February 2, 2007

Women's Hoops Takes on Saint Mary's Saturday Night

Feb. 2, 2007

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SANTA CLARA, Calif. - The Santa Clara women's basketball team takes to the court Saturday night to face off against the rival Saint Mary's Gaels at 7 p.m. After capturing an 84-71 win in Moraga in the West Coast Conference opener, the Broncos will look to complete the sweep of the Gaels for the third year in a row. With a win, the Broncos can also solidify their standing in the top half of the WCC standings.

Last Week for the Broncos
For the third weekend in a row, Santa Clara split its pair of WCC contests, capturing a 69-60 victory Thursday night over the Pepperdine Waves in Malibu, before dropping a 67-52 decision at Loyola Marymount on Saturday afternoon. Chandice Cronk scored 26 points on 8-of-12 shooting against the Waves, while Jen Gottschalk scored nine points and grabbed 10 rebounds in the win. As a team, the Broncos shot 48.9% from the floor (23-for-47).

Scouting Saint Mary's
Saint Mary's (9-11, 3-4) heads into the Leavey Center this Saturday night after splitting its weekend contests in Southern California. The Gaels, after stunning Loyola Marymount 64-59 Thursday night, fell 76-73 in a close contest to the Pepperdine Waves. Jontelle smith leads the Gaels with 11.8 points per game, while Eghosa Obaiza leads the team with 7.5 rebounds a game and adds 8.8 points as well.

All-Time vs. Saint Mary's
The Broncos hold a 30-18 edge over Saint Mary's in the all-time series between the long-time rivals. Santa Clara extended its winning streak over the Gaels to five games on Jan. 7 of this year, defeating SMC 84-71 at McKeon Pavilion.

Head Coach Michelle Bento-Jackson
In her fifth season as the head coach at Santa Clara, Michelle Bento-Jackson has compiled a career record of 77-67 (36-27 WCC), and last season brought home not only her first WCC regular-season title and a bid to the WNIT but was also named WCC Coach of the Year for the first time. Bento-Jackson also led the Broncos to the WCC Tournament title and an NCAA Tournament appearance in 2005. In her first season on the Mission Campus, Bento-Jackson guided the Broncos to a 20-11 record and a 9-5 WCC mark, earning a WNIT bid. She joined Santa Clara after serving on the women's basketball coaching staff at Syracuse for four seasons, and before that spent two seasons as an assistant at her alma mater, Fresno State. At Fresno State Bento-Jackson was a two-sport star in basketball and softball, leading the Bulldogs the the WNIT in 1990 and in 1992 being named to the College World Series All-Tournament team.

Among the National Leaders
Through the national statistics of Jan. 28, Santa Clara is second in the nation in both three-pointers made (195) and three-pointers made per game (8.9). The Broncos are also 11th with a 38.6% three-point shooting percentage, and 48th with 15.6 assists per game.

Individually, Chandice Cronk leads all players in the country with 76 three-pointers and 3.5 threes made a game, and is tenth in the nation with a 44.4% three-point shooting success rate. Ashley Graham is also tied for 45th with 4.8 assists per game.

In the WCC
Through the action of Jan. 28 for all West Coast Conference teams, the Broncos lead the conference in scoring with 70.7 points a game, and lead in three-point shooting, making 38.6% of their attempts. The Broncos also pace the WCC with a team shooting percentage of 42.4%, 8.86 threes made a game and are second with 15.59 assists per game.

Individually, Chandice Cronk paces the loop with her 17.1 points a game, Jen Gottschalk is tenth with 11.4 points a game, and Ashley Graham sits tenth with her 11.8 points a game. Gottschalk also sits atop the WCC with a 55.8% mark from the field and is seventh with 6.6 rebounds a game. Cronk leads the WCC with 3.45 three-pointers made a game and is third with 44.4% shooting from beyond the arc, while Graham is sixth with 38.2% three-point shooting. Cronk is also fifth in the conference with an 82.7% free-throw shooting rate, and Graham is third in the WCC with 4.77 assists a game, and fourth with a 1.50 assist-to-turnover ratio, while Tracey Walker is fourth with 2.38 steals a game.

