Coming off a 22-point victory over Riverside, the UCSB women’s basketball team will look to continue its winning ways when it travels south to take on Fullerton on tonight. The Gauchos are 14-10 overall (8-4 Big West) and currently sit in second place in the conference.
[media-credit name=”Lance Chu” align=”aligncenter” width=”250″][/media-credit] Beginning with a 37-point victory over the Titans back on Jan. 22, UCSB has gone on to win five of seven games to vault themselves up the Big West standings and into contention for a regular season championship.
The Gauchos trail Big West leader Cal Poly by three games in conference, but still have a chance for the regular season title. In order for that to happen, UCSB would need to win its next three conference games and have Cal Poly lose two of its next four conference games. That scenario would set up the Gaucho’s final game of the season at Poly as the deciding factor, with the winner taking the crown as Big West regular season champion.
“I’m hoping for the same level of energy and intensity that we had last time against them,” Head Coach Lindsay Gottlieb said. “We kick-started everything that went right for us on that day with our defense. We are going to try to match that and even make it a little better.”
After avenging a recent loss to Riverside, UCSB fully expects Fullerton to come out motivated with the same goal in mind.
“Fullerton is definitely going to come out a lot harder than they did the last time we played them,” freshman guard Nicole Nesbit said. “We are going to guard them the same way — putting on the pressure and making it hard for them to score.”
Freshman guard Melissa Zornig led the Gauchos with 15 points last time against Fullerton, while senior forward Mekia Valentine had 12 points and 12 rebounds. UCSB held the Titans to 17 percent shooting from the field and dominated defensively.
“There is no question there are things that we can improve on from that last game,” Gottlieb said. “We want to continue to lock them up defensively but show them we can continue to handle different defenses and show we are a better scoring team than last time.”
Senior and junior guards Lyndsey Grove and Megan Richardson lead Fullerton in scoring with 13.4 and 14.8 points per game. Both were contained by the Gaucho’s defense in the last matchup, with Richardson scoring seven and Grove with five.
“We know Fullerton is going to be ready,” Gottlieb said. “They are highly capable and can score a lot, but we just did a job on them last time.”
Despite the 37-point victory, UCSB committed 21 turnovers in the last game against Fullerton.
“They put a lot of pressure,” Nesbit said. “For us it is important to be calm.”
Johnson leads UCSB in scoring with 12.9 points per game, good for 10th in the Big West. Valentine leads the conference in blocks and rebounds per game with 3.7 and 10.2, respectfully.
Although UCSB is in second place, it still has a shot at winning the regular season.
“We are just taking care of what we can take care of — continuing to get better, winning the next game in front of us and not looking too far ahead.”
Tip-off against Fullerton is tonight at 7 p.m. at the Titan Gym.