Events & Media

Tilleman Named Tournament MVP as Gauchos Win Big West Tourney
Team will face #1 Baylor Sunday in opening round of NCAA Tournament

Bren School student Kirsten Tilleman (MESM 2013) was named tournament MVP after the Gauchos women's basketball team defeated Long Beach State 63-54 on Sunday to win the Big West Tournament and earn the conference’s only automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.

“The MVP? I wasn't expecting that,” Tilleman said. “I don't even think about things like that. It's really more of a reflection of my teammates and my coaches, because they make it possible for anyone on this team to step up on any given night. I play for my teammates and my coaches, and it’s a great feeling right now.”

Tilleman had 16 points and 11 rebounds (8 offensive) in the final game, which gave the Gauchos their 14th Big West Tournament crown, more than any school in conference history. It was also the first time a No. 6 seed won the title.

The team will now face the No. 1-seeded, No. 1-ranked Baylor and their star 6-foot-8-inch center, Brittany Griner, perhaps the best female college basketball player ever, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Tip-off is 11:30 Pacific time this Sunday, March 18, in Bowling Green, Ohio. The game will air on an ESPN station and on local radio station AM 990.

Baylor is 34-0 this season and the only undefeated team in the nation. It’s the first time the Gauchos, who are 17-15, will face a No. 1-ranked team. Tilleman will spend a lot of time trying to stop Griner.

“I might be a foot shorter, but that doesn’t mean my heart isn’t big, and I’m going to give it my best,” she said. (At 6-2, Tilleman actually gives up six inches in height.) “I just plan on going out there and not seeing a uniform and not seeing a height and doing what we’ve done all season, which is being the best we can be on that given day.”

Read the UCSB Athletic Department report.
Watch videos of Tilleman and her teammates.