With last week’s loss to second-place UC Davis, the UCSB women’s basketball had their undefeated run in the Big West snapped. With three games left in the season, the Gauchos (18-7, 12-1 in the Big West) have a two-game lead over the Aggies (17-9, 11-3 Big West). The tight race means that the Gauchos need to win two of their last three in order to clinch the season title and #1 seed in the Big West Conference Tournament, which takes them into a heated match-up this Saturday at UC Riverside (13-12, 10-3 Big West).
Earlier in the year, the Gauchos faced the Highlanders in the biggest game of the first half of the Big West season, and Santa Barbara came away with the 73-61 win. UCSB had previously lost the last five meetings between the teams, and Saturday offers the chance for the first conference sweep of Riverside since the 2004-05 season.
The Gauchos have been solid on both ends of the floor, but the true mark of their success has been their offensive production, which is best in the Big West with a 68.8 point scoring average. Last week’s game against Davis was the first game in nine that Santa Barbara trailed at the half, and the team is now 2-7 in those games. However, the team is 16-0 when heading to the intermission with a lead. Its output of 56 points against UCD was also one of the team’s lowest of the season, and it is only 1-5 when held under 60 points. Despite the off games, the team’s offense is still the class of the Big West, and on top of having the highest scoring output, the Gauchos average the most assists in the league at 15 per game and have the best rebounding margin at +5.8, which is 37th best in the country.
Tip-off for Saturday’s game is scheduled for 5 p.m. at UC Riverside.