When the final buzzer blares this Saturday night, the Thunderdome will lose just a little bit of its thunder.
Senior forwards Kristen Mann, Brandy Richardson, Kate Bauman and senior guard Mia Fisher will bid farewell this Saturday to the court they have called home at UCSB.
“I’d say versatility [is our greatest strength],” Mann said. “With Fisher’s handles and her ability to drive to the basket, Brandy [being] so big and strong and Kate posting up, I’d think that’s basically what we stand for: versatility.”
One game shy of leading their team to a 10th-straight league title (one victory or a Long Beach loss will give them at least a share of the title), this Gaucho senior class has quite a lot to boast about.
Besides playing key roles in the team’s Sweet 16 run last season, these seniors currently hold a 4-3 record in NCAA tournament play. No senior class in the history of UCSB basketball has ever finished with a winning record in the NCAA tournament.
“This senior class has a chance to do something that no other senior class has ever done,” Head Coach Mark French said. “We’ve had some very prestigious senior classes here that have never had a winning record; I think that [alone] speaks volumes [about this senior class].”
Mann currently averages 20 points per game, which puts her on pace to have the highest season scoring average of any Gaucho in history. Even more impressive is the fact that Mann is not a one-dimensional player; she has posted 27 double-doubles in her career.
With her speed, hops and cheerful persona, “Mama” Mia Fisher has become a fan favorite this season. But it is her offensive production and efficiency that make her career at UCSB extraordinary; she currently holds the highest shooting percentage of any guard in history wearing Gaucho colors.
“Mia will be the first African-American woman to play four years for us and graduate; she is a spectacular offensive player and probably one of the most gifted kids in the open court,” French said. “Kristen has been a great leader this year [as the lone captain of the team], and she is destined for greatness well beyond her college days.”
Although recently injured, the hard-nosed defensive terror Brandy Richardson vows to return this season as last year’s Big West Defensive Player of the Year and the fifth leading rebounder in Santa Barbara history.
“Brandy is one of the legendary defensive players in our program; if people ask me who are the top defensive players, Brandy will always [warrant mention] even though her scoring statistics have never been spectacular,” French said.
Finally, standing 6’6″ and hailing from Minnesota, Bauman has also battled through injury this season to score a point for every 2.19 minutes she stands on the court.
Tonight, the seniors will step into the Thunderdome at 7 p.m. for the second-to-last time of their careers to face Irvine (6-19 overall, 5-11 in the Big West), the latest team to topple the Gauchos’ (17-8 overall, 14-2 in the Big West) nemesis Idaho. Senior night is this Saturday at 7 p.m. against Long Beach (19-6 overall, 13-3 Big West), who will likely challenge UCSB for a share in the Big West title.