After a disappointing road match, which saw the UCSB women’s basketball team lose their first game against current conference members since 2003, the Gauchos (6-7 overall, 2-1 in the Big West) head to Irvine with hopes of getting back on track.
Saturday’s loss to Long Beach was the first loss in 29 contests between the Gauchos and 49ers (8-5, 1-0 Big West) and the first time in 46 games that a current Big West team has defeated the Gauchos. The 58-52 loss also ended a five-game winning streak that Santa Barbara had built while playing in the friendly surroundings of the Thunderdome, and dropped the team below .500 in its overall record and to third place in the Big West Conference, behind Cal Poly (8-4 overall, 3-0 Big West) and Long Beach.
The Anteaters (2-11 overall, 0-1 Big West) hope to mimic Long Beach and end their losing streak against Santa Barbara. The Gauchos have won the last nine meetings between the two teams.
Junior guard Angie Ned, who averages 11.8 points per game, leads the Anteaters. Santa Barbara’s backcourt will need to limit her production to keep Irvine in a manageable situation. Likewise, sophomore center Jenna Green – the Gauchos’ leading scorer at 15.4 points per game – will need to continue her strong play against a soft Irvine frontline.
Santa Barbara will also look for a strong performance from their backcourt. Sophomore guard Jessica Wilson played well during Santa Barbara’s winning streak and will look to rebound from a poor shooting game in the Long Beach match, when she shot 2-10 from the floor. Junior guard and veteran leader on the team Erin O’Bryan will also look to improve on her 3-11 performance in Saturday’s loss.
A victory in Bren Events Center on Monday would bring Santa Barbara their first road win of the 2005-06 campaign, along with a chance to move up the standings towards the top of the Big West Conference, where they have been predicted to finish.