in Janae Sharpe, Big West Freshman of the Year in 2011-12, and sophomore guard Ashley Guay. Sharpe averaged 11.4 points in her rookie season and led the team in free throws made and free throws attempted. Look for Guay to continue her leadership at the top of the key after collecting All-Big West Freshman Team and Honorable Mention honors in her first year after leading the Big West in assists (129) and steals (91). The Northridge squad will welcome back eight members while picking up four freshmen and Boise State transfer Cinnamon Lister, who is eligible to play in the 2013-14 season.
• Cal State Northridge kicks off the new season with a two-game home court advantage, taking on Portland (11/9) and Eastern Washington (11/15). Last season the Matadors had a four-game road trip to start the season where they won their first season opener in the past seven seasons and continued with a win over LMU, the first in 15 years. Northridge looks to defend its title in a two-day Thanksgiving Tournament, the Woodland Hills Holiday Inn Thanksgiving Basketball Classic. Last season the team recorded the program’s first win ever over a Big East opponent, West Virginia, to win the 2012 Holiday Inn Woodland Hills Classic. The team hosts five nonconference games at the Matadome and hit the road for an equal amount before starting conference play with a two-game road appearance at UC Riverside (1/3) and Cal State Fullerton (1/5).
• In his second season leading the Matadors, head coach Jason Flowers led his 2011-12 squad to a historic season. Finishing 17-14 overall in 2011-12 compared to only snagging four wins in the 2010-11 campaign, the Matadors recorded one of the best turnaround season in the nation. Northridge finished second in Big West standings making their first appearance in the postseason tournament since the 2008-09 campaign as the highest seed in program history. Flowers took his team to the first round of the WNIT where the Matadors were just two-points shy of advancing past San Diego. Following the success of the Matadors during the 2011-12 season, Flowers was named Big West Coach of the Year.
Long Beach State
• Long Beach proved last season that being on the road was tough after registering a preseason road record of 1-7, while going 4-1 on its home court. The 49ers look to take advantage of playing on a familiar floor to start the 2012-13 season off right. They start the season off with a two-game home stand against Sacramento State (11/9) and Iona (11/11). In the preseason the 49ers play in the Walter Pyramid eight of its 12 games, in comparison to their 2011-12 campaign where they were on the road for eight games out of 14 contests. For the third consecutive year, Long Beach starts at home for conference play taking on opponents Cal Poly (1/3) and UC Santa Barbara (1/5).
• The 49ers were picked to finish last in the 2011 Preseason Coaches Poll, but became the first team in Big West history to knock off a No.1 and No. 2 seed in postseason tournament play. Long Beach State made it to the final showdown of the 2012 Big West Women’s Basketball Tournament only to fall to UC Santa Barbara, 63-54 to end their season 14-18 overall and 7-9 in conference play. The No. 7 seed 49ers were the lowest seed to ever advance to the Big West championship game.
• Inheriting the leadership role in her final season, Tipesa Moorer reached double figures in 24 of her 32 appearances. With Moorer just one of two seniors that the 49ers lost in the offseason, look for young leadership roles to be tailored in the 2012-13 season. Sophomore point guard Hallie Meneses, a member of the 2012 Big West All-Tournament Team may take the lead while accompanied by teammate Alex Sanchez. Sanchez finished her freshman season ranked second on the team in points per game (9.2), rebounding per game (4.9) and total assists (99).
• Jennifer Gross finished her first season at the helm of the UC Davis’ women’s basketball program as head coach in 2011-12, since previously upholding her associate head coach position under Sandy Simpson for seven years. Gross and her staff were coming off a memorable 2010-11 season where UC Davis captured a Big West Tournament championship and earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament where it fell to second-ranked Stanford. Under her guidance, the Aggies continued the wave of success, posting a 17-13 overall record and 9-7 conference record, tying for third in league standings and seeded No. 4 in the Big West Tournament. In her first year, Gross led her squad to their third postseason WNIT tournament in the past five years.
• The Aggies lose their leading scorer and rebounder from last year, Samantha Meggison, and Big West 1,000 point milestone player Kasey Riecks. Meggison was named to the All-Big West Conference first team and teammate Hannah Stephens collected honorable mention recognition. Starting in all 31 games in her senior year, Riecks recorded 1,076 career points. In 2012-12, Stephens returns for her final year, following a junior season where she was the second-highest scorer for the Aggies averaging 9.2 points and 3.1 rebounds per game. The Aggies also picked up five new recruits, including transfer Kelsey Harris from Iowa State who is eligible to play starting in 2013-14.
