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Under the Scope: 2018-19 Women’s Basketball Big West Preview

Under the Scope: 2018-19 Women’s Basketball Big West Preview

Angie Banks/Every day Nexus

Anytime the UCSB ladies’s basketball group takes on Cal Poly, the stakes are already excessive. And with the Gauchos trying to safe their first win in Big West play the tensions can be even larger.

When the two struggling sides meet up on Saturday in San Luis Obispo–each determined for his or her first convention victory–the stakes shall be even larger.

Regardless of Santa Barbara getting into the recreation with a Three-11 document, the staff has begun to point out main indicators of enchancment in current weeks.

After knocking off San Diego State in December, the Gauchos have dropped each of their final matchups by merely single digits, together with a valiant 73-65 defeat in the Big West opener towards CSUN. That recreation particularly displayed the progress of the younger Gauchos aspect, with the workforce retaining the recreation shut all through regardless of junior Coco Miller–the workforce’s main scorer–capturing solely 2-17 from the flooring.

Santa Barbara’s offense–the largest offender for the staff’s sluggish begin–has seen an uptick since sophomore guard Danae Miller got here again from damage. Danae’s 4 assists per recreation leads the group, and her velocity has allowed the Gauchos to play extra in transition, resulting in simpler baskets.

Of their final recreation towards CSUN, Head Coach Bonnie Henrickson opted to tighten up the rotation, enjoying each Danae Miller and Coco Miller for nearly the whole recreation. Whereas the Gauchos scored 73 factors in that recreation, the bench contributed solely 11 of these factors–with all 11 coming from junior ahead Tal Sahar. As convention play continues and fatigue turns into extra of an element, Henrickson will want larger manufacturing from her bench if the Gauchos hope to remain aggressive.

Just one recreation into convention play, it’s dangerous to name any recreation a must-win matchup. Nonetheless, for 2 groups which have struggled mightily all through the season, a win on Saturday will assist drastically in getting their season again on monitor. Given each groups’ offensive struggles and defensive prowess, anticipate a low-scoring affair on Saturday the place 60 factors could also be all that’s wanted to safe the win.

Cal Poly (Zero-1, Three-9)

The Cal Poly ladies’s basketball staff enters Saturday’s match simply as determined for a victory as another Big West workforce after getting thumped at house by UC Irvine of their convention opener, 75-59.

On the season, Cal Poly is available in with a Three-9 report, with solely two of these victories over division I opponents.

Equally to the Gauchos, the Achilles heel for Cal Poly all season has been their offense, with the staff scoring solely about 60 factors per recreation.

Lately, nevertheless, the Mustang’s offense has been barely stronger since the return of graduate switch Hana Vesela from damage.

In her three video games this season, Vesela has averaged virtually 11 factors per recreation. As she will get extra acclimated to the workforce’s offense, her offensive output ought to proceed to extend much more.

Saturday’s recreation will probably be a battle of two almost similar groups relating to play fashion. Each groups look to play inside out, that includes their huge on the inside to swallow up rebounds and end off straightforward layups.

For the Mustangs, sophomore middle Devin Stanback leads the workforce with 13.6 factors per recreation whereas capturing a powerful 51 % from the flooring. For Santa Barbara, junior middle Natalia Bruening has primarily performed the similar position, scoring 10 factors per recreation whereas capturing 50 % from the flooring. Crucial to each workforce’s success on Saturday shall be their stud middle staying out of foul hassle–a problem that particularly has plagued Bruening all through the season.

Cal Poly additionally excels on the boards; regardless of their general struggles, they’ve persistently out-rebounded their opponents all through the season. For a Gauchos workforce that prefers to play with 4 guards, will probably be crucial for them to box-out and restrict any straightforward second probability alternatives for the Mustangs.

Lengthy Seashore State (Zero-Zero, Three-10)

Regardless of being picked to complete fourth in the Big West preseason ballot, Lengthy Seashore State struggled considerably in non-conference play. With each an anemic offense and an undersized core that has been dominated on the glass, LBS limps into convention play with a Three-10 report.

