February 21, 2007

Women's Hoops Senior Day Approaches As Broncos Close Out Regular Season

Feb. 21, 2007

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SANTA CLARA, Calif. - With the final weekend of the West Coast Conference regular season approaching, the Santa Clara women's basketball team aims to finalize its position in the tournament brackets as the team hosts the Loyola Marymount Lions and Pepperdine Waves this weekend. The Broncos will battle the Lions Thursday night at 7 p.m. at the Leavey Center, before closing out the regular season with its Senior Day contest against the Waves at 2 p.m. Saturday. Six Bronco seniors will be honored prior to Saturday's contest.

Last Week for the Broncos
Santa Clara hit a rough patch in last weekend's action, dropping a pair of road contests to suffer its first weekend sweep of the WCC season. The Broncos dropped a 77-52 decision to the San Diego Toreros Thursday night at the Jenny Craig Pavilion before letting a second-half lead get away from them on the way to a 64-58 setback at San Francisco on Sunday. Ahsley Graham, though, scored 26 points over the weekend to bring her career total to 995, only five away from the "1,000-Point Club."

How the Weekend Can Play Out
Heading into the final weekend of the regular season, the Broncos face multiple scenarios for their lot in the WCC Tournament, to be held in Portland from March 1-4. Of the possible scenarios, the Broncos can claim no higher than the No. 4 seed in the tournament, and no lower than No. 6.

Santa Clara is currently tied for fifth in the WCC with Pepperdine at 5-7, and two games behind Loyola Marymount and Saint Mary's, and two ahead of seventh-place San Francisco.

SCU would claim the No. 4 seed in the tournament if the following occurs this weekend: The Broncos sweep their games against LMU and Pepperdine, combined with LMU also losing at Saint Mary's on Feb. 24. This would leave SCU and LMU tied at 7-7 in the standings, but SCU would win the tiebreaker based on having a better record against Saint Mary's (1-1) than LMU (0-2 vs. SMC).

SCU would claim the No. 5 seed in the tournament if the following occurs this weekend: The Broncos split the two games, finishing 6-8, defeating Pepperdine, and having the Waves also lose at Saint Mary's on Feb. 22.

SCU would receive the No. 6 seed in the tournament if the following occurs this weekend: The Broncos lose both games this weekend, leaving them at 5-9 in WCC play. Even if San Francisco sweeps their two games to also finish 5-9, the Broncos would win the tiebreaker by virtue of havign a better head-to-head record against Saint Mary's (1-1) than the Dons do (0-2).

SCU would receive the No. 7 seed in the tournament if the following occurs this weekend: The Broncos lose both games this weekend, and San Francisco wins both of their games at Portland and Gonzaga, giving the Dons the No. 6 seed by virtue of a 1-1 record against Gonzaga, as the Broncos were swept this season by the Zags.

Senior Day Saturday
Saturday's regular-season finale against Pepperdine also marks the final home game for six seniors who have made been key members of the Bronco program. Forwards Ashley Gonnerman and Kasey Monteith, along with guards Ashley Graham, Yasemin Kimyacioglu, Anna Martin, and Lauren Michalski will all be honored prior to Saturday's game. While Gonnerman and Monteith have been anchors in the paint and on the boards for the Broncos in all four of their years on the Mission Campus, the backcourt quartet has been a part of some of the most prolific offensive Bronco teams in recent memory. Graham is five points away from 1,000 career-points and is one of only two Broncos with 200 career three-pointers, while Kimyacioglu, Martin, and Michalski have all provided the grit and rugged determination that has carried the Bronco defense.

Scouting Loyola Marymount
Loyola Marymount (15-11, 7-5) remained tied with Saint Mary's in third place in the WCC after capturing a 63-52 victory over the Pepperdine Waves in Malibu last Saturday. Amanda Patton's 15 points and Ashlee Dunlap's 14 rebounds carried the day for the Lions. On the year, the Lions are paced by Jennifer Hall's 12.3 points and 7.0 rebounds per game while Patton adds 11.3 points a game.

