With a win streak against Cal State Northridge that’s old enough to celebrate properly, the UCSB women’s basketball team will look to bull rush the Matadors (8-10 overall, 4-1 in the Big West) tonight.
With the last loss to CSUN coming all the way back in 1984, and with the Gauchos (10-8, 4-1 Big West) in the middle of a six-game winning streak, it’s easy to assume the Gauchos will walk away with this one. However, Head Coach Mark French was coaching in the last loss, and he said that the 22-year run doesn’t matter a whole lot in college hoops.
“Many of our players right now weren’t even born [in the last loss to CSUN], and I don’t think that is has too much of a bearing on [tonight’s] game,” French said.
Without a loss in 2007, the Gauchos certainly have a lot of momentum on their side. French said that the key to continued success is for the team to keep working and improving throughout the season.
“Even though we’ve been winning, we need to keep improving,” French said. “There are specific areas that we have been working on the make the team better. Rebounding has been a really big one for us. I believe Northridge is a really good offensive rebounding team, so we have been spending a lot of time practicing boxing out.”
Rebounding has been something that UCSB has been working and steadily improving on throughout the whole season. Something more easily overlooked while a team is winning is the turnover rate. During their current streak, the Gauchos are averaging 21.5 per game, higher than the season average of 18.7. UCSB’s highest turnover total of the season – a horrendous 31 – came in the first win of the current run.
“We’re working on taking care of the ball – even though we’ve been winning, our turnovers have been more than I would have liked,” French said. “We’ve been working on our passing and learning how to be aggressive without giving up the ball.”
The Gauchos will be facing one of the best Northridge teams that they have seen in recent years. The Matadors are currently tied with UCSB for second place in the Big West with a 4-1 record, and have given first-place UC Riverside (12-7, 6-1 Big West), their only loss of the season. With big wins under their belts, the Matadors shouldn’t be intimidated by their history while playing in the Thunderdome.
“I think [Northridge is] very excited to play us because they know we will have to play well to win,” French said. “We know that Northridge has done something that we haven’t been able to do, and that’s beat Riverside.”
With Northridge just a start to a four-game home stretch, French said he is looking forward to playing in front of a home crowd and getting back to Big West play. By facing some of the league’s best, the Gauchos will be able to get a true measure of how well they are playing.
“I’ll have a better handle on how our team is team is doing after playing the better Big West teams,” French said. “This will be a good gauge for us to play Northridge.”
Tip-off for tonight’s game is schedule for 7 p.m. in the Thunderdome.