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Wilson Named Big West Player of Year

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Senior guard joined by Suderman on first team, while Brown and Gibbons also earn honors.

After winning a 12th Big West Conference regular season title in the last 13 years, it stood to reason the UCSB women’s basketball team would earn its share of honors when all-conference teams were announced. It’s little surprise then that senior guard Jessica Wilson and her teammates dominated Monday’s selections.

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For starters, Wilson was named the 2007-08 Big West Player of the Year and, of course, earned a spot on the six-player All-Big West First Team. Wilson led the Gauchos in both scoring and rebounding during the regular season, averaging 12.7 points and 6.4 rebounds, respectively. Appearing in 27 of UCSB’s 28 games and starting all but two, Wilson reached double figures 17 times and had five performances of 20 or more.

The Sacramento native ranked in the Big West’s Top 10 in five statistical categories, including scoring, rebounding and steals, and racked up five double-doubles. She scored a season-high 26 points and hauled in 10 rebounds on Senior Day last Saturday, guiding the Gauchos to a come-from-behind victory over Long Beach State.

Wilson becomes the first Gaucho to earn Big West Player of the Year honors since Kristen Mann in 2005, and is the 10th overall. Wilson earned All-Big West Second Team accolades as a sophomore and a junior.

Joining Wilson on the first team was Kat Suderman, who had a career year after redshirting last season to recover from knee surgery. The junior forward appeared in 26 games and averaged career highs in points (10.8), rebounds (4.9), field-goal percentage (.473), blocked shots (19), and minutes per game (22.0). Suderman scored 10 points or more 16 times during the regular season, leading the Gauchos to a 14-2 record in those contests. UCSB’s second-leading scorer and rebounder, she posted her first-career double-double at Cal State Fullerton on Feb. 7, tallying 15 points and 11 boards and scored a career-high 22 points on 11-for-14 shooting in the Gauchos’ win at UC Irvine two days later.

Sha’Rae Gibbons also had a career year and the junior guard earned All-Big West Honorable Mention honors as a result. One of five Gauchos to appear in all 28 regular-season games, Gibbons was third in scoring on the team, averaging 9.5 points per game, while dishing out 3.5 assists, a figure that ranks second. She enters postseason play leading the team with 32 three-pointers and is the Gauchos’ top free-throw shooter at 86 percent. Gibbons finished eight-of-12 from the field and scored a career-best 23 points at Pacific on Jan. 26.

Rounding out the all-conference awards was Ashlee Brown, who was named to the Big West All-Freshman squad. The 6-foot forward averaged 6.6 points and 4.3 rebounds in 28 games during the regular season. She shot 49 percent from the field to lead the team and has reached double figures eight times.

After finishing the regular season with a 21-7 record — and an impressive 15-1 in conference play — the Gauchos begin their quest for a 10th Big West Tournament title in the last 12 years Friday in the semifinal round against an opponent yet to be determined. Tip-off is at noon at the Anaheim Convention Center.

Ryan Hall is UCSB‘s assistant media relations director.

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