The resurgent Gaucho women, winners of five of their last six games, find out if they are a Big West championship contender Thursday night. UC Davis (13-3, 3-0 in the conference) has lived up to expectations as the preseason favorite. The Aggies return all five starters from last year’s regular-season champions. They were upset by UCSB in the Big West tournament semifinals and undoubtedly have been looking forward to this showdown. The Gauchos (6-10, 3-1), picked to finish third in the conference, knocked off second choice Cal State Northridge on the road last week, 74-73, as first-year guard Sarah Bates had 23 points and five assists. They will be boosted by the return of senior point guard Drea Toler, who has to shake off some rust after sitting out the fall quarter. Thu., 1/18, 7pm. The Thunderdome, UCSB. $5-$12. Call (805) 893-UCSB (8272) or visit


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