Idaho has been bad this season, very bad. Tonight the Gaucho women’s basketball team will attempt to punish the Vandals for their offenses tonight at 7 in Moscow, Idaho.
Their recent sins include being the only team to steal a win off UCSB in the past two years, Emily Faurholt’s theft of the current season scoring lead from Gaucho senior forward Kristen Mann and guard Leilani Mitchell’s 33-point assault on the Gauchos last month, which included a 20 point-for-point performance from the free throw line.
Santa Barbara stands alone atop the Big West, currently riding a six-game win streak that puts them at 8-1 in the Big West, 11-7 overall.
Idaho is nipping at the Gaucho’s heels with a 7-2 conference record, tied for second place with Long Beach. Tonight the Vandals will attempt to do what no Big West team has done since the 1994 season: sweep UCSB in league play.
While Vandal post player Faurholt, the Big West Player of the Week, leads the league in scoring on the season with 22.2 points per game, Mann is not far behind – posting 21.4 points a game.
Mann’s PPG average is currently sixth nationally and puts her on pace to set a single-season scoring record for the Gaucho books. She has not failed to post double digits in scoring during a single time this season.
Mitchell is also proving to be a standout this season for the Vandals, with free throw streaks of 21 and 27 straight this season. Her 20-for-20 performance in the Thunderdome was two free throws shy of the NCAA record. She is 52 of 56 (.929) on the season from the line.
In their last meeting, the Vandals opened the game with an 11-0 run that put the Gauchos in a hole they would never dig their way out of.
On the upside, UCSB is currently riding high as they come off an impressive 71-47 dismantling of Fullerton last Saturday in the Thunderdome. The win allowed the Gauchos to pick up a season-high 54 rebounds off the glass while holding Fullerton to only 35.
While the Gauchos hold an all-time record of 15-3 over the Vandals, their potato-eating foes have been a constant annoyance over the past two years, having again given them reason to sweat as they head into their last showdown this season.
In this clash of Big West titans, all bets are off. The fact remains that containing Mitchell and Faurholt will be no easy task tonight – especially on their home court.