Women's Basketball Closes Non-Conference Season vs. Columbia

Jan. 2, 2001

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This Week Santa Clara's women's basketball (8-3) continues a five-game homestand in the reconstructed Leavey Center, and will host it final non-conference game of the season this evening against Columbia. The contest is part of a double-header with the Bronco men, as their match against Murray State will follow at 7:30 p.m. All fans attending either game can receive a free general admission ticket with the purchase of a ticket.

Scouting the Opponent Columbia won its first game of the season Friday night at CS Fullerton with a 67-58 victory. Although 1-6 on the year, five of those losses have been by seven points or less. Shawnee Pickney led all scorers with 18 points, also grabbing 10 rebounds, while guard Megan O'Neill chipped in with 13. Lions senior Brie Cokos add 10 points and eight rebounds off the bench.

Follow the Broncos Live on the Internet Beginning with this evening's game against Columbia, Santa Clara will offer fans a live Internet audio broadcast on www.SantaClaraBroncos.com for all women's home games and a select number of away games yet to be determined. Dan Harrington will be the voice of the Lady Broncos. Additionally, the Broncos' game against Maryland on Dec. 27 marked the first time in the program's history that fans could follow the statistical action live on the Internet. The remaining eight home contests will offer live stats via the web.

RPI Update According to CollegeRPI.com, which simulates the RPI rankings the NCAA uses to determine at-large tournament bids at the end of the year, Santa Clara is currently ranked 30th. As a league, the West Coast Conference ranks ninth, as Saint Mary's (40th), Pepperdine (64th) and Loyola Marymount (70th) are also ranked in the top 100.

WBCA Strength of Schedule The Women's Basketball Coaches Association/Summerville RPI poll ranks Santa Clara 49th as of Dec. 17. The Broncos entered the season ranked 192nd in the country for strength of schedule. The Broncos' opponents posted a 359-392 (.478) record last season. As a league the WCC ranks 12th of 31 conferences ranked.

Behind the Arc Santa Clara drilled seven three-point baskets in its opening-night victory against Pacific. Senior Kim Sorenson posted four of those, finishing the night with 14 points. Junior Caroline Gruening added two treys, while junior Becki Ashbaugh recorded the final one. Making 7-of-16, the Broncos finished the game shooting 43.8 percent from behind the arc. Gruening added a stellar showing at 12th-ranked Oregon on Dec. 2, making five three-pointers en route to a career-high 19 points. The Broncos did it again on Dec. 15 against Sacramento State, hitting 5-9 in the first half, and 6-10 in the game. Additionally, Ashbaugh's three-point basket with 39 seconds left against No. 10 Texas Tech on Dec. 30 proved to be the game-winner, as she went 3-of-3 from behind the arc.

Head Coach Chris Denker Entering his first season as head coach, Chris Denker (Oregon '90) is no stranger to Santa Clara basketball. Serving as an assistant coach on Caren Horstmeyer's staff for the last seven years, Denker becomes only the sixth head coach in the 36-year history of the program. With the victory over Columbia tonight, Denker will tie the best start for a first-year head coach in SCU history, bettering 10-year head coach Ken Thompson's first year mark of nine wins in the 1978-79 season. Under Horstmeyer, Denker was the top recruiting and offensive coordinator. His teams amassed a 137-64 (.682) overall record, including a 69-29 (.704) mark in West Coast Conference play. The Broncos have also won three WCC Championships under his watch and advanced to the postseason four times. He inherits a squad that returns 11 letterwinners and three starters from a 1999-2000 team that went 21-9 and participated in the Women's National Invitation Tournament. He has also been an assistant coach Idaho State University and South Eugene (Ore.) High School. As a collegiate player, Denker lettered in basketball as a freshman at Boise State University before transferring to Linn Benton Community College the next year. At Linn Benton, he served as the basketball team captain and earned honorable mention all-league recognition in 1987.