March 15, 2005
Santa Clara University women's basketball program has advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the sixth time overall with Sunday's selection to the 2005 Championships. As the Kansas City Region's 15th seed, Santa Clara will open the tournament against second-seeded Stanford. The game will air live on ESPN2 on Saturday at approximately 7:30 p.m. Pacific Time.
The Broncos earned one of 31 automatic berths after winning the West Coast Conference Championship with a 77-66 victory over No. 23 Gonzaga last Sunday, and watched the selection show as a team in the Leavey Center's University Suite. The Broncos were the last team announced in the bracket, and will travel to Fresno State University's Save Mart Center, one of eight hosts of the first two rounds. The winner of that contest will face the winner of the Iowa State/Utah game in the second round for the right to advance to the Sweet 16.
On the Stanford Cardinal
Stanford is 29-2 overall and riding the second longest win streak in the nation, at 20 games. The Cardinal is ranked tops in the nation and won the Pac-10 Tournament last weekend in San Jose. The team is led by freshman Candice Wiggins, the league's Player of the Year, who averages 17.3 points per game and 5.4 rebounds per contest.
Santa Clara is 11-25 all-time against the Cardinal, with these two teams last meeting during the 2001-02 season.
Mountain View native and Bronco sophomore guard Yasemin Kimyacioglu will face her sister when these two teams meet in the first round, as Sebnem is a senior forward on the Cardinal squad. Additionally, Bronco redshirt sophomore guard Lauren Michalski will face her best friend, Cardinal junior center Brooke Smith. Both attended Marin Catholic High School. In a connection with the host institution, head coach Michelle Bento-Jackson is a 1992 alumna of Fresno State University.
The official Bronco travel party will be staying at the Holiday Inn Airport. The phone number is 559-252-3611. The hotel is approximately 15 minutes away from the Save Mart Center.
Santa Clara's school colors are Red and White. Stanford also boasts the same colors. With host Fresno State's school colors also including red, resulting in more than 16,000 red seats at the Save Mart Center, fans at this particular NCAA First Round game will be amid a sea of Red.
Tickets on Sale
NCAA tickets are on sale through the Department of Athletics' ticket office at 408-554-4660, between the hours of 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. Tickets are $25 to sit in the Bronco section of the arena. A youth price is available, but only for general admission seating. The ticket price is also only for the session that the Broncos are competing in.
The Rest of the Field
LSU tops the bracket as the overall No. 1 seed after going undefeated in Southeastern Conference play en route to its first regular-season conference title in school history. Tennessee, Michigan State and North Carolina round out the remaining No. 1 seeds.
The Atlantic Coast Conference placed the most teams in the championship bracket with seven, followed the Big 12 Conference with six. The 16, second-round winners will advance to the four regional sites: Chattanooga, Tenn., Tempe, Ariz., Kansas City, Mo., and Philadelphia, Pa. The four regional winners will meet in the NCAA Women's Final Four, April 3 and 5, at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis.
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).
Regarding RPI, which is based on winning percentage, schedule strength and opponent schedule strength, Santa Clara is rated 107th, second best in the league, and the WCC is listed 13th.
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 Feb. 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 San Francisco and Gonzaga during the WCC Tournament.
Playing the Nation's Best
The Bronco program is known to play a tough schedule on a regular basis, and this year's is no exception. The Broncos faced three top-25 teams in a 15-day span during non-conference play, taking on 13th-ranked Michigan State and No. 3 Georgia at the Rainbow Wahine Classic, and following with a contest against No. 16 Minnesota. Additionally, another non-conference opponent, UW-Green Bay, is now ranked in the Associated Press poll. League foe Gonzaga was ranked 23rd during the WCC Tournament and the Broncos' next challenge is No. 1 Stanford in the NCAA First Round.
The Broncos have made two live television appearances this season: Jan. 12, with a 15-point victory over rival Saint Mary's on Fox Sports Network and March 6, with an 11-point victory over No. 23 Gonzaga on FSN for the WCC Tournament title. Santa Clara will be featured on ESPN2 on March 19 for the NCAA First Round contest against top-ranked Stanford.