UCSB Travels to UNLV Lady Rebel Round-Up for Two Games

Paris Jones (Photo by Jeilo Gauna)
Paris Jones (Photo by Jeilo Gauna)
 
The Schedule
Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018 at 12:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara (0-4) at UNLV (0-3)
Cox Pavilion – Las Vegas, Nev.
All-Time Record vs. the Rebels: 9-28
Last Meeting: L, 58-52 @ UNLV (11/9/12)
Live Stats 
| Video
 
Sunday, Nov. 25 2018 at TBD
UCSB (0-4) vs. TBD (Dartmouth or Mid. Tennessee)
Cox Pavilion – Las Vegas, Nev.
All-Time Record vs. Dartmouth: 1-0
All-Time Record vs. Middle Tennessee: 0-0

Live Stats
 
LMU Recap
UC Santa Barbara enters this weekend's Lady Rebel Round-Up coming off a 70-57 home defeat to Loyola Marymount on Monday. After another slow start, the Gauchos would outscore the Lions 33-32 in the second half, led by Coco Miller (20 points) and Tal Sahar (15). Junior center Natalia Bruening also got back on track, scoring seven points on 3-of-6 shooting to go along with five rebounds and a career-high three blocks.
 
UNLV Lady Rebel Round-Up
The Gauchos (0-4) will open the Thanksgiving weekend tournament against another winless team in the host UNLV Rebels (0-3). This will be UCSB's only video streamed game of the weekend. The Rebels are the first opponent UCSB has faced this season that enters the game with something other than a zero in the loss column. UNLV – which owns a 28-9 edge in the all-time series – has already played against one Big West team so far, falling 57-55 at UC Irvine on Nov. 13. A win would place the Gauchos in the championship game against either Dartmouth or Middle Tennessee.

Coco Is Back
After missing all of last season due to injury, redshirt junior guard Coco Miller has started to find her rhythm four games into the season, currently leading the Gauchos in points (11.8), assists (2.8), steals (2.0) and minutes (35.5). Despite facing tough full-court pressure for much of the game against LMU, Miller tirelessly assumed lead playmaking and ball-handling duties en route to game-highs of 20 points, five assists and 39 minutes played. She also had her most efficient shooting night of the year, going 8-of-15 (.533) overall and 2-of-6 (.333) from three-point range, seeing her record the fifth 20-point game of her career. She has hit a three in six straight games and 116 times in her career, good for 7th in program history.

Sahar Finds Her Shot
It wasn't a great start to the year for redshirt junior guard Tal Sahar, who made just 3-of-27 shots through her first three games. Her cold shooting woes would take a hiatus against the Lions though, as she went for a season-high 15 points (5-10 FG) off the bench, her third-highest scoring total in a Gaucho uniform. Sahar connected on 4-of-7 from three-point range, doing most of her damage in the second half as UCSB cut what was a 21-point deficit to eight points.
 
Nat In The Middle
Serving as the new focal point of the Gauchos' halfcourt offense, Natalia Bruening got out to a fantastic start to her junior season, averaging 15.5 points, 13.5 rebounds and a 57.1 FG% through the first two games. In her third and fourth career starts, Bruening notched her first two career double-doubles, while setting career-highs with 20 points against Utah Valley and 16 rebounds versus Bakersfield. However, she was slowed down by stingier inside defenses in week two, being shut out by USC on three shot attempts and scoring seven points on an efficient 3-for-6 shooting mark against LMU. She has connected on exactly half of her shots this year, currently tied for eighth in the conference in field goal percentage.
 
Bench Mob
Head coach Bonnie Henrickson's bench got out to a slow start, going scoreless in the Gauchos' season-opener for the first time since she took over the team in 2015-16. However, the bench has increased its scoring output with each game, setting a new season-high with 30 of UCSB's 57 points against LMU. Freshman Kiana Vierra has provided some good minutes, hitting five threes over her last three outings and averaging 4.3 points per game for the season. Forward Megan Ormiston, another freshman, has also played well in short spurts. She had a career-high seven points (3-5 FG) against LMU, and is shooting a team-high 71.4 FG% this year.
 
The Charity Stripe
While UCSB has struggled with its shot this season (31.6 FG%), the Gauchos have helped themselves by getting to the free throw line often. Against Cal State Bakersfield, they knocked down 23-of-31 (74.2%) from the stripe, tying for the most made free throws during the Henrickson era. They went 14-for-16 in the second half, helping cut a 21-point deficit to just two points in the final minutes. UCSB currently sits second in the Big West in free throws with 10.75 per game.

A Tale of Two Halves
Slow starts have plagued Santa Barbara so far, as the Gauchos have scored in single digits in three of four first quarters. Interestingly, UCSB has been at its best facing large second-half deficits, especially at home. The Gauchos are averaging 27.5 points in the second half as opposed to 22.0 points in the first half, but that disparity grows to 33.5 second half and 19 first half points at the Thunderdome.

Re-Bolstered Backcourt
Bruening is the only current starter to have started a game for the Gauchos last season, when she filled in for an injured Drew Edelman in a game against Fresno State. She is also the only non-guard, as Bri Anugwom, Paris Jones, Coco Miller and Tal Sahar round out the current starting lineup. Anugwom had the best start of any Gaucho aside from Bruening, able to penetrate through the lane with force and finish at the rim. In her first career game at the D-I level, the former West LA CC guard poured in 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting at UVU. She currently ranks second on the team with 9.5 ppg.
 
New Talent
The 2018-19 Gauchos feature an overhauled roster with seven new faces, including four freshmen: forward Megan Ormiston (Murrieta, Calif./Murrieta Valley HS) and guards DeLauna Thomas (Gardena, Calif./Serra HS), Lauren Lee (River Forest, Ill./Trinity HS) and Kiana Vierra (Honolulu, Hawaii/Kamehameha-Kapalama School). Redshirt senior guard Paris Jones also joins the team after four seasons at LIU Brooklyn, where she averaged 4.4 points and 1.1 assists in 62 games. Sophomore Bri Anugwom will get her first taste of Division I basketball after a freshman year at West Los Angeles CC where she averaged 20.2 points, 9.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists while shooting 46.8 percent from the field. Rounding out the newcomers is junior guard/forward Celeste Salazar, who comes to UCSB after averaging 6.0 points and 4.2 rebounds last season at Ventura College.
 
Addition to the Staff
Henrickson's coaching staff remains mostly intact from last season, along with the addition of new assistant coach Nneka Enemkpali. The former Texas Longhorn was drafted in the third round (26th overall) of the 2015 WNBA Draft by the Seattle Storm, and later signed a seven-day contract with the Minnesota Lynx. She most recently served two years on the staff at Gonzaga, where she was the video coordinator for a Bulldogs team that had two NCAA Tournament appearances, two West Coast Conference (WCC) championships, and a 53-13 record.