After winning seven of their last eight, the UCSB women’s basketball team will be looking for its momentum to help it defeat #8 Stanford tonight.
This is the fourth game of the season for the Gauchos (11-9 overall, 5-2 in the Big West) against a ranked team, and they are still looking for their first win against a Top 25 team. After winning by its largest margin of the year in Saturday’s 89-55 routing of Pacific (7-14, 1-6 Big West), UCSB has proven that it can play solid ball on both ends of the court. The question now is whether or not the team can bring the same game against the Cardinal.
“We need to have a good balance, and I hope that we can keep playing the way we have been,” Head Coach Mark French said. “I do think that our team will be playing their best when faced with this competition.”
The Gauchos stepped it up for the game against Pacific with one of their best nights of the year. UCSB responded to being shut down in the paint early by going absolutely berserk from beyond the arc. They shot 14-18 on the night, and the 14 three pointers and 77.8 percent shooting were both school records. Overall, the Gauchos shot a season-high 58.5 percent from the field, and their 89 points is their highest mark in over a year. They were also moving the ball well, with a season-high 22 assists on their 31 dropped shots.
“My biggest advice to the team is to continue to be aggressive and to shoot the ball when we’re open,” French said. “It’s hard for us to know that when we have a weapon like Jenna Green that we don’t have to force it in to her. The only way to get the inside to open is to shoot the ball well on the outside.”
A red-hot Gaucho offense is going to be needed to counter Pac-10 powerhouse Stanford (18-3). First in the Pac-10 with an 11-0 league record, the tale is in the numbers for a Cardinal team that is averaging 72.8 points and 42.7 rebounds per game, while holding opponents to just 58 points and 35.7 rebounds per game.
The Gauchos are currently being led by junior center Jenna Green, who is averaging 15.5 points and 7.5 rebounds per game despite fighting constant double teams this season. Green has been undeniably consistent, leading all Gaucho scorers in 11 games this year and posting double digits in all but two games.
Besides Green, arguably the most explosive Gaucho as of late is junior guard Chisa Ononiwu. Ononiwu has scored in double digits in the last seven games, including a show-stopping 29 Saturday afternoon. In the performance against Pacific, Ononiwu notched career bests in every shooting category, and knocked down a ridiculous 6-8 from beyond the arc. Ononiwu is currently fifth on the Santa Barbara squad averaging 13.3 points a game and leads the team with 50 percent three-point shooting.
Sitting second on the UCSB scoring list is junior guard Jessica Wilson, who is dropping 13.4 points per game. She has also had five or more rebounds in the last nine games and is second on the team with a 5.8 rebounds per game average. She has contributed heavily to both the Gaucho offense, with her Big West-leading 4.42 assists per game average, and the defense, with two steals a night.
The Gauchos begin their final week of non-conference play tonight with tip-off scheduled for 7 p.m. in the Thunderdome.