• Last season UC Davis started with a five-game winning streak against nonconference opponents, to finish 8-4 in preseason play. The Aggies play host to five nonconference matchups this season - Pepperdine (11/9) to start the season, Stanford (11/30), St. Mary’s College (12/6), Santa Clara (12/16) and the University of Washington (12/28) - before starting conference play with a three-game road series to University of the Pacific (1/5), Cal Poly (1/10) and UC Santa Barbara (1/12).
• The Anteaters are under new leadership this season with veteran coach Doug Oliver at the helm. Oliver was an assistant coach for the women’s program last year after serving two seasons with the men’s basketball program. With nearly 40 years of experience, Oliver spent 14 years as a top assistant with the Stanford men’s basketball program. He then served as the head men’s coach at Idaho State from 1998-2006, before returning back to Stanford as lead assistant from 2006-2008. Oliver is familiar with the game and the Irvine program, from his experience on the court as well as having served one year in external relations with UCI Intercollegiate Athletics. He welcomes Annie Mai, Lauren Bowie and Michelle Augustavo to his coaching staff for the 2012-13 season. Mai and Bowie are both program alumni and Augustavo joins the team from the University of Washington.
• UC Irvine loses 2011-12 major contributor, Kassandra McCalister, who led the Anteaters in her senior year averaging 13.4 points per game. Two transfer students look to help lift the Anteaters to their full potential with the loss of both McCalister and Kiara Belen, who started all 30 games in her final season averaging 6.1 points per game. Vanessa Aguilar heads to UCI after playing for the Los Angeles Valley College Monarchs where she averaged 18 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists to help her team to a 18-12 record in 2012. She was named to the postseason Southern Division all-conference team and was a three-time Western State Conference Player of the Week. Irvine also welcomes Jennifer Tsurumoto of Santa Rose College. She led her team in scoring (13.9) and assists (4.0) while named Big 8 Most Valuable Player in 2012.
• Last year UC Irvine lost the 2011-12 season dropping its first four contests with continued struggles overlapping into the first two matchups of conference play. The ‘Eaters were able to bounce back to win five-straight league matchups, finishing the season in a three-way tie for third with a 9-7 conference record. This season UCI begins at the Bren Center to play four of its five preseason games on its home court. The Anteaters take on a full 11-game nonconference schedule with familiar opponents such as Cal State Bakersfield and San Diego State before starting league play against UC Santa Barbara at home (1/3).
• The UC Riverside women’s basketball program goes up against 15 opponents this season that reached postseason play in the 2012 season, while playing six of the its first eight matchups at home. The Highlanders start the season hosting NCAA Sweet 16 participant Gonzaga on Friday, November 14 before continuing top-notch competition against WNIT contender Utah State (11/15) and NCAA First Round participant Princeton (11/23. The Highlanders follow-up that impressive trio with contests versus Washington State (11/28), Northern Arizona (12/2) and Idaho (12/7).
• This year’s Highlanders squad will once again be led by senior Tre’Shonti Nottingham, who paced UC Riverside with 14.4 points per game last season, good enough for fourth in the league. The All-Big West First Team selection also finished fourth in three-point field goal percentage with a .372 clip, while pacing the league with a 3.3 steals per game average. The team also welcomes back center, Natasha Hadley, who led the UC Riverside with a .444 field goal percentage in her sophomore year, along with carrying the team with 146 rebounds. The dynamic duo accounted for 969 of the Highlanders’ 1,599 total points in the 2011-12 season
• Head Coach John Margaritis (127-120) continues his quest with the Highlanders in the 2012-13 season to make it back to the postseason. Last year was the first time since 2001 that Riverside had not made an appearance in the Big West Tournament. With only three conference wins and five total on the season, the Highlanders finished the season 5-24, making it the first season Margaritis has not reach .500 in his eight years as head coach. The Highlanders lost three of their five starts in 2010-11, with 11 of the 16 on last season roster being underclassman. Before last season Margaritis led Riverside in making the postseason in five of six years (three NCAA Tournament appearances and two WNIT appearances). The Highlanders have won three Big West Tournament titles and one Big West Conference regular season title during Margaritis’ UC Riverside tenure. Margaritis is only 12 conference wins away from becoming just the sixth Big West coach to reach 100 league victories.
UC Santa Barbara
• First-year head coach Carlene Mitchell led her 2011-12 squad to the program’s 14th Big West Tournament title, upsetting No. 2 and No. 5 along the way. With a 63-54 win over Long Beach State in the title game, the Gauchos’ captured their first championship since 2009. The Gauchos, who garnered their 14th title, claimed the 2011-12 trophy as the No. 6 seed, marking the first time in tournament history that the women’s championship was won by a team seeded lower than fourth.
