Reaching the Big West women's basketball final has become almost routine for Cal State Long Beach as the 49ers have won four of the last five tournaments. They will play in their seventh consecutive final today, meeting UC Santa Barbara at 3 p.m. at Long Beach Arena.
The Gauchos' tournament history is not nearly as prominent. Last season was the first time in six trips that they were able to win during the Big West tournament, finishing the season with a 12-point semifinal loss to the 49ers.
Santa Barbara (25-4), the No. 1-seeded team, advanced to the title game with victories over Cal State Fullerton and No. 21-ranked Hawaii. Against the Wahines, senior forward Erika Kienast scored a personal-best 26 points and grabbed 15 rebounds. Second-seeded Long Beach (21-8) reached the final with one-sided victories over Fresno State and New Mexico State.
This season, the Gauchos won their two games against the 49ers, defeating Long Beach by seven points in late January and by 88-52 in mid-February. But in that second game, the 49ers played without guard Marsheela Harriston, who was sidelined because of a dislocated knee.