Gauchos Host UC Irvine to Open Big West Play Sunday and Monday

Lauren Lee (Photo by Jeff Liang)
Lauren Lee (Photo by Jeff Liang)
• The Schedule
Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020 at 5:00 p.m. PT
UC Santa Barbara vs UC Irvine
The Thunderdome - Santa Barbara, Calif.
All-Time Record vs. the Anteaters: 68-33
Last Meeting: February 5, 2020: at UCSB 67, UC Irvine 57
TV: ESPN3 (Play-by-play: Gerry Fall, analyst: Louis Reynaud)
Monday, Dec. 28, 2020 at 5:00 p.m. PT
TV: ESPN3 (Play-by-play: Gerry Fall, analyst: Louis Reynaud)
• The Gaucho Review: Week Two
G3: Santa Clara 82, UCSB 60: Santa Clara's Ashlyn Herlihy led the Broncos with 20 points, while UCSB  redshirt senior guard Doris Jones had a team-high 16 points on a night in which the Gauchos had just seven active players available to play with redshirt senior guard Natalia Bruening missing her first game of the season due to injury.
G4: Santa Clara 73, UCSB 51: Doris Jones recorded her second double-double of the season with 14 points and 12 rebounds for the Gauchos in their loss to the Broncos. The contest was deadlocked throughout the first half, but an 11-0 and then a 15-0 run at two separate points in the second half led to a Santa Clara sweep in the Gauchos' final pre-Big West series.
• Scouting the Opposition: UC Irvine
The Anteaters come into Big West play with a 2-4 record and just one win against a Division I opponent this season. UCI has dropped games to California Baptist, LMU, Saint Mary's, and San Diego, while picking up victories at San Diego State and at home to Westmont, though the Warriors were able to take UC Irvine to overtime. Kayla Williams leads the team with 15 points per game, while Chloe Webb garners the most rebounds with 6.8 per contest.
• 2019-20 in Review
A challenging non-conference slate did well in preparing the Gauchos for Big West play, as they turned a 4-6 start into a 9-7 finish thanks to five wins in the final six games, including a sweep of CSUN and a Danae Miller buzzer-beater in the regular season finale at Hawai'i. Freshman Ila Lane, senior Coco Miller, and junior Danae Miller were the stars of the show in a season that would abruptly end without the Gauchos having played a game as the second seed in the Big West Tournament due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
• Respected Among Our Peers
If the Big West Coaches Poll released on Nov. 10 is anything to go by, UCSB will be a contender for the league crown in the 2020-21 season. The blue and gold was picked to finish third in the conference, finishing nine points back of second-placed UC Irvine and 22 behind four-time defending champions UC Davis. The Gauchos finished fourth in the media poll, behind Davis, Irvine, and Hawai'i. 
In terms of individual recognition, senior point guard Danae Miller added a selection to the Preseason Big West Women's Basketball All-Conference First Team to her ever-growing list of accolades, after earning selection to the All-Big West Honorable Mention list at the conclusion of the previous season and to the Second Team the year before that.
• ESPN3 is Coming to the Thunderdome
We may be a week away from December 25, but Christmas is coming early to the Thunderdome as UCSB Athletics, in conjunction with Fall Productions, will produce its first-ever ESPN3 broadcast on Saturday evening. In addition, each of the Gauchos' eight Big West Conference home games will be streamed on ESPN3, beginning with UCSB's back-to-back conference-opening series against UC Irvine on Dec. 27 and 28. UCSB's away matchups at UC San Diego and CSU Bakersfield will also be aired on ESPN3. The TV schedule is subject to change and updates will be communicated on
• The Class of 2020
Freshman guards Alyssa Marin and Anya Choice are the newest Gauchos on the block. Marin holds the record for most three-pointers made in a single season at Camarillo High and was named Camarillo Girls Basketball Player of the Year, Ventura County Player of the Year, and Ventura County Star Player of the Year following the 2018-19 season. Hailing from Cardinal Newman HS in Santa Rosa, Calif., Choice was the 2019 North Bay League MVP and San Francisco Chronicle North Bay Player of the Year in 2018-19, and was the Chronicle's Girls Player of the Year in 2019-20.
• Transfer Time
On Dec. 16, the NCAA Division I Council granted a blanket waiver allowing all tranfer student-athletes to compete immediately. The decision will allow San Jose State transfer Megan Anderson and Colorado State transfer Taylor Mole to suit up for the Gauchos this season, pending the conclusion of fall quarter. Anderson, a Fresno native, started in every game over the past two seasons for the Spartans, averaging 8.8 points, 3.3 rebounds, 1.0 assists, and 0.8 steals in a team-leading 31.7 minutes per game in her most recent campaign. Mole averaged 1.6 points and 1.1 rebounds per game in her two seasons with the Rams. Mole set career-highs in points (12), shooting (4-4 3PT, 4-8 FG), blocks (2), and minutes (28) over the course of the 2019-20 season.