March 18, 2003
Santa Clara (20-10) will head to the Women's National Invitation Tournament for the third time in four seasons, and will face Fresno State in the first round of this year's draw. The Broncos, who have now reached the postseason six consecutive years, will play the Bulldogs (19-12) at the North Gym on Friday, March 21. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.
The game will feature two first-year head coaches, in Santa Clara's Michelle Bento and Fresno State's Stacy Johnson-Klein. Additionally, Bento is a 1992 graduate of Fresno State, and as a player, led the Bulldogs to an appearance in the WNIT in 1990.
Scouting the Fresno State Bulldogs
Series Record: Fresno State leads 16-13
First Meeting: 1977-78 - FSU won (62-55)
Last Meeting: 2002- FSU won (62-55) Dec. 4 in Santa Clara
FSU Largest Margin of Victory: 23 on Dec. 13, 1988 (83-60) in Fresno
SCU Largest Margin of Victory: 36 on Dec. 28, 1997 (86-50) in Santa Clara
FSU Record: 19-12 (11-7, Western Athletic Conference)
Notable: Fresno State has reached the post season for the first time since 1990... the Bulldogs will be hosting their first post-season game ever... FSU is 2-4 all-time in the WNIT... Fresno State's overall record represents a 10-game improvement from last season's 9-20 mark... the 'Dogs are one game away from reaching its first 20-win season since 1989-90... FSU reached the championship game of the Western Athletic Conference Tournament on Saturday, falling to sixth-ranked Louisiana Tech 88-57... senior forward Omelogo Udeze is an All-WAC Second Team honoree and leads the Bulldogs in scoring (12.9 ppg) and rebounding (9.0 rpg)... forward Tiffany Simon earned a spot on the All-WAC Defensive Team... the Bulldogs spoiled Santa Clara's home opener with a 62-55 victory on December 4 at the Leavey Center the last time these two teams met... that victory gave FSU only its second three-game win streak since the 1998-99 season.
Advancing in the WNIT
The winner of the Santa Clara/Fresno State match will play the winner of the Oregon State/UNLV contest. The second round match will take place March 22-24. The quarterfinals will be March 25-27, with the final four teams meeting for the semifinal game March 29-31 and the final on April 2-4. The event involves 32 teams in a single elimination format. All games, including the semifinals and championship, will be hosted by participating schools at their home facility.
SCU in the WNIT
Santa Clara won the WNIT in its first appearance back in 1991, defeating Indiana in the championship game. The Broncos are 3-2 all-time at the Invitational, falling to Southern California in the first round of the 2000 draw and to Hawaii in 2001.
WNIT Ticket Information
Fresno State will start selling tickets for Friday's game on Tuesday at 9 a.m. Reserved seating in chairbacks will be $12, while general admission is $8. College students, seniors, and children six and over are $5.
Rhea Named WCC Tournament MVP
Senior forward Kendra Rhea was honored by women's basketball media covering the West Coast Conference Tournament last weekend with the MVP award. Rhea, a Lakeside, Calif., native, played her final league championship near her hometown in San Diego. With family and friends on hand, Rhea averaged 11.7 points per game, 8.3 rebounds per contest.
Four Starters Named to All-WCC Squads
Four starters were named to the All-West Coast Conference teams, the league announced prior to the NCAA Tournament. Senior forward Julie Butler and sophomore guard Kayla Huss were named first-team selections. Senior forward Kendra Rhea and sophomore guard Quinn Thomas were honorable mention honorees.
Annas, Rhea Earn WCC All-Academic Honors
Tammy Annas and Kendra Rhea were named to the West Coast Conference Winter All-Academic Team, which honors some of the league's finest examples of the consummate scholar-athlete. To be considered, a student-athlete must earn at least a 3.20 cumulative grade point average, be a starter or important reserve with legitimate athletic credentials, and have sophomore athletic and academic standing. Rhea was also named to the WCC All-Academic team as a junior.
Broncos Record Another Top Three Finish
Santa Clara finished the regular season tied for second in the WCC standings. It marks the 13th straight season that the Broncos have finished in the top three in the standings.
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 9-5 on the road this season.
Leading the WCC
Santa Clara leads the West Coast Conference in four categories: field goal percentage (.457), assists (18.37), assist/turnover ratio (0.91) and three-point field goals made (6.37), while ranking second in five other categories: scoring offense, scoring margin, free throw percentage, three-point field goal percentage and steals. Santa Clara is one of the conference's most balanced teams, with six players averaging six or more points per game.
Santa Clara is the only women's basketball team in the WCC to finish in the top three in the conference for 13 straight seasons. The second longest streak is six, which Pepperdine is currently amid, and Saint Mary's who accomplished the feat from 1997-2002.
Live on the Internet
Anthony Passarelli returns as the voice of the Broncos for a second season, and will broadcast live on the Internet through the WNIT. Santa Clara has been offering a live audio broadcast for the third straight season on SantaClaraBroncos.com.
Huss, Thomas Leads the Backcourt
Sophomores Kayla Huss and Quinn Thomas have stepped into the starting lineup and helped fill the void created by the graduation of All-WCC standouts Becki Ashbaugh and Caroline Gruening. Thomas, the only freshman to garner WCC Player of the Week honors last season, has more than doubled her scoring output (from 4.5 ppg to 11.4), while boosting her rebounding average and field goal percentage. Her success led her to the Dec. 16 WCC Player of the Week honors, the first for any Bronco this season. Huss leads the team in assists and three-point field goal percentage, while pouring in 11.0 points per contest.
Until the Feb. 8 game at San Diego, Santa Clara was 5-0 when reaching double figures in three-point field goals made. Down 17 at the half, the Broncos hit 10 three-pointers in the final 20 minutes but could not pull out a victory. The team is currently hitting .352 from behind the arc. Kayla Huss is ranked second in the WCC--and 10th in the nation--with her .444 accuracy, while backcourt partner Quinn Thomas is right behind her with a .422 mark for third in league, 24th in the NCAA. Both hit six threes during that contest against the Toreros, and tied for fourth in SCU recordbooks for most threes by an individual in a single game.
Thomas' first three of the WCC Tournament gave her 69 for the season, moving her into third place on SCU's all-time single season record for three-point field goals made. She finished the weekend 77 and is now second on the list, two ahead of Caroline Gruening's mark, set last season. Julie Lienert set the standard during the 1990-91 season with 89 baskets from behind the arc.