January 3, 2012

Santa Clara Women Host Portland Thursday Night at 7 p.m.

SANTA CLARA, Calif. - The Santa Clara Broncos are back in action Thursday night, hosting league rival Portland at the Leavey Center. The matchup is part of a three-game West Coast Conference homestand for the Broncos, who come in 7-7 overall and 0-1 in league play after being edged by Pepperdine in last week's WCC opener.

Game Notes - Jan. 5, 2011
PORTLAND (7-9; 0-2 WCC) @ SANTA CLARA (7-7; 0-1 WCC)
Thursday, Jan. 5, 2012 • 7 p.m.
Game #15 • Home Game #9  • Santa Clara, Calif.
Watch Live
| Live Stats

WEEKLY NOTES
* Santa Clara is led by fourth year head coach Jennifer Mountain
* SCU is 5-3 at home; Portland is 1-3 in true road games
* SCU has lost 5 of 6; Portland has lost 7 of 9
* All-WCC G Alyssa Shoji leads the NCAA in 3PT shooting (3.9 pg)
* Shoji needs three 3-pointers to tie (and four to break) Santa Clara's all-time career 3PT record of 244 established by Chandice Cronk '08
* Junior F Lindsay Leo averaged over 12 points per game in December; she leads the WCC in FG % (54.5)
* The relationship between the two head coaches dates back to Jennifer Mountain's childhood growing up in Portland. Jim Sollars was JMO's camp coach at Oregon State when she was a seventh-grader. It was the first-ever camp she attended and credits Sollars as being one of the earliest positive influences motivating her as a young player
* Santa Clara ranks fourth in the NCAA as a team in three-point field goal percentage (39.5) and seventh with 8.2 threes per game
* Portland has played a tough schedule as of late, which has included recent losses on the road against Oregon, Washington, Seattle and at home versus No. 14 Louisville, Gonzaga and BYU
* NEXT UP: Santa Clara hosts San Diego Monday, Jan. 9 at 7 p.m.

LIVE COVERAGE
A live pay-per-view video broadcast will be available on Santa Clara's official athletics website (SantaClaraBroncos.com). Sam Farber (play-by-play) will call the action courtside from the Leavey Center. Additionally, free live stats will be available online as well.

TICKETS
Season tickets start at just $40 for youth/seniors and $50 for adults.  Single-game tickets start at just $5. For the best value, purchase a Family Plan for $100. The Family Plan includes two adult and three youth tickets to each and every home game. Tickets are available for purchase online at SantaClaraBroncos.com/buytickets or by calling the ticket office directly at 408-554-4660.

SANTA CLARA
The Broncos (7-7; 0-1 WCC) are looking to bounce back from a stunning loss over the weekend against Pepperdine. SCU looked sharp in the first half, using up-tempo play to lead 35-13 at the break. But the Waves rallied to win, holding the Broncos to 21 points in the second half. The high-scoring attack displayed in the first half against Pepperdine powered Santa Clara to a 6-1 start this season - with the Broncos averaging 80 points per game during that early-season run. SCU will be looking to put together a complete 40 minutes against Portland. Senior PG Alyssa Shoji (17.1 ppg) is the nation's top 3-point shooter and backcourt teammates SG Meagan Fulps (11.7 ppg) and SG Ricki Radanovich (7.6 ppg) make the Broncos a dangerous team to face. The emergence of junior F Lindsay Leo (9.6 ppg/6.1 rpg) as one of the WCC's best post players has been key for a Santa Clara team who lost 6-foot 4-inch starting center Ruta Zurauskyte (12.8 ppg/7.8 rpg) to a season-ending injury in mid-December.

PORTLAND

The Pilots (7-9; 0-2 WCC) started the season 5-2 but have won just 2 of 7 since. A big reason for that may be their strength of schedule. Portland's last three defeats have been to No. 13 Louisville and WCC favorites Gonzaga and BYU. Long-time head coach Jim Sollars saw 6-foot senior forward Natalie Day win the WCC 'Player of the Week' award three straight times to open the season. Day ranks No. 2 in the league in scoring (18.4) and third in rebounding (7.6).  Senior G ReZina TecleMariam (11.2 ppg), who prepped at the same high school as SCU sophomore Shelby Swofford in the Seattle area, has historically played well against the Broncos. Last season TecleMariam scored a career-high 28 points against SCU in the WCC tournament quarterfinals.

ALL-TIME VERSUS PORTLAND

The Broncos lost a close one on the road to the Pilots in their first meeting of last season, but bounced back with a 77-55 blowout at home on 'Senior Day' at the Leavey Center. However, Portland responded with a 75-64 win in the WCC tournament quarterfinals just a few days later - ending Santa Clara's season.  SCU leads the all-time series 31-26, but is 1-5 in the last six meetings.  Last year on 'Senior Day' February 19, 2011, Meagan Fulps and Ricki Radanovich both scored 19 points in one of the Broncos most impressive wins of the 2010-11 campaign.

