Feb. 26, 2002
For the second consecutive year, the Broncos will have to travel for the chance at the league title. Last season, the West Coast Conference left the Mission Campus for the first time in three years to host its annual basketball showcase, as the 2001 WCC Women's Basketball Championships took place last March at San Diego's Jenny Craig Pavilion. Renovations to the Leavey Center prompted the change in venue, but the Toreros did such a good job hosting, the 2002 tournament is returning to the JCP. Santa Clara earned the second seed and will open action against host San Diego on Thursday at 6 p.m.
How the Broncos Earned the Second Seed
The Broncos finished the regular season 9-5 in the league with a victory over regular season WCC champion Pepperdine on Saturday. With Saint Mary's loss to Portland later that night, combined with San Francisco's victory over Gonzaga, a three-way tie was created for the second seed. Using league tie-breaker rules, the WCC looked at head-to-head competition first. The Broncos split with both Saint Mary's and USF, but the Gaels swept the Dons in both contests during the regular season, knocking USF out of the tie-breaker. Conference rules then move to the win-loss record vs. each league member based on descending order of finish in the final conference standings. Both SMC and SCU split with Pepperdine during the regular season, but the Broncos' sweep of Loyola Marymount provided the tie-breaker and handed the Broncos the second seed.
The Other First-Round Match Ups
Top-seeded Pepperdine will face Gonzaga to open the tournament at noon, while USF and Loyola Marymount will tip off 30 minutes after the conclusion of that game. The final match-up in first-round action will be a rematch against Portland for Saint Mary's.
Join the Broncos in San Diego -- Ticket Information
Santa Clara is offering a Super Pass that will allow admission to all the men's and women's games with seating located in the Broncos' section for $65. Please visit www.SantaClaraBroncos.com or call 408-554-4660 to order tickets.
Continuing Through the League Championship
The tournament continues through March 3, with the women's semifinal games beginning March 1 at 6 p.m., with the championship slated for a 2:30 p.m. start on March 3. The title contest will air live on Fox Sports West, KRON and Action Sports.
History of Success
With a 9-5 WCC mark, Santa Clara recorded a winning record in conference play for the 12th consecutive year. That's the longest streak in the 17-year history of WCC basketball. No other school has had more than six straight seasons over .500.
Broncos Protect Home Court with Perfect 12-0 Season at Leavey
Santa Clara completed the 2001-02 home season at the Leavey Center with a perfect 12-0 mark, becoming only the second team in program history to accomplish the feat. The only other Bronco team to go undefeated at home was the 1990-91 squad, who finished its season 17-0 at Toso Pavilion in the Leavey Activities Center, and 28-3 overall as the WNIT Champions.
Ashbaugh Notches Another Bronco First: 600 Assists
Becki Ashbaugh set the school record for career assists with her first on Thursday night against LMU, surpassing Jennifer Lucas' 13-year old mark of 591. Her ninth and final assist against the Lions made her the first Bronco to notch 600 in a career and only the third in WCC history. She currently has 611. On Feb. 9, her free throw with six seconds remaining against Gonzaga made her only the 13th Bronco to reach the 1,000 point marker, making Ashbaugh the Bronco ever to notch 1,000 point and 500 assists in a career. She currently has 1,050 points and surpassed the 500 assist marker to open conference play. In the WCC, she ranks third all time in assists and is only the second to reach both marks, joining Anja Bordt of Saint Mary's, who notched 1,710 points and 654 assists from 1988-91. With 192 assists this season, Ashbaugh could become the first in Bronco history to notch 200 in one season.
Up Next: The NCAA Selection Show
Santa Clara will gather as a team in two Sundays to find out if it will be heading to the big dance known as the NCAA Tournament. The NCAA selection show will air Sunday, March 10, announcing the 64-team field at 2 p.m. PST. If the Broncos hear their name, it will mark the third berth into the Championship in the last five years.
Broncos Buck Preseason Predictions
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.
The Broncos finished the regular season ahead of Loyola Marymount and tied with preseason favorite Saint Mary's and third selection San Francisco.
Scouting the San Diego Toreros
Series Record: SCU leads 23-15
First Game: Santa Clara won 59-41 on Jan. 4, 1985 in Santa Clara
Last Game: Santa Clara won 70-62 on Jan. 19, 2002 in Santa Clara
Largest SCU Margin of Victory: 37, twice, last on Jan. 31, 1997 (80-43) in Santa Clara
Largest USD Margin of Victory: 17 on Jan. 24, 1990 (80-63) in Santa Clara
USD Record in 2000-2001: 10-16, (5-9, 6th in West Coast Conference)
Letterwinners Returning/Lost: 11/2
Starters Returning/Lost: 3/2
Notable: San Diego is the league's seventh seed after going 4-10 in conference play... overall, the Toreros are 13-14 and will have the home-court advantage in Thursday's contest... like SCU, USD averages more than six three-pointers per game... senior Kerri Nakamoto leads the league in long-distance percentage (47%).
vs. San Diego this Season
Four Broncos reached double figures but it wasn't enough, as Santa Clara fell 76-69 to San Diego on Jan. 16 in San Diego. The Broncos only scored three baskets in the game's last five minutes and took their first loss in league play. The 79 points SCU allowed to the Toreros marked the most by a league opponent in two seasons. The Broncos last allowed that many when LMU notched 83 in an overtime SCU victory on Jan. 28, 2000, a span of 25 games.
