The UCSB women’s basketball season arrives at High Noon today.
The Gauchos will play a “School Day” game at the Thunderdome against Utah Valley.
“There will be lots of kids there – the ‘Scream Game’ is what we call it,” UCSB assistant coach Nate Fripp said during Monday’s Athletic Round Table press luncheon at Harry’s Plaza cafe. “All the elementary schools come out and they just yell the whole game.”
Fans should have something to cheer about, he added, in what he promises will be a bounce-back season from last year’s 8-22 finishg.
“We have a good mix of returners and new blood,” Fripp pointed out. “We didn’t lose any players from last year’s team.”
The top veterans include 5-foot-10 senior Coco Miller (12.2 points per game); 6-4 senior center Natalia Bruening (9.9 points, 6.1 rebounds), and junior point guard Danae Miller (9.7 points, 4.0 assists).
“This year, everybody’s improved,” Fripp said. “They worked really hard in the spring. We have great expectations of them, and we’ve got a really good class coming in.”
The fab freshmen, he said, include point guard Johnni Gonzalez from Kansas City’s Bishop Miege High; 6-4 center Illa Lane from Moraga’s Woodside Priory School, and 6-3 Nyalam Thabach from Boise, Idaho’s Borah High.
“We expect big things from Nyalam,” Fripp said. “She’s a long, athletic forward.”
THE FEW, THE PROUD WARRIORS
Westmont College returns all its starters and all but one reserve from last’s 24-8 team, but its roster is not a long one. The Warriors have just nine players, and at least one of them will be out with an injury for tonight’s 7 o’clock season opener at Claremont-Mudd-Scripps.
“Some players are still dealing with some health-related things,” coach Kirsten Moore said. “But our theme going into this year before I knew that was going to happen … is ‘grit and gratitude.’ We’re already having to put that to work with just some of some of these unexpected things that have happened.”
Three freshmen were Westmont’s leading scorers last year: 5-11 Kaitlin Larson (12.2 points, 7.0 rebounds per game), 6-foot Sydney Brown (9.7, 8.8 rebounds), and 5-5 Iyree Jarrett (9.6, 4.2 assists). Also back are 5-foot junior Lauren Tsuneishi (9.0 points) and 5-7 Maud Ranger (7.1, 4.3 rebounds), the team’s lone senior.
“The majority of my team now are sophomores, and that is fun because they know what they’re doing,” Moore said. “They know the expectation level … And they are having fun doing it.
“They’ve got great team unity, they’re an absolute joy to coach every day, and I’m excited to go to battle with them.”
Saturday’s home opener against Northern New Mexico will tip off at 10:30 a.m. “because of a lot of events happening up at Westmont,” Moore pointed out.
LOCAL MOTION AT SBCC
SBCC is off to a 2-1 start, with several local athletes playing key roles. They include former Santa Barbara High stars Sophia Torres and Alondra Jimenez.
“Torres had double-doubles in our two wins and she leads us in scoring at 17 points a game, and in rebounding 12.3,” sports information specialist Dave Loveton said. “Jimenez is averaging nearly 15 a game and handing out 4.3 assists.”
San Diego City College will visit the Sports Pavilion Thursday night.
Westmont’s men’s team is the exact opposite of the school’s women’s squad, with five new starters. Four of them are new to the school altogether.
The expectations are really low, a nice place to be, and I think we’re going to survive,” said John Moore, who is starting his 27th season as the Warriors’ head coach.
They’ve done better than survive so far, opening with victory margins of 30 points over Corben, Ore. and 10 points over Bethesda.
Cade Roth, a 6-5 sophomore and the lone letterman in the starting lineup, averaged 16.0 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 5.0 assists in the two games. Two transfers have put up big numbers, as well: 6-3 junior Hunter Sipe (16.5 points, 5.5 rebounds) and 6-6 senior Justin Bessard (14.5 points, 9.5 rebounds).
Westmont is back in Murchison Gym on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. to play Montana’s Yellowstone Christian.
