The battle for the 2013 Big West Tournament women's title is set to begin next week as the matchups are set for the first round.
The Tournament will return to a double-bye format in 2013, with the first and quarterfinal rounds slated for the Bren Events Center on the campus of UC Irvine on Tuesday and Wednesday. The semifinals and championship game will take place at Honda Center Friday and Saturday. BigWest.TV will carry the first through semifinal rounds, while the championship game will be on Prime Ticket at 1:00 pm on Saturday, March 16. All games involving Hawai'i will also be shown on the islands on Oceanic Time Warner Cable.
Pacific (24-6) earned the top seed for the first time in program history following a 14-4 campaign against league foes. The Tigers earned a double bye to the semifinals and will play the lowest remaining seed in a 12:00pm matchup at Honda Center. Cal Poly claimed the other coveted double bye as the Mustangs finished 13-5 in the league. They will play their Tournament matchup 30 minutes after the first semifinal.
No. 3 seed Hawai'i earned a bye to the quarterfinals and awaits the lowest seeded team following first round matchups. The Wahine will play at 6:00 pm, with No. 4 UC Santa Barbara's matchup against the highest remaining seed coming 30 minutes following the first quarterfinal.
The first round on Tuesday will have two evening games, with the first being No. 8 Cal State Fullerton taking on No. 5 Long Beach State at 6:00 pm. The 49ers downed the Titans twice this season, most recently a two-point road win on February 14. The other matchup features No. 7 UC Davis against No. 6 Cal State Northridge 30 minutes after CSF/LBSU. The two teams split their games this year, with each club winning a home outing.
BIG WEST AT A GLANCE
• Molly Schlemer continued Cal Poly’s stranglehold on the Big West Player of the Year award, winning the program’s fourth consecutive honor. Before this four-year run, the Mustangs had never had a Big West Player of the Year. The streak matches the most consecutive Player of the Year awards won by a school, drawing even with UC Santa Barbara from 1997-2000. Unlike those Gauchos though, Cal Poly has had three different players win. Former UCSB great Erin Buescher won the award all four seasons.
• The Big West first team consists of six players from five teams. Pacific’s senior duo of Erica McKenzie and Kendall Rodriguez are the lone pair of teammates on the club, the first time the Tigers have placed two on the first team since Gillian d’Hondt and Seleno Ho were on the 2002 first team. Cal Poly’s Molly Schlemer, UC Davis’ Sydnee Fipps, UC Santa Barbara’s Sweets Underwood and Hawai’i Kamilah Martin rounded out the team.
• Hawai’i makes its return to the Big West Tournament next week as the three seed. The last time the Wahine was in the annual conference postseason derby was 1996, a Tournament that saw UH claim its only title. That championship was the culimination of a four-year run that saw Hawai’i make three championship game appearances.
• Pacific’s first Big West title in program history comes in its swansong in the league, a span of 29 years. The Tigers’ 24 wins are the most for a team entering the Big West Tournament since the 2002-03 UCSB club also had 24 entering the league tourney. 2012-13 also marked the first 20+ win regular season champion since UC Davis in the 2009-10 season.
• UC Santa Barbara earned the fourth seed in the Tournament, but the Gaucho history at the Tournament is well chronicled. UCSB owns league bests in Tournament titles (14), wins (43), winning percentage (.768) and championship game appearances (16).
• Cal Poly’s two seed and double bye into the semifinals marks the sixth consecutive season the program has reached that round of the Tournament, its best string in league history. During this time, the club has made two appearances in the final and had at least one All-Tournament member on three occasions.
• UC Riverside’s Tre’Shonti Nottingham ended her illustrious Highlander career last weekend with her name etched in the Big West record books. Nottingham went 418-for-488 from the free throw line over her four-year career, converting at a league-record 85.6% clip. Nottingham broke the record of a former teammate, Brittany Waddell. Waddell shot 84.2% from 2006-08 and 09-11.