UCSB Tips Off Regular Season at NAU

Chaya Durr (Photo by Eric Isaacs)
Chaya Durr (Photo by Eric Isaacs)

Full Release in PDF Format

The Schedule
Friday, Nov. 10, 2017 at 6:30 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara at Northern Arizona
at J. Lawrence Walkup Skydome – Flagstaff, Ariz.
All-Time Record vs. the Lumberjacks: 2-3
Last Meeting: Nov. 20, 2016 – UCSB def. NAU, 60-51
Live Audio / Live Stats / Video

Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017 at 7:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara at Santa Clara
at Leavey Center - Santa Clara, Calif.
All-Time Record vs. the Broncos: 6-6
Last Meeting: Nov. 30, 2016 - SCU def. UCSB, 69-58
Live Audio / Live Stats / Video

Last Week in Review
The UC Santa Barbara women's basketball team impressed in a 78-63 exhibition victory over Cal State East Bay on Saturday at the Thunderdome. After taking an early 13-12 lead, the Gauchos went on a 22-0 run, holding the Pioneers scoreless for over seven minutes, to take a commanding 35-12 advantage. UCSB held on to its big lead throughout the game to cruise to the win. The Gauchos shot 45.2 percent (28-for-62) on the evening while going 10-for-27 (37 percent) from three-point land and assisting on 21 of their 28 made field goals. 

Despite being hampered by injuries to start the year, the new look Gauchos gelled together on the court and a handful of newcomers had strong debuts. The freshman trio of Danae Miller, Sarah Bates and Nina Radford found themselves in the starting lineup while transfers Akilah Jennings and Tal Sahar also made their debuts. Sahar, who sat out last season due to NCAA Transfer rules, led the team in scoring with 14 points after going 4-for-9 from three-point territory. Jennings was right on her heels with 13 points and senior veteran Makala Roper tallied 12. Bates had an impressive all-around performance with eight points, seven assists and six rebounds while Miller tallied six points and five assists and Radford tallied seven points in her debut. 

Lumberjack Matchup
UCSB officially begins the season on Friday against Northern Arizona. This will be the six ever meeting between UCSB and NAU, with the Gauchos having topped the Lumberjacks last year 60-51. Drew Edelman poured in 20 points in last year's meeting while Sarah Porter notched 11 with three, three-pointers. 

Season Openers
Under head coach Bonnie Henrickson, UCSB is 0-2 in its season openers after playing in challenging road games at Iowa State and Washington State the past two years. The 2017-18 season marks the fourth straight year the Gauchos will start the season on the road. Since the 1999-00 season, UCSB is 9-9 in season openers, but just 1-7 since 2009. 

Aye Aye, Captain!
Chaya Durr, Drew Edelman, Coco Miller, Makala Roper and Sarah Porter were all voted as team captains for the upcoming season. The group represents every returning upperclassmen for a UCSB team that has significantly improved over the past two seasons. 

Trending Up
UCSB has increased its win total in each of the past three seasons, including the first two years with Henrickson at the helm. After notching 12 wins in her debut season, which was more wins than the previous two seasons combined, Henrickson led the Gauchos to a 16-16 record and a fourth-place finish in the Big West, its best since 2012-13.

Big West Preseason Poll
Announced last week by the conference, UCSB was selected in both the media and coaches poll to finish third, behind only last season's regular season champion UC Davis and CSUN. The Aggies collected the majority of first place votes in both polls while the Matadors were a close second. The Gauchos were slotted third and followed by Hawaii, somewhat of a distant fourth place. Drew Edelman landed on both versions of the five-women Preseason All-Conference Team.

Key Returners
UCSB returns four of its five starters from last season, including leading scorer and rebounder Drew Edelman. After transferring from USC, Edelman had a standout debut season for the Gauchos, earning Second Team All-Big West while leading UCSB with 11.7 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. Also returning will be junior guard Sarah Porter, who averaged 10.2 points per game while leading the team with 76 three-pointers, and Coco Miller, who averaged 9.1 points per game and was second on the team with 58 threes. Honorable Mention Big West selection Drea Toler (10.2 ppg) also returns, but will have to wait until December to join the team.

Incoming Talent
After sitting out last season due to NCAA Transfer rules, Tal Sahar will make her much anticipated UCSB debut. Sahar, a transfer from Seattle, averaged 10.2 points per game while shooting an impressive 38.2 percent from downtown for the Redhawks. Foothill College junior transfer Akilah Jennings will also look to make an immediate impact while five freshmen join the Gauchos in 2017-18. Danae Miller (Long Beach, Calif./Long Beach Poly HS) and Celine Quintino (Henderson, Nev./Liberty HS) will factor in at the point guard position. Sarah Bates (Fresno, Calif./Clovis West HS) is also a guard while Nina Radford (Portland, Ore./Grant HS) and Mira Shulman (Elk Grove, Calif./Elk Grove HS) can play both the guard and forward positions.

It's Raining Threes, Hallelujah!
Just as the Gauchos' win total has increased in each of the past three seasons, so has their three-point field goal attempts, makes and percentage. After going just 76-for-307 (24.8 percent) in 2014-15, UCSB has upped its three-point prowess under Henrickson. In 2015-16, UCSB doubled its output from the year prior, going 162-for-544 (29.8 percent) before shooting 231-for-676 (34.2 percent) last year. That percentage is good for ninth all-time in UCSB program history while Sarah Porter now ranks second all-time with a 41.1 career percentage from beyond the arc.

The Road Ahead
UCSB will have a challenging upcoming schedule with four of its first five games on the road. After opening at NAU next Friday, the Gauchos head to Santa Clara that following Tuesday and the next week they are at the St. Mary's Tournament. Sandwiched between those two road trips is the first regular season home game of the year against Seattle on Nov. 17. Other key non-conference games include games at UCLA (Dec. 3), Oregon State (Dec. 16) and New Mexico St. (Dec. 29) while UCSB will welcome San Diego State to the Thunderdome on Dec. 22.

New Coaches
Joining Henrickson's coaching staff this year is associate head coach Alex Delanian and assistant coach Eliza Pierre. Delanian was most recently the associate head coach at Hawaii while Pierre comes from Cal where she was the assistant director of basketball operations before being promoted to interim assistant coach. Pierre and Delanian join assistant coach Nate Fripp who enters his third season with Henrickson and director of basketball operations Ashlee Klingenberg, who begins her second season.

2016-17 Season in Review
Last season, UCSB went 16-16 overall marking the first time since the 2011-12 season that the Gauchos posted a .500 record. With a 9-7 record in the Big West, UCSB tied for fourth place, its best conference finish since 2012-13 when it also finished fourth. The highlight of the season came on an impressive run through the Big West Tournament, upsetting top-seeded UC Davis in the semifinals before falling in heartbreaking fashion by just one-point to Long Beach State in the championship. With nine returners and six incomers, UCSB will look to keep climbing the ladder in the conference in 2017-18.