March 2, 2004
The West Coast Conference Women's Championships returns to the Bay Area this week. Santa Clara will host the tournament for the eighth time, most recently in 2000. Saint Mary's and San Diego will open the tournament on Thursday at noon. As the sixth seed, the Broncos (8-19, 4-10) will also play in the first round, against San Francisco (10-16, 3-10). Pepperdine and Portland received first-round byes, while top-seeded Loyola Marymount and Gonzaga earned automatic berths into the semifinals.
SCU Tournament Success
Santa Clara has advanced to the semifinals in five of the last six tournaments and will look to continue its recent success. Although host schools have only won two of the 12 conference tournaments, Santa Clara is the only school to accomplish this feat, hosting and winning the 1992 and 1998 Championships.
Scouting the San Francisco Dons
Series Record: SCU leads 34-30
First Game: Santa Clara won (47-23) in 1964-65
Last Game: Santa Clara won (75-45) on Jan. 22, 2004 in Santa Clara
Largest SCU Margin of Victory: 27, on Feb. 3, 1999 (91-64) in San Francisco
Largest USF Margin of Victory: 37 on Dec. 1, 1979 (74-37) in San Francisco
San Francisco Record in 2002-03: 12-17 (7-7)
Letterwinners Returning/Lost: 11/1
Starters Returning/Lost: 5/0
Notable: Santa Clara swept the season series, with a one-point margin of victory on the Hill Top and a 30-point win at Leavey, both in January. USF has won only once at the Leavey Center since 1997, after recording a two-point victory over SCU last year.
Thomas' Two Threes Away from Setting Career Record
Junior guard Quinn Thomas currently has made 156 career three-pointers, and needs just two more to set a new mark, passing Julie Lienert's record of 157, set from 1988-91. Thomas had the hot hand from long range in January, hitting 50 percent from three-point land. Her third trey at Portland on Jan. 31 marked the 142nd of her career, putting Thomas solely in second place in the Bronco recordbooks. She surpassed former teammate and 2002 graduate Becki Ashbaugh, who was actually in attendance that night, as she drove up from the University of Oregon, where she is currently attending law school. Thomas leads the league in three-point field goals made per game, averaging 2.26. She has a 34.5 percentage from long range, ranked eighth in the conference.
Team Three-Point Perfection
On Thursday against Gonzaga, Santa Clara made 11 threes and broke the WCC season record for three-pointers made during conference play. SCU is currently at 96, besting the 1999-2000 Zags' former record at 88. For threes in an overall season, Santa Clara is currently at 193 made, one shy of the record set by Pepperdine in 1997-98.
Santa Clara is ranked 31st nationally in three-pointers per game, averaging 6.6 per contest. In other statistics, the Broncos lead the WCC in three-point field goals made per game (6.78) and three-point field goal percentage (.347), while ranking second in field goal percentage (.414) and assists (14.33). Individually, Quinn Thomas and Jennie Rondel are ranked 10th, averaging 10.5 per game. Thomas also tops in three-point field goals made (2.26), ninth in three-point percentage (.347) and 12th in steals (1.43). Rondel is also ranked seventh in field goal percentage (.471), while Ashley Graham is first in three-point percentage (.450), third in three-point field goals made (1.81) and fifth in assists (3.67). Whitney Sutak is ranked sixth in three-point field goal percentage (.362), 13th in field goal percentage (.404) and 24th in scoring (8.3).
Four Earn All-WCC Recognition
Quinn Thomas was named a first team All-West Coast Conference honoree, while Jennie Rondel earned honorable mention honors, and Ashley Graham and Tori Markey earned spots on the All-Freshmen team.
Broncos Finish Below .500 for First Time in 13 Years
Santa Clara's 4-10 WCC record marks the first time in 13 years that the Broncos did not finish the conference season at or above .500.
After a perfect 12-0 season at the Leavey Center in 2001-02, Santa Clara's 12 home losses of the 2003-04 season are not being taken lightly. Defeats to UW-Green Bay, No. 10 Georgia and BYU marked the first time the Broncos had lost three home games to start the season since 1977-78, when SCU finished 4-20. In the 25 seasons the program has been playing at the Leavey Center, the women have only lost 12 home games on one other occasion, during the 1988-89 campaign, when the Broncos went 5-12 at home.
A Fountain of Youth
Santa Clara is one of the top 15 youngest women's basketball teams that is taking the court this season. With six freshmen, two sophomores, three juniors and two seniors, the Broncos' average age is 19.4 years heading into the season.
Thomas Lights Up Court on Birthday
Junior guard Quinn Thomas celebrated her 21st birthday on the court against San Diego State. The team found itself down 18 points in the second half, but a Bronco run, capped by a Thomas three, erased the deficit and gave SCU a 60-59 lead. Later, again, with the Broncos' down, Thomas hit a baseline three with 18.3 seconds on the clock, which served to be the game-winner. The gift of victory isn't the first for this Capricorn. Last season, the Broncos played TCU on her special day, and saw a 23-point, 5-rebound performance to lead the Broncos.
Live on the Internet
Santa Clara's entire schedule returns to the Internet, as a live audio broadcast will be available for a third season on www.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 third season.