Led by sophomore guard Shanaijah Davison’s 14.Eight factors per recreation, Lengthy Seashore State averages fewer than 60 factors per recreation. Even Davison — a preseason All-Big West decide — has struggled together with her efficacy, capturing solely 37 % from the flooring regardless of taking virtually 15 photographs per recreation.

When Lengthy Seashore has been capable of hold it shut — with 5 of the workforce’s losses scoring in the single digits — the workforce has been sunk by its 59 free throw proportion.

Whereas Lengthy Seashore has performed with a comparatively strong protection — they at present maintain opponents to 43 % from the flooring — their Achilles heel all season has been their lack of rebounds. On common, Lengthy Seashore State has been outrebounded by 16 rebounds per recreation, permitting their opponents to have second-chance alternatives regardless of their strong preliminary protection.

Nonetheless, they may enter convention play with a little bit of momentum on their aspect after profitable their final two non-conference matchups, together with a 50-48 victory over Utah State of their final recreation.

Throughout that recreation, graduate switch ahead Cydnee Kinslow made her season debut after sitting out the first 12 video games injured, and instantly made her presence recognized by grabbing 9 rebounds in 37 minutes.

The addition of Kinslow ought to assist Lengthy Seashore play extra competitively.    Although Lengthy Seashore State has struggled most of the season, don’t be stunned if Davison cleans up her offensive effectivity and leads the staff to a .500 report in the convention.

UCI (1-Zero, 13-1)

The UC Irvine ladies’s basketball group was chosen to complete in third place by the Big West preseason ballot with solely sophomore ahead Jordan Sanders incomes a spot on the preseason All-Convention Group.

Now, 13 video games and one league match into the season, there isn’t any doubt that the Anteaters are the staff to beat so far into convention play.

Presently, UCI is at the prime of the Big West convention with a 1-Zero league document and, extra importantly, an 11-2 general mark.

Considered one of the Anteaters two losses got here towards a really robust Oregon workforce ranked No. 5 in the nation however the different got here towards a a lot weaker San Diego State staff that’s simply 5-Eight on the yr.

SDSU did beat two different Big West packages in Hawai’i and Cal State Fullerton however misplaced to UC Santa Barbara.

Regardless, UC Irvine is the solely staff in the league so far to have double digit wins and that’s largely to the efficiency of Sanders who’s averaging an astonishing 21.1 factors per recreation.

That isn’t simply the greatest mark on her workforce however the second greatest common in the Big West sitting simply behind UC Davis’ Morgan Bertsch.

Sanders additionally leads her workforce in rebounds per recreation with 5.5 boards per contest.

She additionally receives assist from fellow teammates Lauren Saiki and Andee Ritter who each common double figures in factors per contest.  

With three stud gamers on offense, UC Irvine hopes it might proceed its nice begin to the yr and probably earn a Big West title.

UC Irvine takes on CSUN on Saturday at 2 p.m.

CSUN (1-Zero, 7-Eight)

Cal State Northridge ladies’s basketball staff is presently 7-Eight on the yr and can look to get again to .500 as they performed their second recreation of the convention schedule.

It has been an up and down yr for the Matadors however they have been capable of decide up a win of their most up-to-date matchup towards UC Santa Barbara.

They’re led by senior middle Channon Fluker who’s averaging a double double on the yr with 16 factors and 11 rebounds. She additionally leads the workforce with the highest area aim proportion from the area with 48.Three %.

Considered one of the issues that the squad has confronted this yr is that they lack a constant second scorer behind Fluker. With nobody on the group averaging double figures in addition to Fluker, it has been troublesome at occasions for them to place up factors persistently. With them in the midst of convention play, will probably be essential for a second scorer to emerge with a purpose to hold opposing defenses from keying on Fluker in the paint.

On the flip aspect, CSUN has been very spectacular on the defensive finish of the flooring as they’ve held opponents to only 38 % from the area. A lot of that may be attributed to the constant ball strain which has led to opposing offenses struggling to seek out the backside of the internet.

