When the UCSB women’s basketball needed someone to step up and assume the role of leader, junior forward Kristen Mann answered the call. Mann was named Big West Player of the Week and averaged 18 points, eight rebounds and four assists during last week’s games on the road against UC Riverside and Cal State Fullerton.
“I think Kristen has been stepping up in her leadership with the team for the last month,” UCSB Head Coach Mark French said. “She really has been doing a great job in terms of trying to get us back in the right direction. I think it’s a credit to her that she is doing that cause sometimes your start isn’t willing to do that, they are more concerned with their own stats and I don’t think Kristen is particularly concerned with her own stats.”
When senior guard April McDivitt went down to injury against Irvine in early January the team needed a leader on the court and Mann responded.
“It was when McDivitt went down and I took it upon myself to be more demanding with my teammates,” Mann said. “It’s not like me to get into someone’s face and I told them I would do it. I told them it’s nothing personal and it was for the team’s sake.”
Mann has always been a tremendous player for the Gauchos, but stepping up into the role of vocal leader is something new for the third-year star.
“I think it’s an area of real growth for her, I know she hasn’t done that for us, maybe she did that in high school, but it’s something she can do,” French said. “Part of it is how hard she has worked this season.”
Mann scored a season high 21 points on 9 of 12 shooting against Riverside on Thursday and then followed that performance with 15 points against Fullerton on Saturday. Mann’s four three-pointers against the Titans were a career high and her five assists also tied a career high.
Mann has scored in double digits 16 times this season and is seventh in the Big West, averaging 13.4 points per game. The native of Santa Ana is only 20 points away from becoming the 18th player in school history to score 1,000 points in a career.
“I had no idea,” Mann said. “That’s a really cool honor just to know that there are so many tremendous athletes just to go through our basketball program that have helped us get to where we are right now. That’s pretty cool to be a part of the 1,000 point club.”
The Gauchos are currently riding a five-game winning streak and host the University of Idaho on Thursday. Santa Barbara hopes to avenge their only Big West loss of the season suffered at Idaho three weeks ago.