Lindsay Gottlieb was named Big West Coach of the Year in women’s basketball today after she led UCSBto the regular-season championship in her first year as a head coach. The Gaucho women went 15-1 in the conference and 20-9 overall, the 12th time they’ve won at least 20 games in the past 14 seasons.
Senior center Jenna Green and guard Lauren Pedersen represent UCSB on the All-Big West first team. Junior forward Jordan Franey was accorded honorable mention, and guard Emilie Johnson was named to the All-Freshman team.
Pedersen led the Gauchos in scoring (12.8 points per game) as well as total rebounds, assists, and steals. She scored a career-high 28 points last week in UCSB’s title-clinching 65-59 victory at UC Riverside. Senior center Kemie Nkele of UCR scored 29 points and has been chosen Big West Player of the Year for the second time.
The Gauchos earned the top seed in the Big West Basketball Tournament and will play the first semifinal game at noon Friday, March 13, at the Anaheim Convention Center. Their opponent will be the lowest-seeded team out of the quarterfinals. UCR will face the highest seed in the other semifinal. The winner of the women’s final (1 p.m. Saturday) will earn a berth in the NCAA tournament.
UCSB’s men will launch their bid for the NCAAs in the Big West Tournament quarterfinals at approximately 8:30 p.m. Thursday. The Gauchos (8-8, 15-14) earned the fourth seed in the conference by winning seven of their last eight games, including a 76-75 upset of second-seeded Long Beach State in their regular-season finale last Saturday at the Thunderdome. Freshman guard James Nunnally sank a 3-point basket as time ran out for the dramatic victory.
Senior forward Chris Devine, who led the Gauchos in scoring (15.5) and rebounding (6.5), has been named to the All-Big West first team. He is UCSB’s only honoree on the men’s side. The Player of the Year is Cal State Fullerton‘s senior sharpshooter Josh Akognon, one of the nation’s top 10 scorers (23.5 average). He twice had 29-point games against UCSB. Bobby Braswell, who led Cal State Northridge to the regular-season title, is men’s Coach of the Year.
UCSB’s potential opponents Thursday night include Fullerton, UC Irvine, and UC Riverside. Tickets for the Big West Tournament can be ordered through the Gaucho Web site or by calling 893-UCSB.