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New UCSB Coach Unveils Tough Women’s Basketball Schedule

The Gauchos will play 15 home games, beginning with 2008 NCAA participant University of San Diego in Nov. 16 opener.

The defending Big West Conference champion UCSB women’s basketball team will open the Lindsay Gottlieb-era on Nov. 16 at the Thunderdome with a game against the University of San Diego, which, like the Gauchos, qualified for the 2008 NCAA Tournament. In all, the 2008-09 schedule will include 15 home games and several challenging road contests.

Gottlieb, who was hired as UCSB’s head coach in May, unveiled her team’s 2008-09 schedule on Friday. The Gauchos will begin the season with back-to-back games against 2008 NCAA Tournament teams. In addition to the home match-up with San Diego, the defending West Coast Conference champion, they will travel to Fresno State to take on the Western Athletic Conference champions on Nov. 20. 

On Nov. 23, UCSB will play the first of three games against Pac-10 opponents when it travels to the University of Arizona. A week later, on Nov. 30, the Gauchos play at USC, a team they defeated in overtime last season. The final game against a Pac-10 program will come late in the Big West season, on Feb. 24, when Oregon State University comes to town.

The remainder of Santa Barbara’s nonconference schedule also offers outstanding games. The Gauchos’ home schedule will include Nevada (Dec. 4), Gonzaga (Dec. 7), Harvard (Dec. 17), Santa Clara (Dec. 28) and Utah (Dec. 30). The rest of their road slate is highlighted by a Dec. 21 game in Lexington, Ky., against the University of Kentucky. UCSB will also take trips to Pepperdine (Dec. 14) and Cal State Bakersfield (Jan. 31).

“Putting together a competitive and challenging nonconference schedule will always be a priority of mine,” Gottlieb said. “The 08-09 schedule will allow us to establish ourselves on the national level against some of the country’s best. It will also ensure that we are battle-tested as we head into Big West play.”

The Gauchos will open defense of their Big West regular season and tournament crowns on Jan. 2 when they host Long Beach State. On Jan. 4, they play UC Riverside at the Thunderdome. Like the Gauchos, the Highlanders are expected to be among the league’s elite teams in 2008-09, and in recent years the match-ups between the two schools have been some of the most intense in league play.

“I’m excited about the challenges we have in front of us, and even more excited to undertake them with this particular group of Gauchos,” Gottlieb said. “I’m very much looking forward to the unique and exciting atmosphere of our home games at the Thunderdome.”

UCSB will return four regular starters and several other key players from a 2007-08 team that went 23-8 and advanced to the NCAA Tournament. In addition, the Gauchos return 6-foot-4 Jenna Green, a two-time All-Big West honoree who sat out last season but was awarded a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA. Finally, they also will add a duo of freshmen, and Chris Spencer, a transfer from the University of Wisconsin.

Santa Barbara will preview its 2008-09 team with a Thunderdome exhibition game against Westmont College on Nov. 5. The Gauchos will also host an exhibition game against Vanguard University, the defending NAIA champions, on Nov. 11.

Bill Mahoney is UCSB‘s assistant athletics director of media relations.

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