March 10, 2005

Broncos Await NCAA Selection Show on Sunday

March 10, 2005

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SCU Wins WCC Championship
Santa Clara won the West Coast Conference tournament, besting top-seed Gonzaga 77-66 in the final, and therefore earns the league's automatic bid into the NCAA's 24th Annual Division I Women's Basketball Championship. First and Second Rounds will be played at eight sites. March 19 and 21 competition is in Dallas, Fresno, Minneapolis and Seattle, while March 22 and 22 sites are Chapel Hill, N.C.; College Park, Md.; Knoxville, Tenn.; and Storrs, Conn.

Selection Sunday
The Broncos will find out which of the eight sites they will be sent to when the NCAA announces the 64-team bracket on Sunday. The Selection Show will air live at 2 p.m. Pacific Time on ESPN. Santa Clara will gather as a team, and will be joined by Bronco staff and Santa Clara fans throughout the community. The event will take place in the Athletic Department's University Suite, located on the third floor of the Leavey Center.

Bronco History in Hosting the Tournament
Santa Clara hosted the WCC Basketball Championships for the 10th time overall, and for the second consecutive season. All three of the Broncos' tournament championships have come as the host school, in 1992, '98 and now 2005.

A Return to the Top 3 in WCC Standings
In 2003-04, Santa Clara's 4-10 WCC record marked the first time in 13 years that the Broncos did not finish the conference season at or above .500. With the regular season concluded, the Broncos successfully returned to the top three of league's standings.

Thomas Leads All-WCC Honors
Quinn Thomas was named a First Team All-West Coast Conference honoree for the second straight season. Michelle Cozad and Kayla Huss were named to the honorable mention team, and Chandice Cronk received recognition to the All-Freshman squad. Ashley Graham was named WCC All-Academic.

Nationally Speaking
Santa Clara is averaging 8.8 three-point field goals per contest, third best in the NCAA, is ranked 14th in accuracy (.375), and is also ranked 22nd in both scoring average (72.1) and free throw percentage (.752). Individually, Quinn Thomas is ranked 13th in three-point field goals made per game (2.7) and Michelle Cozad is ranked 20th in free throw percentage (.856).

Three-Point Game
Santa Clara's offense is focused on long ball, as the Broncos are averaging 8.8 three-point field goals made per outing, a .375 clip over the season. Quinn Thomas has netted 64 and Michelle Cozad and Ashley Graham are right behind at 51. The Broncos have historically led the WCC in this category, and surpassed their own WCC record of 200 treys in a single season at Saint Mary's on Jan. 12 and now have 263 on the year. Last season they also broke the league record for threes made during conference play. Regarding single-game team bests, in November, Santa Clara made 13 at Hawaii, tying a program record for a game and setting a Rainbow Wahine Classic new mark. In mid-December, Santa Clara topped that with 14 at Wisconsin, also an opponent record for the Badgers. The Broncos matched that effort on Dec. 30 with 14 threes against Portland State, and again against LMU and Gonzaga during the WCC Tournament.

Leading the WCC
Santa Clara leads the league in scoring offense (72.1), three-point field goals made per game (8.8), three-point field goal percentage (.375) and is one of only two league teams with a positive turnover margin (2.4). Individually, Quinn Thomas is sixth (14.0) in scoring, followed by Michelle Cozad in seventh (12.8) and Ashley Graham in 20th (9.2). Graham leads the league in three-point field goal percentage (.455) is third in three-point field goals made (1.8), while ranking sixth in assists (2.8) and is the only guard in the top 10 in field goal percentage (.479), listed eighth. Thomas leads the league in three-point field goals made (2.7), is second in steals (2.3), fifth in three-point field goal percentage (.372) and eighth in assists (2.5). Additionally, she is the only guard in the top 15 in rebounding, listed 11th with a 5.0 average. Cozad is tops in free throw percentage (.856), second in three-point field goal percentage (.432) and fifth in three-point field goals made (1.7). Kayla Huss is ranked fifth in assists (3.5) and second in assist/turnover ratio (1.4). Ashley Gonnerman is sixth in blocks (0.8).

WCC Final: Santa Clara 77, Gonzaga 66
(AP) - Michelle Cozad scored 22 points and Santa Clara beat Gonzaga 77-66 on Sunday, snapping the nation's longest winning streak at 23 games and winning the West Coast Conference tournament. The No. 23 Bulldogs trailed by as many as 25 before making a late run against the Broncos. Santa Clara won the program's third WCC title and first since 1998. Ashley Graham had 17 points, all in the first half, and Quinn Thomas added 14 points and six rebounds for Santa Clara, which tied a school record with 14 3-pointers. It is the fourth time this season the Broncos have made 14 3s in a game.

