Gauchos Return to Thunderdome, Host San Diego State Friday

Akilah Jennings (Photo by Eric Isaacs)
Akilah Jennings (Photo by Eric Isaacs)

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The Schedule
Friday, Dec. 22, 2017 at 7:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara (1-9) vs. San Diego State (6-4)
The Thunderdome - Santa Barbara, Calif.  
All-Time Record vs. the Aztecs: 12-22
Last Meeting: Dec. 11, 2016 - SDSU def. UCSB, 84-70
Video / Audio / Live Stats

Last Week in Review
After nearly a two week break from action, the UC Santa Barbara women's basketball team returned to the hardwood and dropped games at No. 17 Oregon State, 74-49, and at LMU, 67-61. Facing its second straight Top-25 ranked, Pac-12 opponent on the road, after facing No. 7 UCLA, UCSB struggled from the field and fell behind early to the Beavers. Despite shooting 33.3 percent (22-for-66), the Gauchos gave a strong effort in the second half, and were outscored by just two points, 33-31. Additionally, UCSB was strong on the offensive glass, pulling down a season-high 17 rebounds. Tal Sahar led the Gauchos with 11 points and seven rebounds. 

Due to the Thomas Fire, an originally scheduled home game for UCSB turned into an away contest at LMU where the Gauchos came up short. UCSB took a quick 8-2 lead before LMU used a 9-0 spurt to regain the lead and led the rest of the game. The Gauchos cut the deficit to four points with four minutes to go, but both teams went cold, combining to go 0-for-10 from the field the rest of the way. Drew Edelman led all scorers with 21 points, her first 20-point performance since she scored 23 points against Santa Clara in the second game of the year. 

Home Sweet 'Dome
The Gauchos will make a much needed return to the Thunderdome, its first in December, after last playing at home on Nov. 30 against Fresno State. Despite its 0-3 home record this season, UCSB is holding opponents to seven fewer points per game at home and is 16-11 at the Thunderdome the past two years under Coach Henrickson. 

Aztec History
UCSB hosts San Diego State (6-4) on Friday night and trails the all-time series 12-22 while the Aztecs are currently riding a four-game winning streak against the Gauchos. Last season, SDSU topped UCSB 84-70 at Viejas Arena after shooting a blistering 51 percent to go with 10 three-pointers compared to UCSB's 38 percent. The Aztecs had four players in double-figures that game, three of which are still on the team, led by McKynzie Fort who is averaging 16.4 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. Naje Murray is also averaging double figures at 10 points per game. UCSB last topped San Diego State in 1999.

Breakout Performance
Redshirt sophomore Tal Sahar had her breakout performance in a UCSB uniform, setting season-highs in points (11), rebounds (7), field goals made (5), field goals attempted (17) and three-pointers attempted (9) against No. 17 Oregon State on Saturday. The Tarzana, Calif. native played a season-best 20 minutes and showed off her shooting ability to lead UCSB in scoring and rebounding in the game. 

Pick Pocket
Senior forward Chaya Durr set a career-high with six steals against Loyola Marymount on Monday night. The senior captain played a large role in forcing 19 turnovers from LMU and keeping UCSB in the game until the end. Her previous career-best was five steals, which came against Washington State as a freshman.  

On the Road Again
After UCSB plays its first home game in three weeks on Friday, the Gauchos will head back out on the road to face New Mexico State on Friday, Dec. 29. After returning home to begin Big West action on Jan. 4 and Jan. 6 against Long Beach and Cal Poly, respectively, UCSB plays four of its next five on the road, making 12 of its first 19 games, road games. Overall, the Gauchos will play 16 road contests and 12 at home. 

Slow Start, No Problem
After opening the season with a 96-93 win over Northern Arizona, the Gauchos have lost nine in-a-row for its second 1-9 start in the past three seasons. In Coach Bonnie Henrickson's first year at the helm (2015-16), the Gauchos started 1-11 before winning six of their next seven games while going 11-9 the rest of the way to finish 12-20. Last year, UCSB started 2-7 before going 14-9 the rest of the way to finish 16-16 and advance to the Big West Tournament Championship game.  

Bombs Away
UCSB has made 79 three-pointers in 10 games to rank 54th in the nation with an average of 7.9 three-pointers made per game. The Gauchos have hit on 32.9 percent (79-for-240), although have seen their percentage decline, after shooting just 24.6 percent (18-for-73) in the last three games.  Sarah Porter and Aliceah Hernandez rank No. 1 and No. 2 in the Big West with an average of 2.1 and 2.0 three-pointers made per game, respectively. The top three threats from downtown are Porter (21-for-67), Hernandez (18-for-41) and Sarah Bates (15-for-40). 

Miller in Control
Freshman point guard Danae Miller went toe-to-toe with All-American and reigning Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year Jordin Canada from UCLA and showcased her ball control throughout. Despite intense pressure from the Bruins defense, Miller turned the ball over only two times, her second lowest total this season, in 28 minutes of action. Against No. 17 Oregon State and a formidable LMU squad, Miller continued her top notch ball control with just two turnovers apiece in each game. 

Nothing Comes Easy
UCSB's opponents this season have a combined 50-40 record (.556 win percentage), while its last three have a combined 24-7 record. The Gauchos strength of schedule thus far ranks 97th in the NCAA out of 349 teams. The final two non-conference opponents for the Gauchos have a 10-10 combined record as SDSU is 6-4 and New Mexico State is 4-6. 

By the Numbers
The Gauchos are currently averaging 61.2 points per game, shooting 38.2 percent (224-for-586) from the floor, 32.9 percent (79-for-240) from downtown and 68.5 percent (85-for-124) from the free-throw line. UCSB's opponents, meanwhile, are averaging 74.4 points per game while shooting 47.0 percent (283-for-602) from the field. 

Same Old Drew
All-Big West selection from a year ago and team captain Drew Edelman has picked up where she left off with a handful of big performances to start the 2017-18 campaign. The redshirt senior leads the Gauchos with a 14.7 ppg average after opening the year with 24 and 23 point performances against NAU and Santa Clara, respectively. In the home opener against Seattle, Edelman went for 16 points while pulling down a career-high 19 rebounds and now leads the team with 7.8 boards per game. In the Gauchos' last game against LMU, Edelman tallied 21 points, topping the 20-point plateau for the first time since the second game of the year.