HEAD COACH JENNIFER MOUNTAIN

'JMO' became the eighth Santa Clara University head women's basketball coach in April 2008. Mountain led the Broncos to a top-tier finish in the WCC standings in 2010-11 and for the third-straight year won at least one postseason game at the conference tournament. Her SCU teams have showed marked improved in her three seasons thus far. Mountain came to the Mission Campus after serving seven seasons as the top assistant coach at Gonzaga, where she helped the Bulldogs to four-straight WCC regular season championships and one WCC tournament crown. "Jen understands what Santa Clara is all about," said SCU Athletic Director Dan Coonan. "It's about competitive basketball but it's about so much more than that. Educating men and women for competence, conscience, and compassion -- that's what Santa Clara really stands for. We believe that and live that here. I think Jen is the perfect person who embodies those kinds of values."

The Jen Mountain File:

• Head Coach - Santa Clara University (2008-pres.)
• Assistant Coach- Gonzaga University (2001-08)
• Boys Head Coach - St. George's School (1994-2001)
• Amateur Player - Gonzaga University (1987-91)

2011-12 WCC STANDINGS (Jan. 3)
Team (WCC) Overall
T1. St. Mary's (2-0) 11-4
T1. Pepperdine (2-0) 7-6
3. Gonzaga (1-0) 12-2
T4. BYU (1-1) 12-3
T4. San Francisco (1-1) 3-12
6. San Diego (0-0) 9-3
7. Santa Clara (0-1) 7-7
8. Portland (0-2) 7-9
9. LMU (0-2) 4-10

ON VERGE OF SHATTERING ALL-TIME RECORD
Alyssa Shoji, the senior guard from Bellevue, Wash., can break SCU's all-time 3-point shooting record of 244 set by Chandice Cronk '08 if she makes four 3s on Thursday (she averages 3.9 makes per game). Shoji enters the game with 241 for her career. Shoji is leaving quite a mark on the Bronco record book, ranking among SCU's all-time top 10 in points, assists, 3s, FT% and minutes.

LAST TIME OUT
Santa Clara led by 22 at the break, but Pepperdine responded with a big second half, winning 62-56 and spoiling the Broncos' West Coast Conference opener at the Leavey Center. The Waves opened the second half on a 19-4 run, forcing the Broncos into 13 turnovers after the intermission. The guard combo of Lauren Bell, Jazmine Jackson and Katie Menton combined for 40 of Pepperdine's 49 second-half points. Bell finished with a game-high 18.

Santa Clara (7-7; 0-1 WCC) led 35-13 at halftime, making 15 of 27 shots in the opening period. Alyssa Shoji scored all 12 of her points in the first half while Lindsay Leo led all Bronco scorers with 14 and added seven rebounds.

Pepperdine (7-6; 2-0 WCC) was picked to finish third behind Gonzaga and BYU in the WCC preseason coaches poll. The Waves went 18-12 (9-5 WCC) last season and advanced into the WNIT.

SANTA CLARA'S SHOJI IS NCAA'S TOP 3-POINT SHOOTER

Alyssa Shoji, Santa Clara University's women's basketball point guard, is currently leading all NCAA Division I players in three-point shooting. The senior from Bellevue, Wash. has made 54 threes this season, shooting 51.9 percent from beyond the arc. Her average of 3.9 makes per game ranks No. 1 nationally in the latest NCAA statistical rankings and her shooting percentage comes in at No. 2 (at this pace both would be new single-season school records). Shoji is enjoying an outstanding senior year, scoring 17.1 points per contest while distributing 3.6 assists and shooting 96.1 percent from the free throw line.

BRONCOS APPROACH ROAD SCORING RECORD
Santa Clara's 96 points in its 20-point win over Sacramento State Dec. 22 was a season-high and most since Dec. 28, 2005. The point-total was also the second-highest on the road in school history, approaching the all-time road scoring record of 99 set in 1991 at Portland. The 96 points was the seventh-most in school history overall.

6-1 START FOR SANTA CLARA IS BEST IN OVER 10 YEARS
Fourth-year Santa Clara head coach Jennifer Mountain and her Broncos got off to a 6-1 start this season, the program's best since SCU went 9-0 to open the 1999-2000 campaign. The team scored over 80 points per game during that stretch, which ranked among the NCAA's leading offenses. Five of those wins came on their home floor at Santa Clara's Leavey Center.

