UCSB women’s basketball gets a rare break from Big West play tonight, as the Portland State Vikings are coming to town for Santa Barbara’s second to last nonconference game of the season.
The Gauchos (8-6,4-0 Big West) are currently firing on all cylinders. The team is riding high on a five- game winning streak, and is just about unstoppable at home. UCSB is 6-1 in the Thunderdome (8-1 if you count exhibition games) and the one loss came by a grand total of two points.
However, the Gauchos will face a tall task in Portland State. The Vikings boast a better overall record (11-5) than Santa Barbara and have won six of their last seven. Furthermore, Portland State blew UCSB away last year when the two squads faced off, earning an easy 73-58 win.
The Vikings are led by senior Kelsey Kahle, who is averaging a scorching 16.7 points per game. Kahle is just 32 points away from breaking the all-time Portland State scoring record, but will have a tough time doing it against UCSB’s tenacious defense.
Santa Barbara’s recent success has come mostly at the hands of that stingy defense, which held both UC Irvine and Cal State Fullerton to under 30% shooting in last week’s matches. UCSB has even held four of its 14 opponents this year to below 40 points.
Senior forward Jenna Green has a whopping 26 blocks on the year, which easily leads the team. She also has 10 assists, which is good for second on the team.
Senior guard Lauren Pedersen has a ridiculous 41 steals on the season, which accounts for nearly half of the Gauchos’ impressive 99.
Then again, the Gauchos have some stars on offense as well.
Featuring for UCSB is Pedersen, who is the team leader in points, assists, and rebounds per game — but she is far from the only weapon in Head Coach Lindsay Gottlieb’s arsenal.
Seniors Whitney Warren and Jenna Green are averaging 7.2 and 8.8 points per game, respectively, and recently returned senior point guard Sha’Rae Gibbons has averaged 8.5 since her return. If UCSB can maintaim offensive consistency, it will be tough to beat.
Tipoff is slated for tonight at 7p.m. in the Thunderdome.