Two nationally prominent players will take the stage for UCSB’s basketball teams in their season openers this week. Ila Lane will return at center for the Gaucho women’s team, which faces Loyola Marymount on Tuesday (Nov. 9), and forward Amadou Sow will lead the Gaucho men, who host San Francisco State on Wednesday.
Both games begin at 7 p.m. at the Thunderdome.
Lane received All-America recognition at the end of the 2019-20 season, when she led the nation in rebounding. The 6’4″ junior has three more years of eligibility remaining after she sat out last season because of COVID concerns. She has been named to the 20-player watch list for the 2022 Lisa Leslie Award, recognizing the top centers in women’s college basketball.
Sow, a 6’9″ senior, is on the watch list for the Lou Henson National Player of the Year Award, which is presented to the top mid-major Division I college men’s player.
Sow has been joined by 6’10” senior Miles Norris on the preseason All-Big West team chosen by the conference coaches. The Gauchos, coming off a 22-5 season and their first Big West title in 10 years, finished on top of both the coaches and media polls predicting the 2022 champions.
UCSB will raise the 2021 championship banner prior to Wednesday’s tip-off. The largest home crowd in almost two years is guaranteed because attendance was restricted by the pandemic last year. New chair-back seats in the Thunderdome await the fans.
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Two promotions to entice students to attend the men’s game are free burgers from The Habit and entertainment by DJ Ian.
The Gaucho women were picked to finish third by the Big West coaches, who put Lane on the preseason all-conference team. Taylor Mole, a 6’2″ senior, made the team picked by the media. They will be tested Tuesday by the LMU Lions, who include 5’10” senior guard Cassandra Gordon, a former Santa Barbara High star, on their roster.
Visit ucsbgauchos.com for information on ticketing for UCSB athletic events. Those attending indoor events must provide proof either of full vaccination against COVID or a negative test for the virus within 72 hours.
SOCCER FINAL: The 2021 Big West men’s soccer championship and a berth in the NCAA tournament will be decided by Saturday’s 7 p.m. match between UCSB (11-4-4) and UC Irvine (8-7-4) at Harder Stadium.
The top-seeded Gauchos edged UC Davis in the semifinals, 1-0, on sophomore Nemo Phillip’s golden goal with just minutes left in overtime. UC Irvine won a penalty-kick shootout against UC Riverside after playing to a 2-2 tie through the overtime periods. The Anteaters are unbeaten in their last eight matches beginning with a 1-1 tie at UCSB on October 6.