Jan. 2, 2006
SAN BRUNO, Calif. - Travis Niesen is growing pretty comfortable in his role as the leader of the Santa Clara men's basketball team.
The senior captain was named the Most Valuable Player at last week's Cable Car Classic and has now added West Coast Conference Player of the Week to his list of honors. Last week Niesen averaged 23.5 points and 8.5 rebounds in victories over UC Riverside and Bucknell to lead the Broncos to their first Cable Car Classic win in three seasons and the 14th in the 39-year history of the tournament.
Santa Clara is 7-5 on the season and opens WCC play this weekend with home games against Portland on Saturday and eighth-ranked Gonzaga on Monday. Saturday's league opener is scheduled for a 7 p.m. tipoff at the Leavey Center. Tickets are on sale by clicking here or by calling 408/554-4660. Monday night's 9 p.m. contest against the Bulldogs is sold out, but will be televised on ESPN2 as part of the network's Big Monday package. Live online coverage of all SCU games is available via Broncos All-Access.
A native of Mission Viejo, Calif., Niesen leads Santa Clara and ranks second in the WCC in scoring with a 20.3 per game average. He also is sixth in the league in rebounding with a 6.8 per game game average and his 74 percent free throw shooting ranks 12th in the conference. Niesen has surpassed the 20-point mark in seven of SCU's 12 games this season and poured-in a season-high 28 points in the Broncos'63-60 win over Pacific. He added 23 in the 77-68 victory over Bucknell in the Cable Car Classic title game.
Niesen became the 25th player in Santa Clara men's basketball history to surpass 1,000 points in his career. He has 1,095 points in 101 career appearances to rank 22nd on the Bronco scoring charts. Niesen has increased his scoring average at SCU by at least five points in each of his four seasons.
SCU swept the weekly league honors as Michelle Cozad was named the women's basketball Player of the Week for the fourth time this season. She averaged 21.5 points, 10.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 3.5 steals in the Broncos two victories over CS Northridge and Ball State.
The West Coast Conference is ranked No. 10 in the latest Collegiate Men's Basketball RPI report. The WCC's No. 10 ranking is out of the 32 Division I conferences in the country, and the second consecutive year that the Conference is ranked in the top 10 in the nation. It also marks the third time in the last six seasons that the WCC has garnered a top 10 RPI listing. Last season, the WCC finished the season with an all-time best No. 7 ranking in the RPI and in 2002 the league capped the year with a No. 10 rating.