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Mar 12, 2012 9:00 PM by Andrew Masuda

UCSB women play #1 Baylor in first round of NCAA Tournament

The UC Santa Barbara women's basketball team learned its NCAA Tournament fate on Monday and perhaps wish it never did. The Gauchos are the 16th seed in the Des Moines Regional. UCSB faces Baylor, the number one overall seed in the first round on Sunday.

The Big 12 champion Lady Bears are 34-0 and are trying to become the NCAA's first 40 win team if they win their second national title. The first round game is Sunday at 11:30 am PST in Bowling Green, Ohio.

UCSB, under first year head coach Carlene Mitchell, is coming off a surprising run at the Big West Conference Tournament. The Gauchos, who were seeded 6th, became the lowest seed to ever with the tournament. The Gauchos are 17-15 overall and riding a season-best 4 game winning streak. UCSB captured its 14th Big West Tournament title to earn its first NCAA Tournament berth since 2009.

Baylor, the 2005 national champion, features 6-8 star Britney Griner. The Lady Bears have wins this season over Connecticut and Notre Dame, also No. 1 NCAA seeds, and Tennessee, which is in the No. 2 seed in Baylor's bracket.

Griner, a junior, is already the first player in Division I history to register 2,000 career points and 500 blocked shots. This year, Griner is averaging 23.3 points (7th best in Division I), 9.4 rebounds (36th) and 5.2 blocks per game (1st). She is shooting .614 from the floor, which ranks second, and .804 from the free throw line.

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