The #18 UCSB women’s basketball team begins a three-game Big West road trip tonight and will shoot for a season sweep against CSUN tonight in the Matadome.
Santa Barbara (10-2 overall, 3-0 in the Big West) tied for the best start in school history with an easy victory over Idaho on Saturday. A win tonight against the lowly Matadors (1-13, 1-2) would give the Gauchos 11 wins in 13 games, better then the current record set by the 1991-92 squad.
“I think we need to just go down there and play at the level that we want to play at,” junior guard Lisa Willett said. “That’s how we try to look at every one of our games that we play in the Big West.”
Since Jan. 1, UCSB has won five straight games and jumped into the top 20 of both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches polls.
“I think it’s great that people are starting to recognize us nationally,” junior center Lindsay Taylor said. “It’s nice that we are beating teams and then being rewarded for our efforts.”
The Gauchos have been dominating opponents as of late from all angles. In the post, Taylor has averaged double-digit scoring in the last nine games, including a 20-point outburst against the Vandals on Saturday in which the 6’8″ center nailed back-to-back three-pointers in the second half.
Sophomore forward Brandy Richardson, a three-time player of the year in high school in Hawaii, leads the Big West in rebounds with 10.2 rpg. Since UCSB Head Coach Mark French has called for her to pick up her offensive game, Richardson has met the challenge head-on, scoring a double-double with 11 points and a career-high 17 boards in Santa Barbara’s victory over USC on Jan. 9.
Sophomore guard Mia Fisher is leading the conference in field goal and free throw percentages, tallying incredible .571 and .875 marks, respectively. Willett has averaged double digits in eight straight games.
While the Gauchos made preseason goals of competing in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament, the recent success has forced Santa Barbara to readjust and file a midseason report.
“This team has a lot of potential,” Willett said. “Now we are thinking that our goals for this year might not be high enough.”