Santa Clara Begins Second Half of WCC Play This Weekend

Jan. 31, 2006

SANTA CLARA, Calif. - With half of the conference schedule out of the way, the Santa Clara women's basketball team is sitting in a good position with five wins against two losses and in a tie for second place in the WCC. This weekend the Broncos get a chance to solidify their standing in the WCC's first division as they host Pacific Northwest foes Gonzaga and Portland this weekend at the Leavey Center.

A good sign for Santa Clara (11-9, 5-2 WCC) on this current four-game winning streak has been that the half-court defense and rebounding, two aspects of the game that SCU struggled in early on, have greatly improved and been crucial factors in the Bronco fortunes. Santa Clara has out-rebounded four of their last six opponents and a few different Broncos have been stepping up at any given time.

"Road wins are always an important thing and I thought we really found ways to win in both of our games this past weekend," said head coach Michelle Bento-Jackson. "We haven't been as strong offensively these past couple of games, however our half-court defense continues to improve every game."

Michelle Cozad continues to pace the Broncos and the WCC with 18.1 points and 9.8 rebounds a game, along with 54 three-pointers made. She also posted her conference-leading 10th and 11th double-doubles of the season last weekend in wins over San Francisco and San Diego.

Fellow senior Kayla Huss came through in crunch time last Saturday, as her 12 second-half points and seven in the final four minutes of the 67-63 win over San Diego helped the Broncos stave off a Torero rally late in the game.

Kasey Monteith and Anna Martin have also been major contributors in SCU's recent string of successes. Monteith's physical play down low led to her first-career double-double Saturday as she scored 12 points and grabbed a career-high 11 rebounds against the Toreros, a showing which followed a solid eight-point, nine-rebound effort at San Francisco.

Martin is averaging 5.0 rebounds a game in conference play, including a career-high 10 at San Francisco on Thursday night. The steady play and effort of multiple Broncos has enabled the team to put together a complete effort and keep defenses off-balance.

This weekend Santa Clara will be looking to avenge their 70-60 conference-opening loss as they welcome the Gonzaga Bulldogs (10-12, 5-2) to the Leavey Center Thursday night for a 7 p.m. contest. The Bulldogs are coming off of a 67-60 victory over Pacific Northwest rival Portland last weekend. Ashley Anderson was named WCC Co-Player of the Week after scoring 24 points and pulling down 11 rebounds in the win. She is averaging 17.7 points and 9.9 rebounds in conference play.

"We definitely did not give them one of our better performances when we played at their place at the beginning of the season," Bento-Jackson said about the first meeting with Gonzaga. "Since then we've been much more consistent with our effort and intensity and I feel we've made great strides since the first time that we played them and I definitely think it is going to be a challenge for us, however we expect to give a much better performance."

The Pilots (4-16, 1-6 WCC) dropped a 67-60 decision to the Gonzaga Bulldogs last weekend and will come into the Leavey Center for a Saturday afternoon contest at 2 p.m. Whitney Grant scored 25 points in the loss to the Zags, and leads the Pilots with 15.7 points a game. On Jan. 8, the Broncos came back from an 18-point deficit to defeat the Pilots 74-73 on a running jumper from Ashley Graham in the final minute. Graham also scored a career-high 33 points and hit a conference-record nine three-pointers in the game.

Tickets for both games are available by calling (408) 554-4660, and Bronco fans may listen to the action live on Broncos All-Access as Anthony Passarelli will handle the play-by-play duties. The action can also be followed as it happens with Gametracker here on www.santaclarabroncos.com.