Ashley Burke scored 28 points and had eight rebounds for Gonzaga, which didn't have WCC player of the year Shannon Mathews in the starting lineup because of a right ankle sprain.

Santa Clara led by 14 at halftime then opened the second half with a 20-9 run to take control for good. Thomas made three 3-pointers during the stretch and the Broncos opened a 66-41 lead. Santa Clara stretched the advantage to 71-48 before going scoreless the next six minutes. Gonzaga responded with a 14-0 run to pull within nine points, but couldn't get closer.

Graham hadn't reached double figures since Jan. 8 but she had three 3-pointers and made three free throws during a 21-9 run in the first half that gave the Broncos a 37-26 lead.

WCC Semifinal: Santa Clara 73, Loyola Marymount 64
Santa Clara advanced into the championship game of the WCC Tournament and a match-up with Gonzaga after a 73-64 victory over Loyola Marymount. The Broncos fell behind by three at the half, but gained a 40-39 lead with 14:40 left and never trailed throughout the rest of the contest. Michelle Cozad scored a game-high 23 points, while Kayla Huss had 16.

Jacqueline Woods attempted to keep LMU in the contest with eight points during a three-minute span before fouling out with 1:17 remaining. Cozad scored a missed free throw by Tori Markey to give Santa Clara a double-digit at 55-44 with 5:34 left in the game. A five-point spurt by Woods brought LMU to within 57-48 of SCU with 3:50 left.

A basket by Cozad gave SCU a 51-42 lead with 7:54 remaining. Santa Clara gained its first lead of the second half at 40-39 on a jumper by Cozad. A Quinn Thomas three-point play gave SCU a 43-39 edge with 13:24 left. The Broncos extended their lead to six on a driving lay-up by Huss.

A close first half saw Loyola Marymount hold a 33-30 edge over Santa Clara. SCU fell behind by eight at 19-11, but moved within two of the Lions at 30-28 with 2:39 left in the half. LMU would increase its margin to 33-28 on a Mary Turner bucket. Cozad free throws brought SCU to within three at the end of the half.

WCC First Round: Santa Clara 90, San Francisco 49
Chandice Cronk scored a game-high 22 points to lead the Broncos to a 90-49 win over San Francisco in the opening round of the WCC Championship Thursday night. The Broncos took a 50-20 lead into the locker room at half and never looked back. Several WCC Championship records fell in the game between the two Bay Area rivals: most points scored in a single game (90), largest margin of victory (41) and the threes in a game (14).

Santa Clara's intensity defensively resulted in easy transition baskets at the beginning of the game that forced San Francisco to call an early time-out. The Broncos opened the game on an 8-2 run and did not slow down as they held a 30-point lead at the half.

Cronk led the Broncos in the first half with 15 points on 5-of-5 shooting from the floor, including 3-for-3 from beyond the arc. Michelle Cozad chipped in 10 first-half points. As a team, Santa Clara was 8-for-11 from three in the first half and 14-for-25 in the game. USF shot just 17.6 percent from the field as a team.

Programs Complete SMC Sweep
The Broncos' 70-55 victory on Saturday night marked the fourth time in the last 10 years, and seventh overall, that Santa Clara women's basketball has swept the Gaels during the regular season. In each of those seasons (1994-95, 1999-2000, 2002-03, 2004-05) the Bronco men's basketball program also swept Saint Mary's, providing a complete basketball sweep.

Another Connection with Bronco Men's Program
The biggest upset of the season for Santa Clara men's basketball occurred when the Broncos upset No. 4 North Carolina at the Pete Newell Challenge in Oakland on Nov. 19. Final Score: Santa Clara 77, Tar Heels 66. The Bronco women matched that score perfectly in their biggest upset of the season, stopping Gonzaga's 23-game win streak to win the WCC Tournament on March 6.

Breakfast Club
Santa Clara began a new tradition this season with the Breakfast Club, a gathering held monthly and hosted by head coach Michelle Bento-Jackson. The energized group meetings are held at The Hungry Hound restaurant near campus, with Bento-Jackson briefing the guests on current program events and over a continental breakfast. The final event of the season will be March 14. Cost is $6 per person and the event is held from 7 to 8 a.m.