With bragging rights for the 101 on the line, the UCSB women’s basketball team will look to use its recent momentum to knock down Central Coast rival Cal Poly tomorrow afternoon.
The game should prove to be exciting, as both teams are currently barreled in a wave of momentum. The Gauchos (14-10 overall, 7-2 in the Big West) have won 10 of their last 12, and have won the last eight against Big West opponents, including handing the Mustangs (10-12, 5-4 Big West) their last loss. Since the 68-62 loss on Jan. 20, Cal Poly has won its last five games.
“We like being at home, we’re excited to be at home,” Head Coach Mark French said. “Sounds like it should be a good game with two teams that are hot right now.”
With a road sweep last week against UC Irvine and Long Beach State, the Gaucho offense has continued to be excellent in 2007. They shot the lights out against both opponents, hitting 49.2 percent against the Anteaters (6-17, 3-6 Big West) and 48.3 percent against the 49ers (5-20, 2-9 Big West). During their current 10-2 run that started Dec. 30, the Gauchos have shot above 40 percent 10 times and above 45 percent seven times. The key to the Santa Barbara offense is good ball movement and team scoring, and in both of last week’s games the Gauchos had four players scoring in double digits. UCSB is 10-2 on the season when they have four or more players scoring more than 10 points.
The question for the Gauchos is not whether or not they are capable of scoring, it is whether or not they bring their best game to the court. Santa Barbara has been averaging 76 points per game in the last 12, much higher than their 69 points per game season average. French said the team needs to be high-powered for a full 40 minutes.
“The focus this week has really been on getting consistent, really high quality effort every second out on the court,” French said. “Against Long Beach State, I felt like we had 30 quality minutes, but we need 40.”
In the last meeting between Santa Barbara and Cal Poly, the Gauchos came back from a 12-point deficit in the second half to win by six. While the Gauchos may originally have been surprised by Cal Poly, who is sitting firmly in fifth-place in the Big West even after its five straight wins, it is doubtful that UCSB will take a game this late in the season lightly. With only a few weeks of play before the Big West tournament, every last game is crucial as it gets down to crunch time for the Gauchos.
“Well hopefully it will motivate us to remember how they played last time. I think that we will be coming out much harder,” French said. “I would hope the sense of urgency about things we need to improve on would kick in, we don’t have a lot of time left.”
Tip-off for Saturday’s matchup is scheduled for 2 p.m. in the Thunderdome.