To ensure that the Matadors to show their season round, they might want to discover extra methods to attain the basketball, which additionally signifies that they need to enhance their three level proportion. With extra constant from behind the three level line, it should assist hold defenses trustworthy which can result in simpler photographs for each participant.

CSUN is again in motion at UC Irvine the place they may look to select up their second win in convention play at 2 p.m.

Hawai’i (Zero-1, Four-10)

With Big West play in full impact, the Hawai’i ladies’s basketball workforce is about to bounce again following a troublesome league opener loss to Cal State Fullerton.

General, Hawai’i has struggled all yr lengthy boasting only a Four-10 general mark thus far in the season.

Moreover, the Rainbow Wahine are simply 1-Four away from their house courtroom.

Fortunately, they’ll return house for a fast two-game stretch with matches towards UC Davis and Cal State Northridge.

Only recently, Hawai’i had gained three straight video games with two coming towards well-known division I packages however it’s now losers of three straight. It’s final two losses have been by a mixed 5 factors.

Coming into convention play, the Rainbow Wahine have been hoping to show round this season and, regardless of a loss at the Cal State Fullerton, they nonetheless performed a fantastic recreation.

On Jan. 5, the Rainbow Wahine scored 68 factors which was their third highest level complete this season.

Hawai’i’s huge scorer in that recreation was redshirt sophomore ahead Amy Atwell who got here up large. She scored a profession excessive 25 factors in simply 16 minutes with 18 of these factors coming in the second half alone.

For the season, Atwell averages simply 4 factors a recreation, even after that terrific popping out social gathering. With an elevated position perhaps she could be a issue this staff wants to show it round.

For now, the Rainbow Wahine will hope to proceed counting on junior ahead Makenna Woodfolk who leads the group in factors per recreation with the solely participant in double figures at 11.Eight.

Sadly, in the final three video games she has averaged simply three factors per contest.

Hawai’i’ll host UC Davis on Saturday at 1 p.m.

CSUF (1-Zero, 9-5)

The Cal State Fullerton ladies come into Big West play in 2019 one yr faraway from ending final in the convention, lacking out on the Big West Event and dropping 12 out of their ultimate 13 video games.

Proper now, nevertheless, their season is shifting in a completely totally different trajectory, as they’re presently sporting a 9-5 document and have gained seven of their final eight contests —  together with a win over Hawaii of their convention opener.

The Titans have a roster that accommodates a mix of upperclassmen and underclassmen that present helpful contributions to the squad. 4 gamers are scoring in double figures on the season and that group is lead by redshirt senior Daeja Smith, whose averages of 13.Eight factors per recreation and 9.7 rebounds per recreation rank fifth and second in the Big West, respectively.

Along with Smith, certainly one of the keys to Fullerton’s early season success has been the playmaking potential of their backcourt duo.

Raina Perez and Jade Vega each common double-digit scoring numbers to go together with their averages of five-plus assists per recreation, every.

Perez and Vega rank second and third in the Big West in assists per recreation, giving Fullerton added versatility  as the two gamers are able to dealing with the ball and playmaking for others on the flooring. The power that Perez and Vega have to attain and help the ball enhances the inside scoring recreation of Daeja Smith and makes their staff as an entire extraordinarily troublesome to protect.

The Titans completed in final place a season in the past and have been but once more picked to complete final in line with the Big West preseason ballot, however with the improved play of their returning gamers and the addition of some elite newcomers, Fullerton will look to show the tables on the convention and present everybody that they could be a authentic pressure in the Big West.

UC Riverside (Zero-1, 6-9)

Convention play for ladies’s basketball is now in full impact, as the second fixture for UC Riverside’s Big West marketing campaign is about for this Thursday.

Coming off an in depth 59-67 defeat to UC Davis, for his or her first Big West confrontation, the UC Riverside Highlanders will look to enhance as the younger convention schedule begins to ramp up.

Thus far by way of the season, the Highlanders discover themselves at a 6-9 general document; sufficient for a .400 win proportion.

Indicators level upwards, nevertheless, as the staff evenly cut up their recreation schedule in the month of December, snagging a few street wins alongside the method.