BRONCOS CAPITALIZE ON EARLY-SEASON HOME SCHEDULE

A year ago, SCU posted a winning record against WCC teams on its home floor and tied for fourth in the league standings. That momentum carried over into the new season, with the Broncos winning all five of their early-season home games. Wins against CSU Bakersfield (Nov. 11), Northern Colorado (Nov. 16), Southern Utah (Nov. 18), Long Beach State (Nov. 21) and UC Davis (Nov. 28) at the Leavey Center has SCU off to a perfect 5-0 start at home and a 5-1 overall record.

FULPS MAKES 17 FREE THROWS - SETS ALL-TIME RECORD

Junior guard Meagan Fulps established a new SCU school record by making 17 of 20 free throws in the Broncos' season-opening victory over CSU Bakersfield (Nov. 11). The 17 makes was a new record, breaking the previous mark of 15 set by SCU legends Melissa King '93 and Christine Silvernail '94.

SCU'S RUTA ZURAUSKYTE NAMED NATIONAL PLAYER OF WEEK

Following a 33-point, 13-rebound performance at UC Irvine (Dec. 3) and a 17-point effort in a victory at Cal State Northridge (Dec. 1), Santa Clara University junior Ruta Zurauskyte was named Jesuit Basketball's National Player of the Week. Zurauskyte posted four double-doubles this season and her 33 points vs. UC Irvine tied for the seventh-best single-game scoring night in Santa Clara history.

BRONCOS INK WASHINGTON'S KATIE HAWKINS TO NLI
Santa Clara University has received a National Letter of Intent from Katie Hawkins, a 5-foot-10 guard from Snohomish, Wash. and senior at Glacier Peak High School. Hawkins can really distribute the basketball, dishing out 4.2 assists per game last season, while averaging 12.5 points. ESPN.com writes 'Uncommon size and skill-set combination makes Hawkins not only a big point guard, but a player who can handle the other perimeter positions and provide a low-post element to each. At the point, she can make all the passes, including putting the ball on a laser from 3/4 court.' Hawkins was a First Team 3A All-WesCo league honoree last season. She led Glacier Peak to a 15-11 overall record and an appearance in the 2011 Washington State tournament at the Tacoma Dome. As a sophomore, Hawkins stepped up and was instrumental to the Grizzlies run in the district playoffs.

ESPN RANKS SCU RECRUITS AMONG BEST
The Bronco program is welcoming in one of the nation's top recruiting classes, according to ESPN.com., who ranked the class No. 56 nationally. The class includes guards Nici Gilday and Tyler Woods along with frontcourt players Vanessa Leo (sister of current SCU teammate Lindsay Leo) and Colleen Rooney.

SCU'S LENA GIPSON SIGNS PRO CONTRACT
Record-setting SCU women's basketball alumna Lena Gipson '11 has signed a contract to play professionally in the Southern European island country of Malta. Gipson will be playing for Hibernians Medsea and former men's Italian National Team Head Coach Bruno Di Pietrantonio.

"My time at Santa Clara, as well as at the other universities that I've played at, and believing through injury, has reaffirmed the thought that through hard work and determination anything is possible," said Gipson. "Do not be discouraged, do not let yourself be deterred; if you set your mind to it you can achieve goals that you had never thought possible."

Gipson had been told that she wouldn't even be able to play recreational basketball after a major knee injury during her senior year of high school at San Joaquin Memorial near her hometown of Hanford, Calif.

WCC TOURNAMENT RETURNS TO VEGAS
The West Coast Conference will return to Las Vegas in 2012 for the Zappos.com WCC Basketball Championships February 29 through March 5. The #8 and #9 seeds will compete in the opening rounds to determine who will advance to the next round of the tournament. The #5 seed will then compete against the winner of the opening round. Waiting for the winners in the quarterfinals will be the #3 and #4 seeds, who will have first round byes. The winners of the quarterfinal match-ups will go head-to-head with the #1 and #2 seeds, who will have byes through the first two rounds of the tournament. Tickets are on sale now.

STRONG FINISH TO THE 2010-11 SEASON
The Santa Clara women's basketball team climbed up the league standings in 2010-11, finishing in a tie for fourth after winning 4 of 7 WCC games at home and winning 11 games overall. Jen Mountain's team closed out the season with a 9-9 record in their last 18 games, including winning back-to-back WCC games twice and beating rival USF at the WCC tournament in March.

FINAL 2010-11 WCC STANDINGS
1. No. 8 Gonzaga $ (14-0/31-5)
2. Saint Mary's % (10-4/19-13)
3. Pepperdine % (9-5/18-12)
T4. Portland (6-8/16-15)
T4. Santa Clara (6-8/11-19)
T6. Loyola Marymount (5-9/11 18)
T6. San Diego 5-9/17-14
8. San Francisco 1-13/4-25

# Rankings by ESPN Coaches Poll
! NCAA Tournament Elite Eight
^ WNIT First Round