April 20, 2004
Jennie Rondel was named the team's Most Outstanding Player, one of many awards handed out at the Santa Clara University women's basketball annual banquet April 18 at Mondo Burrito Restaurant. Yasemin Kimyacioglu was named the team's Best Defensive Player while also receiving the Coaches' Award. Ashley Graham and Kasey Monteith were honored with Most Improved Player awards, while Jenni Gottschalk was named Ms. Spark Plug, and Anna Martin received the Christine Silvernail Award, a recognition given to the athlete that "best embodies what it means to be a Bronco."
"I want to send much thanks to everybody," Rondel said later in the evening, as she and Whitney Sutak were being recognized as the team's graduating seniors. "The support from our dedicated fans has been wonderful. You have touched our hearts and we will remember you forever."
Broncos Host WCC Tournament
The West Coast Conference Women's Championships returned to the Bay Area, as Santa Clara hosted the tournament for the eighth time. Jennie Rondel earned All-Tournament Team honors after back-to-back games against San Francisco and Pepperdine in which she set personal best marks in scoring. Loyola Marymount went on to win the league crown, topping Gonzaga.
Broncos Set Three New Tournament Records
Santa Clara set three single-game records at the West Coast Conference Championships. In the opener against San Francisco, the Broncos went 27-44 from the field to set a new mark for field goal accuracy, shooting 61.4 percent. The Broncos bested their own record in that category, topping the .596 mark the program set against Portland in the 1993 semifinals. Against Pepperdine the following afternoon, Santa Clara went 13-31 from three-point range, setting new records for most threes made and attempted in a single game. The previous marks were 11 and 28, respectively.
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.
Thomas' Sets Career Three-Point FG Made Record
Junior guard Quinn Thomas has made 161 career three-pointers, setting a new mark in Bronco history. Her 158th surpassed Julie Lienert's 13-year 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 led the league in three-point field goals made per game, averaging 2.28. She posted a 35.6 percentage from long range, ranked eighth in the conference. She also ranked ninth in the WCC for all-time three-pointers made.
Team Three-Point Perfection
On Feb. 26 against Gonzaga, Santa Clara made 11 threes and broke the WCC season record for three-pointers made during conference play. SCU finished at 96, besting the 1999-2000 Zags' former record at 88. For threes in an overall season, Santa Clara made 200, six better than the record set by Pepperdine in 1997-98.
Santa Clara ranked 23rd nationally in three-pointers per game, averaging 6.9 per contest. In other statistics, the Broncos led the WCC in three-point field goals made per game (6.90), three-point field goal percentage (.354) and assists (14.14), while ranking second in field goal percentage (.418) and three-point field goal percent defense (.324). Individually, Jennie Rondel ranked fifth in field goal percentage (.483) and eighth in scoring (11.5). Quinn Thomas led the league in three-point field goals made (2.28), and was eighth in three-point percentage (.356), and 14th in scoring (10.5). Ashley Graham ranked first in three-point percentage (.452), fourth in three-point field goals made (1.79) and fourth in assists (3.72). Whitney Sutak ranked 15th in field goal percentage (.400) and Jenni Gottschalk 16th in rebounding (4.8).
A Fountain of Youth
Santa Clara was one of the top 15 youngest women's basketball teams that took the court this season. With six freshmen, two sophomores, three juniors and two seniors, the Broncos' average age was 19.4 years heading into the season.
Thomas Lights Up Court on Birthday
Quinn Thomas celebrated her 21st birthday on the court against San Diego State on January 6 as a key player in one of the biggest comebacks for the team this season. The squad 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.
Santa Clara's victory over San Francisco on Jan. 10 marked the fifth straight West Coast Conference opener the Broncos have won. Regarding home league openers, SCU increased that streak to eight on Jan. 22, with another victory over the Dons.
Santa Clara's loss to UW-Green Bay marked only the third season-opening loss for the Bronco program in the last 13 years. It also broke a streak of five-straight season-opening victories. The Sunday contest was also the first season in the last six that the Broncos have opened their season at home.
Sutak Turns it On against Ducks
On Dec. 15, Whitney Sutak netted 20 points on 9-14 shooting against 21st-ranked Oregon. The performance matched her career high, which was set last season against none-other-than the Ducks. On the Dec. 15, 2002 meeting in Eugene, Sutak came off the bench at hit 8-13 from the field, including three three-pointers, as the Broncos won 88-79.
Broncos Give Georgia a Scare
It took 21 points and 12 rebounds from Georgia junior center Kara Braxton to help the No. 10 Lady Bulldogs turn back an upset bid in a 77-65 victory over host Santa Clara on Nov. 28. Michelle Cozad scored 15 of her 22 points in the first half, while Whitney Sutak had 13 and Jennie Rondel added 10.
With a 37-28 halftime deficit, Sutak sparked a 13-2 run that gave Santa Clara a 58-56 lead with 6:54 remaining. The senior guard scored seven points during the run, including a key three-pointer. "We were right there until the final minute," said Bronco Coach Michelle Bento-Jackson. "Their big kids really hurt us and made some tough shots. We were just beating ourselves in the last two minutes."
Four lead changes later, Christi Thomas put the Bulldogs ahead for good with a short jumper with 4:15 to play. The game remained in doubt into the final minute. Sherrill Baker, who finished with 11 points, made a steal and basket to help secure the victory. Georgia outscored Santa Clara 16-3 in the final four minutes to pull away.
Live on the Internet
Santa Clara's entire schedule returned to the Internet, as a live audio broadcast was available for a third season on www.SantaClaraBroncos.com. Additionally, Leavey Center contests could be followed online with a live statistical tracker, also located on SCU's official athletic website. By logging on, fans received 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 returned as the voice of the Broncos for a third season.
WCC Tournament to Return to Santa Clara
League Commissioner Michael Gilleran announced in early April that the WCC Basketball Championship will return to the Leavey Center on the Santa Clara University campus in 2005. The 14th annual women's tournament will take place March 3-6, while the 19th annual men's event will be played March 4-7.
The 2005 edition was originally slated to be held in War Memorial Gym at the University of San Francisco. However, the Dons are unable to host the event due to construction delays on major renovations to the facility.
"We're excited about heading back to Santa Clara for a second year," Gilleran said. "Cheryl Levick and her staff did an exceptional job of hosting the 2004 event and created an enjoyable environment for both the student-athletes and WCC basketball fans."
In 2002, the league voted to rotate the championship site regionally. After SCU hosts in 2005, the two-year Bay Area rotation will be complete and the WCC tournament will move to the Pacific Northwest in 2006 and '07. The 2008 and '09 tournaments will be held in Southern California.
"We are pleased that we could step in and host this event for the second-straight year," said Levick, SCU's Director of Athletics and Recreation. "The league basketball championships are a premier event for our institution and our local community. We look forward to having everyone back in the Leavey Center in March 2005."