All-Time vs. Loyola Marymount
The Broncos hold a 37-11 edge over the Lions in the all-time series between the two schools. Thursday night's contest will be the second meeting of the two schools this season, as LMU captured the first with a 67-52 win at Gersten Pavilion on Jan. 27.

Scouting Pepperdine
Pepperdine (12-15, 5-7) remained tied with the Broncos for fifth in the WCC at 5-7 after dropping a 63-52 decision to cross-town rival Loyola Marymount last Saturday. The Waves are led by Daphanie Kennedy's 10.9 points a game, while underneath, Teena Wickett (10.0 ppg, 7.1 rpg) and Teiosha George (9.9 ppg, 6.9 pgg) control the paint and the boards for Pepperdine.

All-Time vs. Pepperdine
The Broncos hold a 28-24 edge over Pepperdine in the all-time series between the two schools. SCU has won four of the last five contests against the Waves, including a 69-60 win at Firestone Fieldhouse on Jan. 25.

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 78-71 (37-31 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 Feb. 18, Santa Clara is second in the nation with 8.8 three-pointers made per game and 237 threes made. The Broncos are also tied for 15th with a 37.2% three-point shooting percentage.

Individually, Chandice Cronk is tied for first in the in the country with 90 three-pointers and 3.3 threes made a game, and is sixth in the nation with a 43.9% three-point shooting success rate. Ashley Graham is also tied for 35th with 4.96 assists per game.

In the WCC
Through the action of Feb. 18 for all West Coast Conference teams, the Broncos lead the conference in three-point shooting, making 37.2% of their attempts. The Broncos also pace the WCC with 8.78 threes made a game and are second with 69.8 points a game, a 41.7% shooting percentage, and 15.92 assists per game.

Individually, Chandice Cronk paces the loop with her 16.7 points a game, and Jen Gottschalk is ninth with 11.5 points a game. Gottschalk is also tied atop the WCC with a 52.9% mark from the field and is seventh with 6.5 rebounds a game. Cronk leads the WCC with 3.33 three-pointers made a game and is second with 43.9% shooting from beyond the arc, while Graham is seventh with 36.2% three-point shooting. Graham is also third in the WCC with 4.96 assists a game, and third with a 1.81 assist-to-turnover ratio, while Tracey Walker is fourth with 2.35 steals a game.

Joining the "1,000-Point Club"
Heading into this final weekend of WCC regular-season action, Ashley Graham stands at the threshold of becoming the 16th member of SCU women's basketball's "1,000-Point Club." The Redmond, Wash. native stands at 995 career points heading into Thursday night's game against Loyola Marymount, and two weeks ago also became only the second SCU player to make 200 career three-pointers, joining all-time leader Quinn Thomas. This season, Graham is enjoying a career year, averaging 10.9 points and 4.96 assists per game, as well as 2.1 rebounds a game.

It Had Been Awhile
After proving herself a vicious and hard-nosed competitor over the last couple of weeks, junior guard Sara Majors' hard work finally paid off Sunday at San Francisco, earning her first start since Nov. 22, 2004. After coming off the bench to score six points in 13 minutes at San Diego, Majors started against the USF Dons Sunday and did not disappoint. She shot 3-of-4 from the floor, including being perfect on a pair of three-point attempts, scoring eight points and grabbing two rebounds in a career-high 29 minutes.

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 237-of-637 attempts from beyond the arc (37.2%), and are paced by Chandice Cronk's 90 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 42.2%. 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 and junior guard Chandice Cronk are on pace to become the 16th and 17th members, respectively, as Graham currently stands at 995 career points and Cronk at 957 with two regular-season contests and at least one postseason game remaining. With Graham a lock to reach 1,000 points, as long Cronk averages 14.3 in the remaining three contests, they will assure themselves spots in the prestigious club.

In WCC play
Since beginning conference play in the 1978-79 season, the Broncos have compiled a 197-179 (.524) 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 257-137 (.652) 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.