Though, they’ll need to discover their rhythm as quickly as potential contemplating they dropped their first convention matchup of the new yr.

UC Riverside’s redshirt junior guard, Jannon Otto, leads all scorers on the staff with 195 factors to her identify thus far via the season; that’s a 13 level per recreation common. Playmaking appears to additionally run via her as she additionally leads her aspect in complete assists with 47.

Shut behind Otto, in scoring, is junior ahead Marina Ewodo.

That includes as the squad’s premier rim protector, Ewodo leads all her teammates in blocks, with 33, in addition to rebounds, with a complete of 107.

Collectively, these two are typically at the prime of opponents’ recreation plan as they play such an important half on the workforce this season.

When it comes to convention efficiency, UC Riverside completed as a center of the desk staff in Big West standings final yr; ending their marketing campaign with a 6-10 general report in convention play, ok for the sixth seed in the playoffs.

Nevertheless, they did carry out very properly throughout the postseason, making it so far as the semifinal stage; finally giving the No. 1 general seed, UC Davis, a nail biter of a recreation after falling simply brief by a last rating of 46-49.

So far as this younger yr goes, their Zero-1 begin locations them in sixth place as soon as once more.

Expectations are excessive nevertheless, as a greater league end can arrange yet one more shocking playoff run for the Highlanders.

Subsequent up on UC Riverside’s schedule is one other Big West bout, this time towards Lengthy Seashore State, who’s Three-10 on the yr.

This might be Lengthy Seashore State’s first Big West matchup, however the Highlanders ought to have a slight higher hand getting into this one.  

UC Riverside hosts Lengthy Seashore State this Thursday, January 10th, in the SRC Area at 7 p.m.

UC Davis (1-Zero, 9-5)

They’re the two-time defending common season Big West champs. They’ve misplaced simply 4 common season Big West video games in the final two years. They’ve obtained the fifth-leading scorer in the nation. They’ve gained six video games in a row.

The UC Davis ladies’s basketball staff is the staff to beat in the Big West. That’s been the case for a few years, and a sluggish Aggie begin isn’t sufficient to vary that this yr.

UCD, now 9-5 and 1-Zero in the Big West after beating UC Riverside, began this season Zero-Three. That mark included a blowout loss to then-no. 7 ranked Stanford and hard losses to Pacific and Portland State.

That begin appears to be in the previous now for head coach Jennifer Gross’s squad.

The eighth-year coach has guided her workforce and steadied the ship, even regardless of some key graduations from final yr’s group.

On the courtroom, the turnaround has largely relied on the again of Morgan Bertsch, a 6’ Four” senior ahead who’s fifth in the NCAA, is the main scorer in UC Davis program historical past.

As Bertsch goes, so does the Aggie’s offense. That hasn’t been an issue contemplating the senior’s manufacturing, nevertheless it provides opponents an apparent level to concentrate on.

Level guard Kourtney Eaton has been the lady in command of feeding Bertsch, a job the four-year starter and the program’s all-time help chief has carried out capably with 5.1 assists per recreation. Junior ahead Nina Bessolo works as Bertsch’s scoring complement with 9.Three factors and Four.1 rebounds per recreation whereas sophomore Cierra Corridor leads the group with 6.9 rebounds per recreation.

In comparison with the remainder of the Big West, the Aggies love the three-ball. UCD has put up 333 threes thus far this season, greater than some other rival faculty. Solely UCSB comes shut with 331, and the Gauchos’ 26.1 % mark from deep pales compared to UCD’s 32.Four %.

All that capturing and all these factors – the Aggies are second in the Big West in factors per recreation at 71.Four – hasn’t come at the expense of their protection. UCD has given up simply 62.5 factors per recreation, once more second in the convention, and are holding opponents to a Big West-worst 36.5 factors per recreation.

UC Davis is rolling on each ends of the courtroom proper now as they start to defend their crown once more. It’s arduous to guess towards them.

Big West Prediction: UC Davis (Onerous to guess towards the champs once they’ve acquired the greatest scorer and perhaps the greatest protection).