Women's Hoops Hosts Gonzaga, Portland as WCC Season Opens
Jan. 8, 2002
Santa Clara returns home and will open the West Coast Conference season this week, hosting Gonzaga on Thursday. Fans that donate a jacket will receive a $2 admission price as part of "Bring a Coat Night." Portland will also visit the Leavey Center, on Saturday. The Broncos will celebrate Middle School Madness and Girl Scout Night against the Pilots. Both contests are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.
Santa Clara finished the conference season with a 10-3 record, tied for the second best in the last 10 years and third best overall. Santa Clara has posted 11 straight non-losing non-conference seasons and is 94-41 (.696) during that span. Santa Clara's most successful non-conference season ever came during the 1990-91 season when the Broncos went 12-2. What did the other team do that also went at least 10-3 in non-conference action? The 1993-94 and 1998-99 squads advanced to the NCAA Tournament, while the 1999-2000 squad earned a WNIT postseason berth. The 1996-97 team was the only squad not to advance to the postseason, but they did finish with a 19-9 record. Additionally, all eight conference squads enter league play with non-losing records.
Live on the Internet
Santa Clara's league contests can be heard on a live Internet audio broadcast on www.SantaClaraBroncos.com. Additionally, all home contests can be followed online with a live statistical tracker, also located on Santa Clara's official athletic website. By logging on, fans can receive real-time updated statistics direct from the official scoring computer allowing users to listen to the audio broadcast and keep up with the statistics simultaneously. The features were introduced midway through last season and have been enjoyed for the team's entire regular season home schedule. Anthony Passarelli begins his first season as the voice of the Broncos.
Broncos Picked Fifth in Preseason Poll
Despite returning two starters from the 2001 regular season West Coast Conference championship women's basketball team, and a third starter from two seasons ago-and having never finished lower than third in league play in the last 10 years-Santa Clara was picked to finish fifth in a poll by league coaches, the conference announced earlier this season.
Saint Mary's earned 49 points to slide ahead of Pepperdine for the top spot in this year's poll. San Francisco and Loyola Marymount are slated to finish third and fourth, respectively, in the poll.
Shooting over the .500 Mark
Santa Clara did not shoot over .500 from the field in its first nine games, but has since found its groove as the Broncos have reached that mark in six of their last eight halves of play. The team posted a 58.6 percentage in the first half against Temple and followed with an even .500 mark in the second period of the game for a 54.2 percent average. Two nights later, against Portland State, SCU had another hot first half, going 56.7 percent from the field. Against CS Northridge, Santa Clara shot halves of 51.4 and 50.0 percent. Against TCU, Santa Clara rebounded from a poor first half and shot an even .500 in the second.
Scouting the Gonzaga Bulldogs
Series Record: SCU leads 21-8
First Game: Gonzaga won 59-45 on Jan. 16, 1988 in Spokane
Last Game: Santa Clara won 70-54 on Feb. 22, 2001 in Spokane
Largest SCU Margin of Victory: 44 on Jan. 10, 1997 (84-40) in Santa Clara
Largest Gonzaga Margin of Victory: 26 on Feb. 3, 1989 (72-46) in Spokane
Gonzaga Record in 2000-2001: 5-23, (0-14, 8th in West Coast Conference)
Letterwinners Returning/Lost: 6/5
Starters Returning/Lost: 4/1
Notable: Gonzaga is off to its best start in seven seasons, winning its last three games for a current 9-5 mark... Ashley Burke and Jessica Malone teamed up to score 43 points in the Zags' win over Sacramento State last week... the Bulldogs are looking for their first conference win since the 1999-2000 season.
Scouting the Portland Pilots
Series Record: Series tied 17-17
First Game: Santa Clara won 62-59 on Jan. 5, 1987 in Santa Clara
Last Game: Portland won 86-65 on March 1, 2001 in San Diego
Largest SCU Margin of Victory: 64 on Jan. 31, 1991 (79-53) in Portland
Largest Portland Margin of Victory: 26 on Jan. 13, 1996 (69-43) in Portland
Portland Record in 2000-2001: 14-15, (4-10, 7th in West Coast Conference)
Letterwinners Returning/Lost: 9/2
Starters Returning/Lost: 2/3
Notable: Portland is 8-5 on the season after opening its schedule with six straight wins... like the Broncos, the Pilots are undefeated at home with a 7-0 mark... Portland will visit San Diego before meeting Santa Clara on Saturday.
In the WCC Statistics
Santa Clara leads the league in five categories: scoring offense (76.1 ppg), rebounding margin (+2.6), rebounding offense (40.7 pg), free throw percentages (.744) and defensive rebounds (29.15 pg). The Broncos are second in scoring margin (+11.3), three-point field goal percentages (.391) and assists (17.46). Individually, Becki Ashbaugh is second in assists (5.77) while Caroline Gruening is 10th (3.46). Gruening is also ranked in free throw percentage, eighth with a .926 mark. Teammate Kayla Huss is tied with seven others that have been perfect from the charity stripe. Additionally, Gruening is third in three-point field goals made (2.23) and eighth in percentage (.509). Tammy Annas is rated ninth in three-point field goals with a 1.46 per game mark. Kendra Rhea is ranked fourth in defensive rebounds (4.38) while Julie Butler leads three Broncos in scoring, at 17th with a 11.0 average. Courtney Cushing is second in the WCC in field goal percentage with her .727 average..
Protecting the Home Court
Santa Clara is one of three league teams undefeated at home this season. The Broncos and Loyola Marymount are 5-0, while Portland is boasting a 7-0 record at its own court. SCU will put its win streak on the line when Gonzaga visits the Leavey Center on Thursday.
Up Next: Continuing Conference Play
Santa Clara continues conference play next with a home-and-home series with San Diego. The action starts Wednesday at the Toreros' Jenny Craig Pavilion, the site of the 2002 WCC Championships. The rematch will take place three days later at Santa Clara. USD is 9-4 overall, 7-1 at home, it's only loss at the JCP was an overtime game against No. 4 Iowa State.
Welcome to "Washington South"
With eight players on this year's roster from the state of Washington, the mission campus is becoming known as "Washington South." The Broncos returned five of the six Washington natives from last season in senior Becki Ashbaugh of Bellevue, junior Tammy Annas of Enumclaw, sophomore Jennie Rondel of Kirkland, junior Julie Butler of Tacoma and junior Courtney Cushing of Brush Prairie. The addition of an entire recruiting class, in three incoming freshman, complete this season's contingent from the Evergreen State: Kim Butler of Tacoma, Quinn Thomas of Kent and Kayla Huss of Everett.
Head Coach Chris Denker
In his first season as head coach, Chris Denker (Oregon '90) led the Broncos to a share of the regular season WCC title with Saint Mary's. The championship made Denker and first-year Gael coach Michelle Jacoby the first first-year coaches to win a women's basketball title in the WCC, taking into consideration both rookie head coaches and previously experienced head coaches in their first year with a league squad. Additionally, the victory over Pepperdine on Jan. 11 made Denker the winningest first-year head coach in SCU history, surpassing 10-year head coach Ken Thompson's first year mark of nine wins in the 1978-79 season. Now in his second season with a 30-11 (.732) career mark, Denker was no stranger to Santa Clara basketball. Serving as an assistant coach on Caren Horstmeyer's staff for the last seven years, 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 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 LBCC, he served as the basketball team captain and earned honorable mention All-League recognition in 1987.