With the Big West Championships looming, the UCSB women’s basketball team couldn’t be carrying much more momentum. A string of wins 13-long that stretches all the way back to 2007 has the Gauchos on the verge of a season comparable to the vaunted team of 2001-02. And with 11 of those wins coming against the Big West, Santa Barbara has pushed to regain their place as the conference’s elite squad.
Tonight the Gauchos (17-6, 11-0 Big West) face visiting Pacific (11-14, 6-6 Big West), whom UCSB has owned in the lifetime series. Santa Barbara has defeated the Tigers in their last 11 meetings, and lead the all-time series 43-14. Pacific is just starting to come out of a few transition years with this .500 season; Head Coach Lynne Roberts, in her second year, has bounced back from last year’s dismal 2-12 Big West effort. The Tigers have managed to put up points this year, with their 69.1 scoring average second in the Big West. However, their defense has been less than stellar, and they give up 70.4 points a game, good for fifth in the league.
The Gauchos are coming off a pair of wins last week against CSU Bakersfield and Cal Poly. The Mustangs managed to push things to overtime, but Santa Barbara held on to win 74-72, which pushes the Gaucho mark in overtime games to 4-0 this season. Santa Barbara is also a perfect 15-0 on the season when leading at halftime.
UCSB has played solid ball on every portion of the court, and their rankings in the Big West stat categories prove it. Santa Barbara has the highest scoring offense in Big West play, and it leads the league in shooting percentage (45.0 percent), assists per game average (15.3), assist/turnover ratio (0.8) and offensive rebounding (14.64 per game). A huge chunk of the assists are coming from junior guard Lauren Pedersen, who dishes out 4.5 dimes per night.
On the defensive end, the Gauchos have pounded the boards, and with a +5 rebounding margin, the team leads the next closest competitor by five rebounds a game. The quick Santa Barbara defense has also nabbed 9 steals a game, and is holding opponents to under 39 percent shooting.
Tip-off for today’s game is scheduled for 7 p.m. in the Thunderdome.