GAUCHOS TIED AT THE TOP
UCSB’s five-set loss at Hawaii last week has created a three-way tie atop the Big West Conference between the Gauchos, Hawaii, and Cal Poly.
“Our team put everything they had on the floor,” coach Nicole Lantagne Welch said. “We played hard, we played aggressive, we played to win … we just came up on the wrong side.
“The good news is we are still 19-3 and in a three-way tie for first place in the Big West.”
UCSB, which has five conference matches remaining, will travel to Cal Poly on Saturday.
“This is the last pairing of the top three, so this match is critical,” Welch said. “We got them at home last time but they’re very, very good in their home. I think they have some long streak there.
“But we’re ready to go in there and take it from them.”
Westmont College is also in a three-way tie for first, sharing the top spot with Menlo and Hope International with two matches to go.
“The two other teams have to play each other, so we have a very good chance of being co-champions in volleyball in the GSAC,” sports information director Ron Smith said.
The Warriors will complete league play with home matches on Friday against Arizona Christian and Saturday against Ottawa University of Arizona.
“Friday is our Senior Day,” Smith pointed out, “but since we have only one senior, it’s really our Cassidy Rea Day.”
VAQUEROS IN STRETCH RUN
SBCC’s match last week at Ventura, which was postponed because of smokey conditions, will be made up as a regular-season finale on Friday, Nov. 15 at 6 p.m.
The Vaqueros, 4-3 in the WSC North, will also play at Cuesta on Wednesday before playing their final home match on Friday against highly ranked Moorpark.
“It’ll also be our Sophomore Night — our version of Senior Night — for our one sophomore and little leader (Maddi Meyer),” coach Kat Niksto said.
HOME, SWEET HOME
Westmont College (13-2-1), the GSAC regular-season champion, will play host to the league’s post-season tournament which begins a week from Wednesday. The Warriors have outscored their opponents 17-0 in home conference matches.
Bri Johnson, the Athletic Round Table’s Female Athlete of the Week, leads the Warriors with 13 goals.
“Bri is amazing,” coach Jenny Jaggard said. “But not only is she scoring goals but she’s also defending harder than just about any forward I’ve ever seen. So she really fits the complete package.”
MURISON HONORED AGAIN
UCSB senior Shaelan Murison was honored for the fourth time by the Big West Conference with its Offensive Player of the Week honor for women’s soccer.
She assisted on the game-winning goal in Friday night’s 3-2 victory over UC Riverside which secured a berth for the Gauchos in the upcoming Big West Tournament. She added a goal and an assist in Sunday’s 2-2 against UC Irvine.
Murison has scored 17 goals and assisted seven others this season.
UCSB will be the No. 3 seed for the Big West Tournament and play Cal State Northridge in the semifinal round on Thursday at 5 p.m. at Cal State Fullerton.
The host Titans will take-on Hawai’i in the other semifinal match. The winners will play for the league title and automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament on Sunday at 1 p.m., also at Cal State Fullerton.
HISTORIC SEASON FOR WARRIORS
Westmont College captured its first outright men’s soccer championship in the GSAC in 30 years. The Warriors will play host to the league’s tournament, which begins a week from Thursday, with the final following the next day.
WALLACE CATCHING ON
A bright spot for SBCC’s football team has been Cyrus Wallace, a 6-foot-4 freshman from Dos Pueblos High.
Wallace led the Vaqueros in their regular-season finale against Hancock on Saturday with six receptions for 86 yards and his second touchdown of the season. It improved his season totals to 28 catches for 291 yards.
“Cyrus Wallace is a special athlete and a special person,” coach Craig Moropoulos said. “He’s a stalwart wide receiver: big guy, great attitude, and he’s playing big for us.”
LATE COACH TO BE HONORED
The late Mel Gemberling, who assisted Westmont College’s baseball program for 30 years beginning in 1985, will be honored prior to the school’s alumni game at noon on Saturday.
“We’ll be doing a celebration of life ceremony which will be pretty special,” sports information director Ron Smith said.