Explosion Off the Bench
Proving that she is a sparkplug off the bench for the team, junior guard Tracey Walker showed off her explosive game Saturday by scoring a season-high 16 points against Loyola Marymount. She also grabbed seven rebounds in the contest to lead the team, and on the season, has scored 8.9 points and grabbed 4.1 rebounds per game, placing herself fourth on the team in scoring and third in rebounding.

Doing the Dirty Work
Junior forward Jen Gottschalk continued to carry the load for the Bronco posts this past weekend, averaging 10.5 points and 8.0 rebounds over the games against Pepperdine and Loyola Marymount. Against the Waves Thursday night, Gottschalk came close to another double-double, scoring nine points and grabbing 10 rebounds in the 69-60 win. Two days later, against LMU, Gottschalk scored 13 points and grabbed six boards before fouling out in the second half.

Pourin' In the Points
After a weekend which included a big 26-point night against Pepperdine on Thursday, guard Chandice Cronk reinforced her hold on the WCC soring lead with 17.1 points per game. Thursday night's effort also marked the ninth time this season that Cronk has reached the 20-point mark, highlighted by her career-high performance of 30 points on Jan. 20 against San Francisco.

Blocking Machines
While the art of shot-blocking has always taken a backseat to high-scorers, senior forwards Ashley Gonnerman and Kasey Monteith have quietly moved their way up Santa Clara's all-time career blocks list. Currently, Gonnerman, who is seventh in the WCC with 1.18 blocks a game, is third on the SCU blocked shots list with 81, only two behind second-place Catherine Rigby (1996-98). Monteith, who is eighth in the conference with 1.00 blocks a game, currently has 74 in her career, and holds the fourth spot on the career list.

"Point"-ing the Way
Senior guard Ashley Graham has furthered her credentials as the team's point guard by establishing herself as one of the top passers in the West Coast Conference. While Graham runs the high-octane Santa Clara offense with precision, she can also score when called upon, as she averages 10.8 points a game to go with her 4.8 assists, which rank third in the conference.

Firing From All Cylinders
During head coach Michelle Bento-Jackson's tenure at SCU, the Broncos have forged a reputation as one of the best three-point shooting teams in the nation, and so far this season have cemented that notion. The Broncos have already hit 195-of-505 attempts from beyond the arc (38.6%), and are paced by Chandice Cronk's 76 threes. SCU also gets long-range help from guard Ashley Graham, the school's all-time second-most accurate three-point shooter with a career mark of 43.1%. Graham also was a perfect 5-for-5 from beyond the arc against No. 22 BYU on Nov. 22, while forward Jen Gottschalk even got in on the act, hitting both of her three-point attempts in Dec. 9's 80-73 win over Fresno State.

Next 1,000-Point Clubber
The Broncos have added a new member to the program's "1,000 Point Club" in each of the past two seasons, as Quinn Thomas (2005) and Michelle Cozad (2006) became the 14th and 15th members of the prestigious club. This season, senior guard Ashley Graham is on pace to become the 16th member, as she currently stands at 939 career points with seven regular-season contests and at least one postseason game remaining. As long as Graham averages at least 7.6 points a game in the remaining eight contests, she will assure herself a spot in the prestigious club.

In WCC play
Since beginning conference play in the 1978-79 season, the Broncos have compiled a 196-175 (.528) record against conference opponents, including last season's 11-3 mark. SCU's best conference showing came in the 1990-91 season, in which Caren Horstmeyer's Broncos ran away with the WCC title with a 13-1 record.

Also, since finishing 5-9 in WCC play in 1989-90, the Broncos have finished above .500 in 15 of the last 16 conference seasons.

SCU At Home
The Broncos hold an all-time mark of 256-136 (.653) in games held at the Leavey Center, dating back to the Toso Pavilion days in 1979-80. Since going 6-8 at home in the 1995-96 season, the Broncos have only had one sub-.500 season at home since then, when the injury-ravaged 2003-04 team went 3-13. Last year's Broncos went 11-3 at the Leavey Center, and three times in program history SCU has posted unblemished marks at home, going 17-0 in 1990-91, 15-0 in 1997-98, and 12-0 in 2001-02.