The teams traded leads in the first half, but the Broncos struggled to hold on to rebounds and get their offense going. USD's Janeene Arendsen hit three straight three-pointer as USD built up a 10-point lead with two minutes remaining in the first half. Santa Clara countered with two threes of its own by Caroline Gruening and the team pulled within six at the half, 45-39. Gruening added six assists in the period.
The Broncos came out in the second period more controlled and shrunk the deficit to five after two free throw by Becki Ashbaugh, but it could pull no closer. Ashbaugh, Julie Butler and Tammy Annas each finished with 13 points. USD guard Kerri Nakamoto led San Diego with 22 points. She was a perfect 6-6 from the field, including four from three-point range.
Three nights later, four Broncos reached double figures again, but this time the rematch favored the Broncos, with a 70-62 victory at home. Annas led the Broncos with 14 points, while Butler and Ashbaugh added 13 each. Gruening added 11 for the Broncos. The Toreros' Marta Menuez scored a game-high 15 points.
The Bronco defense forced the Toreros into 11 first-half turnovers as SCU hit 51.7 percent of its shots by intermission. Santa Clara led most of the first half, but saw San Diego tie the game at 24-24 with a three-pointer by Arendsen. SCU reclaimed its lead and held a five-point advantage at halftime, 34-29. Additionally, Ashbaugh hit 9-10 free throws in the second half while Gruening was 5-6 from the charity stripe to help the Broncos secure the victory. Kendra Rhea and Jennie Rondel fouled out with about three minutes remaining in the contest.
Three Named to All-WCC Team
Becki Ashbaugh was named to the All-WCC first team, while Caroline Gruening and Tammy Annas received All-WCC honorable mention honors. Ashbaugh's selection marks her third straight from the conference, as she received honorable mention honors from the league the last two seasons. Gruening makes her second straight selection to the conference's honorable mention squad, while Annas' selection marks her first to the league honor roll.
Gruening, Ashbaugh Named to Verizon Academic All-District VIII Teams
Caroline Gruening and Becki Ashbaugh were named to Verizon Academic All-District VIII teams, as announced by CoSIDA. Additionally, Santa Clara was the only University to have two players named on the 15-player listing. Gruening is a Combined Sciences major with a 3.77 GPA, while Ashbaugh carries a 3.59 GPA in Operation Management and Information Systems. In order to be eligible for Academic All-America honors, a student-athlete must have at least a 3.20 cumulative grade point average, be a starter or an important reserve, and be in at least their second season of athletic and academic eligibility at their current school.
Three Broncos Receive WCC All-Academic Honors
Becki Ashbaugh earned her fourth West Coast Conference All-Academic honor, leading a list of three Broncos who earned recognition, the league announced last week. Ashbaugh carries a 3.59 GPA in Operation Management and Information Systems. Joining Ashbaugh is two-time honoree Caroline Gruening, a Combined Sciences major with a 3.77 GPA, and first-time selection Kendra Rhea, a junior forward who is carrying a 3.25 GPA in Electrical Engineering. To be considered, a student-athlete must earn at least a 3.20 cumulative grade point average while also being a significant contributor to his or her team.
Rhea Named WCC Player of the Week
Kendra Rhea was named the WCC's Player of the Week for her play this weekend against conference opponents Pepperdine and LMU. She posted a career-high 21 points in the upset over the Waves, shooting 9-of-13 from the field and also recorded 12 rebounds, one off her career high. Two nights earlier, Rhea paved the way for the Broncos as they defeated Loyola Marymount. For the week, Rhea averaged 13.5 points and eight rebounds.
Live on the Internet
Santa Clara contests at the WCC Tournament can be heard on a live Internet audio broadcast on www.SantaClaraBroncos.com. Additionally, all home contests were followed online with a live statistical tracker, also located on Santa Clara's official athletic website. By logging on, fans could 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.
In the WCC Statistics
Santa Clara leads the league in five categories: scoring offense (75.3 ppg), scoring margin (+6.6), field goal percentage (.430), three-point field goals made (6.59) and assists (17.7). The Broncos are second in free throw percentages (.739) and three-point field goal percentages (.366). Individually, Becki Ashbaugh is tops in assists (7.11) and second in free throw percentage (.871). Caroline Gruening is second in three-point percentage (.451) and fourth in three-point field goals made (2.22). Kendra Rhea is ranked sixth in rebounds (6.7).
Gruening from Downtown
Caroline Gruening has made at least one three-pointer in all but one of the Broncos' 27 games. She only missed out on the Jan. 12 game vs. Portland, one of the few starts Gruening has missed due to illness. She has made 4-5 from long range on four occasions, against San Jose State, at No. 7 Stanford, at USF and vs. regular season league champion Pepperdine. Included in her stats is an incredible 61.5 percent (16-26) for three-point field goals in the month of December and a 50.0 percent clip for February. Overall this season, Gruening is shooting 45.1 percent from the land of plenty (60-133), the second best percentage in the league and 14th best mark in the country.
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 39-16 (.709) 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.