The road back to first place in the Big West Conference begins on Saturday night for the Gauchos.

The UCSB women’s basketball team hosts Cal Poly on Saturday at 7 p.m. in the Thunderdome. After losing its first Big West game of the year – and the first in its last 13 tries against Idaho – last Saturday, UCSB stands in third place in the conference, a game ahead of the Mustangs.

The Gauchos gave up a season-high 50 points in the second half against an Idaho team that features the nation’s leading scorer in Emily Faurholt.

The Mustangs are a stark contrast to the Idaho Vandals. Instead of relying on a high-powered offense, the Mustangs rely on a defense that features freshman guard Sparkle Anderson. Anderson is third in the conference, averaging a little more than three steals per game.

Anderson leads the Mustangs with 11.7 points per game and 40 assists. Junior forward Katy Paterson is second on the team with 10.6 points per game and a team-high 5.7 rebounds per game.

After a solid 2-0 start in the Big West, Cal Poly dropped both of its conference games last weekend and has fallen to fifth place. Idaho defeated the Mustangs 84-53 with 20 points contributed by Big West Player of the Week Heather Thoelke. Thoelke dropped 17 points, 15 of them on three-pointers, against the Gauchos on Saturday. Two days after the Idaho loss, the Mustangs ran into more bad luck against Utah State, handing the Aggies their first win of the season.

UCSB is led by senior center Lindsay Taylor, who is averaging 15 points and 6.8 rebounds per game. Junior forward Kristen Mann is second on the team at 13.4 points per game and leads the Gauchos in rebounding with 7.1 per game. Senior guard April McDivitt has been out of the last two games after suffering a concussion during a game against Irvine. If McDivitt cannot play, the Gauchos will rely on freshman guard Erin O’Bryan. O’Bryan is coming off of the best game of her short career, having scored 10 points against Idaho.

KCSB-FM 91.9 will broadcast the game from the Thunderdome at 7 p.m.