The best advice for the Gauchos is to hit the ground running against Idaho because they will need the momentum in the coming week.
After completing a perfect three-game homestand, the #17 UCSB women’s basketball team will punch in the clock and go to work again. Santa Barbara flies northeast to face Idaho on Saturday night at 7 in Moscow, Idaho. UCSB has won 20 straight at the Thunderdome, but the road has been a different story. The Gauchos are just 5-3 on the road this season, including its first conference loss in nearly three seasons.
Santa Barbara’s 31-game conference winning streak, which ended on a Jan. 18 loss to Pacific, was recently on the verge of being artificially extended. Instead, Big West officials reached an agreement Thursday to allow UOP’s win against the Gauchos to stand even though a player was academically ineligible.
Pacific junior center Gillian d’Hondt was ruled ineligible for two games by the NCAA, failing to officially enroll in enough units at the start of UOP’s Spring Semester. The Tigers’ leading scorer enrolled in only two classes but attended two additional ones, waiting on approval signatures from professors of the prospective courses in hopes of crashing the waiting list.
On Wednesday evening, Pacific Head Coach Craig Jackson refused to comment about the violations.
Under the illegal violations, d’ Hondt has played in two UOP wins, including the Jan. 18 upset over Santa Barbara. The Big West office had been in deliberation, assessing the violations before reaching a decision on Thursday allowing the Tigers’ wins to stand.
In UOP’s win over the Gauchos d’Hondt scored 23 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. The Tigers might have forfeited a Jan. 16 win to Cal Poly and the game to Santa Barbara if the Big West ruled against them.
“I guess the only thing that [the forfeit] would do, besides give us another win, is keep our Big West winning streak alive,” UCSB Head Coach Mark French said.
Santa Barbara has five players averaging nine points or above, but the Gauchos have relied on one of the nation’s top defenses to win games this season.
“We had a dip in our performance during the middle of the year, but we’ve made it up and we’re where we want to be right now,” French said.