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Gauchos Visit CSUN Before Road Rematch with CSU Bakersfield

Anya Choice. Photo by Jeff Liang.
Anya Choice. Photo by Jeff Liang.

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — UC Santa Barbara Women's Basketball (11-5, 4-2 Big West) will wrap up a run of five games in ten days this week, taking on CSUN in Northridge on Thursday and CSU Bakersfield in Bakersfield on Saturday. The Gauchos are off to their best start to conference play since the 2016-17 season, winning four of their first six Big West games. One of those games was a narrow win over CSUB at the Thunderdome on January 11.

LAST TIME OUT
UC Santa Barbara welcomed UC Irvine to the Thunderdome in their last game, a showdown between two of the conference's top teams. Three Gauchos put up double-digit scoring nights against the Anteaters, with senior Ila Lane recording her sixth double-double of the season, but UCSB fell to the conference leaders, 70-60.

UC Santa Barbara 60, UC Irvine 70
Points: Whitfield (15); Marin, Lane (10)
Rebounds: Lane (12); Whitfield (6)
Assists: Marin (5); Cooper (3); Mole (2)
Steals: Cooper, Whitfield, Burke (1)

HISTORY
The Gauchos swept the season series against CSUN in 2022, defeating the Matadors 61-54 in the Thunderdome and 63-51 in Northridge. Alexis Tucker and Ila Lane led UCSB in last year's road win, scoring 23 and 14 points respectively, with Lane adding 11 rebounds.

Saturday's game in Bakersfield will be the second meeting between the Gauchos and Roadrunners this season, only 10 days removed from their first, a 63-62 UCSB victory at the Thunderdome. Lane scored 20 points and grabbed 16 rebounds to lead the Gauchos, but it was the heroics of juniors Anya Choice and Alyssa Marin that sealed the win. Choice blocked a potential Roadrunner game-winning shot, with Marin grabbing the rebound and drawing the game-winning free throws for the Gauchos.

DETAILS
Game 17
Thursday, Jan. 19 | 7 p.m.
CSUN (4-13, 3-4) vs. UC Santa Barbara (11-5, 4-2)
Premier America Credit Union Arena | Northridge, Calif.
ESPN+ | Live Stats

Game 18
Saturday, Jan. 21 | 2 p.m.
CSU Bakersfield (5-10, 2-5) vs. UC Santa Barbara (11-5, 4-2)
Icardo Center  | Bakersfield, Calif.
ESPN+ | Live Stats

UP NEXT
UC Santa Barbara returns home for their next game, hosting Big West preseason favorites Hawai'i on Thursday, January 26. The game will be broadcast on ESPN+ and live stat will be available on ucsbgauchos.com. Tip is set for 7 p.m.

GAUCHOS AMONG THE BIG WEST'S BEST
UCSB currently sits third in The Big West in scoring offense (62.67 ppg), free throw percentage (75.6%), and rebounding (36.17 rpg). The Gauchos are especially good at controlling the offensive glass, snagging 11.17 offensive rebounds per game (3rd), with an offensive rebound percentage of 32.1% (3rd). Senior center Ila Lane does much of that rebounding, ranking second in The Big West with 60 total boards (10 rpg). When it comes to shooting the ball, no one in the conference has made more three-pointers than freshman guard Jessica Grant, who set multiple California state records for threes in high school.

STARTING CONFERENCE PLAY STRONG
The Gauchos won their first three Big West games this season, and their 4-2 conference record is their best through six games since achieving the same record in the 2016-17 season. Their win over Cal State Fullerton marked the first time that UCSB has won back-to-back Big West openers under coach Bonnie Henrickson (since 2015-16). The Gauchos are now 4-4 in conference openers in the Henrickson era.

TUCKER EARNS BIG WEST PLAYER OF THE WEEK (NOV. 28)
Senior Alexis Tucker received Big West Player of the Week honors following her career-high 29 points in UC Santa Barbara's triple-overtime win over Southern Utah. Tucker's scoring helped the Gauchos to their first 100-point performance against Division I opposition in over two decades. The award is Tucker's first Big West Player of the Week honor.

LANE NAMED BIG WEST PLAYER OF THE WEEK (NOV. 14)
Senior Ila Lane earned Big West Player of the Week honors after a pair of impressive performances to open the season. The Moraga native averaged 16.5 points on 71.4% shooting, plus 8.5 rebounds across the first two games of the season, wins over Santa Clara and Pepperdine. This is Lane's sixth Big West Player of the Week honor, an award she has received more frequently than all but two Gauchos in history.

GAUCHOS HAVE BEST START SINCE '02
By winning five of their first six games, UC Santa Barbara got off to their best start to a season since the 2002-03 season, which also began with a 5-1 record. The only season the Gauchos started with a better record was the 1987-88 campaign, when long-time head coach Mark French's squad won their first eight games.

GAUCHOS GIVE 13TH-RANKED BRUINS RUN FOR THEIR MONEY (DEC. 3)
Hosting UCLA at the Thunderdome in its marquee non-conference matchup, UC Santa Barbara gave the then-13th-ranked Bruins all they could handle. The Gauchos held an 18-point lead at halftime, but eventually fell, 68-57. Alyssa Marin had a team-high 17 points on 6-of-9 from the field (4-7 3FG). Freshman Jessica Grant scored a career-high 12 points on 4-6 shooting from beyond the arc.

HISTORY MADE IN TRIPLE OT WIN (NOV. 26)UC Santa Barbara recorded their first ever triple-overtime win in a back-and-forth thriller at Southern Utah, defeating the Thunderbirds, 102-96. Alexis Tucker recorded a career-high 29 points to lead the team; Ila Lane tallied a season-high 22 points. The win was UCSB's first time scoring over 100 points against a Division I opponent since the Gauchos beat CSUN, 105-60, at the Thunderdome in January of 2002. Santa Barbara is now 2-1 in overtime under Bonnie Henrickson and 1-2 all-time in triple-overtime games.

LANE NAMED TO LISA LESLIE AWARD WATCH LIST
Senior IIa Lane has been named to the 2023 Lisa Leslie Award Watch List by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. This award is awarded annually the top center in women's college Basketball. The 2022-23 season is Lane's third consecutive year on the 20-player list.

The list will be narrowed down to 10 in February and then 5 finalists are chosen in March to be presented to Lisa Leslie and the committee. To help Lane move forward in this selected process, fans have the chance to vote. Voting opens up Friday, Oct. 21 so fans can vote for their favorite players in each of the three rounds. The top-10 player selections from the fan vote will get an additional vote towards making the next round.

LANE NAMED TO BIG WEST PRESEASON TEAM, GAUCHOS PICKED 2ND IN POLL
The Big West announced its Women's Basketball Preseason Coaches' Poll and Team on Oct. 20, 2022. The UCSB women's basketball team was picked to finish second, which is the program's highest preseason ranking in the Bonnie Henrickson era. Making the preseason team for the second straight year was senior Ila Lane. After finishing third in the poll the last two seasons, the Gauchos make their way into the top two, garnering two first place votes and finishing only behind reigning champion Hawai'i.

For the second straight year Gaucho big Ila Lane has been selected by the coaches around The Big West as one of the top players in the conference. Last season she led the conference with 9.7 rpg, a .580 field goal percentage, and 12 doubles-doubles and was named to the All-Big West Second Team. She also ranked eighth with nearly a block a game, 11th with 12.1 ppg, and 12th with 32 mpg.