• Absent from the team this year is guard Emilie Johnson, who in 2011-12 led her team in scoring (314), ended her career on a high note after scoring double figures in eight of her last 10 contests. Johnson landed in the all-time career points Big West record book with 1,361, claiming the 43rd position. She led the Gauchos in scoring with 9.5 points per game, while starting in 31 of 32 games in her final season. The All-Big West Second Team recipient leaves leadership in the hands of 2011-12 Big West Tournament MVP Kirsten Tilleman with a supporting cast of last season starters, Destini Mason, Melissa Zornig, Sweets Underwood and Nicole Nesbit.
• UC Santa Barbara faces a challenging 2012-13 schedule with seven non-conference teams who played in the 2012 postseason. The Gauchos will host three of the toughest competitors on familiar grounds in the Thunderdome, USC (11/27), Kentucky (12/21) and Kansas State (12/29). Also included in the home schedule is New Mexico State (11/14) and St. Mary’s (12/21). The Gauchos make their first appearance at the Puerto Vallarta Tournament of Hope, which takes place in Mexico Nov. 20-22, with their first matchup against Oregon State. Placing sixth overall in the regular season, Mitchell is challenging her squad with a rigorous 2012-13 schedule in hopes to defend their tournament title and move up in the regular.
• The University of Hawai’i joins the Big West Conference this season as a new member, as well as welcoming its own new addition in head coach Laura Beeman. Beeman comes to the Rainbow Wahine squad with nearly 20 years of experience on both the collegiate and professional level. Beeman spent the last two seasons at USC as associate head coach under Michael Cooper helping to revitalize the program with 42 combined wins in the last two seasons. In addition to a new head coach, Beeman has appointed three assistants to help lead the women’s team - Mary Wooley, Gavin Petersen and Linnae Barber.
• Hawai’i welcomes seven newcomers to the 2012-13 team, four freshman and three transfers to join the six returnees and two redshirts. Leading scorer in her sophomore season last year, Kamilah Jackson is a starting forward that averaged 13 points and 10.6 rebounds per game with a conference-leading 15 double-doubles in 2011-12. Jackson looks to continue her dominance on the court to fill the void of graduated seniors Breanna Arbuckle, Carlotta Mingo, Rebecca Dew and Courtney Gaddis. Leading the Wahine’s in her freshman season was point guard Alissa Campanero who returns ofr her sophomore campaign after recording 82 assists and 43 three-pointers in her perfect 30 starts in 2011-12.
• The 2012-13 schedule set by head coach Beeman is one capped by a matchup with defending NCAA champions Baylor (11/18), national semifinalist and 12-time defending PAC-12 champs Stanford (11/17) and two-time defending Ohio Valley Conference title winner Tennessee-Martin (11/16). Overall, the Wahine’s host 21 games that feature 12 opponents who saw postseason action last year, six of which played in the NCAA tournament and six competed in the WNIT tournament. Hawaii starts its league play on the mainland against Cal State Fullerton (1/3) and UC Riverside (1/5) before hosting a two-game homestand against UC Irvine (1/9) and Long Beach State (1/13).
• The Tigers return 11 letterwinners from the 2011-12 squad, which includes all five starters from the second half of last year’s season. Pacific has five seniors on the team with leading scorer for the Tigers, Kendall Rodriguez, starting at forward and accompanied by guards Erica McKenzie and Ashley Wakefield. Rodriguez averaged 13 points per game last season and collected First Team All-Big West selection while McKenzie received Honorable Mention. Junior guards Gena Johnson and Sam Pettinger also return with sophomore post Kendall Kenyon, a 2011-12 Big West All-Freshman Team member.
• To start the preseason, Pacific takes a 10-day, four- game excursion through Paris, Lyon and Nice for the tour of France exhibition in August. The Tigers will depart Stockton August 13, and look forward to the jumpstart to the 2012-13 season with Paris being the first stop on the Tour.
• Holding the best overall home and away record for the 2011-12 season, Pacific will start on the road for their first non-conference mathchup before coming home for a four-game home stand. This season the Tigers will be hosting six of their 12-preseason games in comparison to last season, only seeing four from home court. With an overall 18-14 record, the Tigers were able to go 11-4 from home court and 7-9 on the road for the 2011-12 season.
• Pacific ended the 2011-12 season with a bang, as it defeated UC Davis, 59-51, in the first round of the Big West Women’s Basketball Tournament, before falling to Big West Tournament Champion UC Santa Barbara, 84-66, in the semifinals. But the Tigers got another chance at postseason play with a berth to the WNIT, the second postseason bid in program history and the first time as a host site. Pacific defeated Arizona State (77-62) in the first round to later fall to San Diego (83-75) to close out the season. Out of the four Big West postseason matchups, Pacific was the only team to walk away with a “W.”