Feb. 26, 2003
Santa Clara will take its longest road trip of the conference season as its final outing of the regular-season schedule. The Broncos will visit Gonzaga on Thursday, Feb. 27 and then close out play at Portland on Saturday, March 1. The Bulldogs have been the surprise of the WCC this season, and are currently in third place. Every win is important as league teams fight for a top-four seed.
The Race is On
It's the final weekend of the WCC season, and teams are scrambling to secure seeds in the upcoming Tournament. Pepperdine captured its second straight regular season title last weekend, and has claim to the top seed in the tournament. Santa Clara holds a one-game lead over Gonzaga for the coveted second seed. The new tournament format rewards league play by giving the top two seeds byes through the first two rounds. No matter what happens this weekend, the Broncos can finish no lower than third, ensuring themselves of at least a first-round bye. Two wins will lock down the No. 2 seed.
Welcome to "Washington South"
With seven players on this year's roster from the state of Washington, the mission campus is becoming known as "Washington South." The Broncos returned seven of the eight Washington natives from last season in seniors Tammy Annas of Enumclaw, Julie Butler of Tacoma and Courtney Cushing of Brush Prairie, as well as junior Jennie Rondel of Kirkland, and last year's entire recruiting class, Kim Butler of Tacoma, Quinn Thomas of Kent and Kayla Huss of Everett.
Scouting the Gonzaga Bulldogs
Series Record: SCU leads 24-8
First Game: Gonzaga won 59-45 on Jan. 16, 1988 in Spokane
Last Game: Santa Clara won 65-41 on Feb. 1, 2003 in Santa Clara
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
Notable: Gonzaga's win last week secured the Zags' first winning WCC season since 1994... Ashley Burke was named the league's player of the week after scoring 29 points against Portland.
Scouting the Portland Pilots
Series Record: SCU leads 19-18
First Game: Santa Clara won 62-59 on Jan. 5, 1987 in Santa Clara
Last Game: Santa Clara won 94-90 on Jan. 30, 2003 in Santa Clara
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
Notable: Portland is 7-5 at home, vs. 3-10 on the road, and will therefore be more comfortable closing the season at the Chiles Centre.
After posting a 5-8 record on the road last season-with five of those losses to WCC teams-the Broncos have shown this year that being away from the comforts of the Leavey Center has been less of an issue. Santa Clara is currently 8-4 on the road this season and has won three road games in league play. The Broncos close out league play with five of seven contests away from home.
Leading the WCC
Santa Clara leads the West Coast Conference in two categories: field goal percentage (.457) and assists (18.52), while ranking second in six other categories: scoring offense, scoring margin, free throw percentage, three-point field goal percentage, steals, and three-point field goals made. Santa Clara is one of the conference's most balanced teams, with six players averaging six or more points per game.
Live on the Internet
Santa Clara's schedule returns to the Internet, as a live audio broadcast will be available for a third season on SantaClaraBroncos.com. Additionally, Leavey Center contests can be followed online with a live statistical tracker, also located on SCU's official athletic website. By logging on, fans 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. Anthony Passarelli returns as the voice of the Broncos for a second season.
Up Next: The WCC Tournament
Santa Clara will return to San Diego for the third year in a row to close out season play. The West Coast Conference Tournament will be held at the Jenny Craig Pavilion on the University of San Diego campus March 6-9.
WCC Changes Tournament Format
The West Coast Conference Tournament will adopt a new format for the 2003 Championship, consisting of an eight-team/ play-in format. Under the new format, the fifth through eighth seeds will compete in the opening round. Waiting for the winners in the quarterfinals will be the third and fourth seeds, who will have first-round byes. The winners of the quarterfinal match-ups will go head-to-head with the top two seeds, who will have byes through the first two rounds of the tournament. "This format places a premium on regular season success and should lead to a very competitive regular season race in 2003." Commissioner Michael Gilleran said.
The Butler sisters, senior Julie and sophomore Kim, are one of three sibling pairs to compete in the West Coast Conference. The Butlers are joined by Loyola Marymount's Bianca and Rachael Ziemann and Portland's Khalila and Cecily O'Rielly-Williams. Additionally, SCU has also faced sisters at Texas A&M, San Jose State and Eastern Michigan.
Top Offensive Performance
The 94 points Santa Clara scored against Portland on Jan. 30 marked the highest point total in the West Coast Conference against a league team this season.
Senior Julie Butler leads the conference in field goal percentage, with a 51.5 percentage, while sophomore Kayla Huss is second in the league in three-point field goal percentage, with a 45 percent mark, and in assists, with 5.29 per game. Just counting WCC contests, senior Julie Butler leads in field goal percentage, with a 56.6 percent mark, while Huss is tops in dishing the rock, averaging 5.67 assists per game. Sophomore Quinn Thomas leads the league in three-point field goals made, averaging 2.67 per outing.