The push for its eighth consecutive Big West Conference title begins tonight for the UCSB women’s basketball team. The Gauchos travel to Stockton for a battle against second place Pacific at 7 at the Alex G. Spanos Center.
Santa Barbara disposed of the Tigers during their last meeting, defeating them 73-48 at the Thunderdome on Jan. 24 to reclaim first place in the Big West conference. Four Gauchos scored in double-digits as senior center Lindsay Taylor led the way with 19 points and five rebounds. Junior forward Kristen Mann also had a good game recording a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Santa Barbara went on an 11-0 run to begin the game and never looked back. The Gauchos held the Tigers to only 16 first-half points and 36.7 percent from the field. Only one Tiger scored in double-digits as Pacific scored less than 50 points for only the fourth time all season.
“We played so well in the first five to 10 minutes that it just deflated them. I think a great crowd and a tough defense was too much for them, but it should be a different story [when we play] at Pacific,” UCSB Head Coach Mark French said on Jan. 24.
The Tigers were without the services of senior center Gillian D’hondt, who was out with post concussion symptoms. D’hondt returned the next game against Cal State Northridge and has averaged 11.4 points per game since her return.
Since their loss to UCSB, the Tigers have won three of their last four contests including a 67-52 drubbing of Utah State in Logan on Valentine’s Day. D’hondt leads the Tigers, averaging 13.4 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. Senior forward Andrea Nederostek, who scored a team-high 11 points and pulled down a game-high 13 rebounds against UCSB, is second on the team, averaging 13.3 points per game. The 6’2″ Nederostek leads the team in rebounding, averaging 8.3 points per game.
The Gauchos enter the contest riding an eight-game winning streak in which they have outscored their opponents by an average of 23 points per game. UCSB owns a one-and-a-half game lead over the Tigers entering the contest. A win over Pacific would put UCSB in the driver’s seat for a top seed in the Big West Conference tournament.