Women's Hoops Begins WCC Tournament Play Thursday Night

Feb. 28, 2007

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SANTA CLARA, Calif. - The Santa Clara women's basketball team travels north to Portland to begin play in the 2007 West Coast Conference Tournament. The Broncos, the tournament's sixth seed, will open up play Thursday night at 6 p.m., taking on the third-seeded Loyola Marymount Lions at the Chiles Center.

This Week for the Broncos
The Broncos (13-16, 5-9) head north to Portland, Ore. to take part in the West Coast Conference Tournament. As the No. 6 seed in the bracket, Santa Clara will open up quarterfinal round play against the No. 3 Loyola Marymount Lions (17-11, 9-5) at 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 1. Bronco fans can follow all of the action on the Internet via Anthony Passarelli's play-by-play broadcast and on Gametracker at www.santaclarabroncos.com.

Last Week for the Broncos
Santa Clara's recent slide continued this past weekend, as the team's losing streak was extended to five games after dropping a pair of contests to Loyola Marymount and Pepperdine. The Broncos fell 65-56 to the Lions Thursday night, and then dropped Saturday's "Senior Day" contest, 77-69 to the Waves. Chandice Cronk, though, became the WCC's all-time single-season three-point leader, hitting her 91st three in last week's action, while Ashley Graham became the 16th member of the "1,000-Point Club."

Scouting Loyola Marymount
Third-seeded Loyola Marymount (17-11, 9-5) enters the tournament riding a four-game winning streak. The Lions swept a pair of games in the Bay Area last weekend with wins over Santa Clara and Saint Mary's. On the year, the Lions are paced by WCC Defensive Player of the Year Amanda DeCoud (9.2 ppg, 2.60 steals a game), as well as All-WCC First Team selection Amanda Patton (11.4 points, 3.5 rebounds per game).

All-Time vs. Loyola Marymount
The Broncos hold a 37-12 edge over the Lions in the all-time series between the two schools. While the Lions swept the season series from the Broncos this season, with a 67-52 win in Los Angeles and a 65-56 win in Santa Clara, the Broncos will look to get the win that matters and eliminate the Lions from the WCC Tournament on Thursday.

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 78-73 (37-33 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. 25, Santa Clara leads the nation with 8.7 three-pointers made per game and 251 threes made. The Broncos are also 20th with a 37.0% three-point shooting percentage.

Individually, Chandice Cronk leads the country with 94 three-pointers and is second with 3.2 threes made a game, and is fourth in the nation with a 43.7% three-point shooting success rate. Ashley Graham is also 33rd with 5.1 assists per game.

In the WCC
Through the action of Feb. 25 for all West Coast Conference teams, the Broncos lead the conference in three-point shooting, making 37.0% of their attempts. The Broncos also pace the WCC with 8.66 threes made a game and a 41.7% shooting percentage. SCU is second with 69.3 points a game and 15.34 assists per game.

Individually, Chandice Cronk paces the loop with her 16.5 points a game, and Jen Gottschalk is tenth with 11.0 points a game. Gottschalk is also tied atop the WCC with a 51.0% mark from the field and is seventh with 6.5 rebounds a game. Cronk leads the WCC with 3.24 three-pointers made a game and is second with 43.7% shooting from beyond the arc, while Graham is eighth with 35.8% three-point shooting. Graham is also third in the WCC with 5.10 assists a game, and third with a 1.83 assist-to-turnover ratio, while Tracey Walker is fourth with 2.21 steals a game.

SCU In the WCC Tournament
The Broncos carry a 19-12 all-time record in WCC Tournament play with them this weekend. Santa Clara has also claimed three WCC Tournament titles, tied for most among conference teams along with Pepperdine and San Francisco. This year's tournament marks the first time that it has been held in Portland.

Santa Clara holds or shares 13 individual and 15 team records in WCC Tournament play, and broke 15 records alone in its 2005 championship run. The Broncos have also won all three meetings against the Lions in WCC Tournament play, capturing a 71-42 win in 1998, a 68-54 win in 2003, and a 73-64 semifinal victory in 2005.

The Broncos have also had four players take home Tournament MVP honors, as Melissa King was named MVP in the first WCC Tournament in 1992, Lisa Sacco took home the honor in 1998, Kendra Rhea was named MVP in 2003, and Michelle Cozad earned the honor in 2005. Current Broncos Ashley Graham (2005) and Chandice Cronk (2006) have also earned WCC All-Tournament team recognition.

All-WCC Honors
The West Coast Conference announced its All-WCC honors this past week, and the Broncos landed two players on the teams. Guard Chandice Cronk, the conference's leading scorer with 16.5 points a game and the top three-point shooter in the nation, was named to the All-WCC First Team, marking her second career All-WCC honor, as she was named to the WCC All-Freshman team in 2005.

Forward Jen Gottschalk was named All-WCC honorable mention after averaging 11.0 points and 6.1 rebounds a game while pacing the conference with a 51.0% shooting percentage. Gottschalk's honor comes after she returned to the team this season after a two-year layoff.

Reaching the Milestone
Senior guard Ashley Graham reached a milestone that only 15 others before her had reached this past weekend, joining the "1,000-Point Club" Thursday night against Loyola Marymount. Graham buried a three-pointer from the wing with 7:05 left to play in the contest against the Lions, giving her exactly 1,000 career points, and marking that for the third straight season, the Broncos welcomed a player in the prestigious "1,000-Point Club," following Quinn Thomas in 2004-05 and Michelle Cozad in 2005-06.

The Records Keep Falling
Chandice Cronk reached a milestone of her own this past weekend, and is also on the verge of another. Cronk, against Loyola Marymount, hit her 91st three-pointer of the season, making her the West Coast Conference's single-season record holder for threes made.

Cronk's career year has also put her in position to calim another respected honor. Her 478 points this season have brought her career total to 984 in just less than three years at SCU, and with 16 points in this weekend's tournament, Cronk will become the 17th member of the "1,000-Point Club," joining teammate Ashley Graham, who joined the elite club on Feb. 22.

High-Scoring Back Court
Santa Clara's backcourt trio of Chandice Cronk, Ashley Graham, and Tracey Walker have been a major reason for the Broncos' 69.3 points per game average this season. Together, the trio has combined to score 1,036 points, little over half of SCU's team total of 2,009 points on the season. All three are averaging career highs in points this season, as Cronk leads the WCC with 16.5 points a game, Graham is scoring 10.8 points a game, and Walker adds 8.8 points per contest.

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 251-of-679 attempts from beyond the arc (37.0%), and are paced by Chandice Cronk's 94 threes. SCU also gets long-range help from guard Ashley Graham, the school's all-time third-most accurate three-point shooter with a career mark of 41.9%. 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 kept the streak going as she became the 16th member of the club, scoring her 1,000th point with a three-pointer on Feb. 22 against Loyola Marymount. Junior guard Chandice Cronk is also on pace to join the club this season, currently sitting at 984 career points. As long Cronk scores 16 points in this weekend's WCC Tournament, she will abecome the 17th member of the prestigious club.

In WCC play Since beginning conference play in the 1978-79 season, the Broncos have compiled a 197-181 (.521) 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 at or above .500 in 16 of the last 17 conference seasons.