January 18, 2012

Santa Clara Hosts No. 25 Gonzaga Thursday; Wear Purple for Alzheimer’s Awareness

SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Four of the next five games for Santa Clara will be against the top teams in the WCC. That stretch begins Thursday night when the Broncos host perennial WCC favorites and 25th-ranked Gonzaga at 7 p.m. SCU will then travel to Los Angeles for a 5 p.m. game Saturday at Gersten Pavilion against LMU.

Game Notes - Jan. 19/21, 2012
#25 GONZAGA (15-3; 4-1) @ SANTA CLARA (8-9; 1-3)
Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012 • 7 p.m.
Game #18 • Home Game #11  • Santa Clara, Calif.
Watch Live | Live Stats

SANTA CLARA @ LMU (4-13; 0-5)*
Saturday, Jan. 21, 2012 • 5 p.m.
Game #19 • Road Game #8  • Los Angeles, Calif.
Watch Live | Listen Live
*LMU will host BYU Thursday, Jan. 19

WEEKLY NOTES

* Santa Clara is led by fourth year head coach Jennifer Mountain, who played at Gonzaga (1987-91) and was an assistant coach there (2001-08)
* The Broncos are 6-4 at home and 2-5 on the road
* Santa Clara went 11 for 39 (28%) from 3-point range in its two losses last week – uncharacteristic for a group that has been one of the NCAA's best shooting teams (40% for the season prior to last week's games)
* G Alyssa Shoji, the NCAA's No. 2-ranked 3PT shooter, needs just one more assist to reach 300 for her career (only 7 in SCU history have 300+ assists)
* F Lindsay Leo is averaging 10.0 points and 8.8 rebounds in WCC play
* Santa Clara's director of operations Amanda Brown played at GU (2006-09) and was the program's director of operations (2009-10)
* GU is ranked No. 25 in this week's ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll; the Zags have won 7-straight WCC regular season titles

LIVE COVERAGE
A live pay-per-view video broadcast of Thursday's game 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, links to audio and a free video feed for Saturday's game at LMU will be available on (SantaClaraBroncos.com).

WEAR PURPLE AND DONATE THURSDAY NIGHT!

Santa Clara University and the Bronco women's basketball program are teaming up with the Alzheimer's Association to raise funds and awareness in hopes of finding a cure for the disease. Fans attending the game against Gonzaga University on Thursday, January 19 at 7 p.m. are encouraged to wear purple to show their support for the cause. Purple ribbons will be given out to the first 300 in attendance. Additionally, donations will be accepted near the main entrances of the Leavey Center, 500 El Camino Real, Santa Clara Campus. Alzheimer's attacks the brain and is the most common form of dementia. All donated funds will be given directly to the Alzheimer's Association.

SANTA CLARA
The Broncos (8-9; 1-3 WCC) enter one of the more challenging stretches of games on its schedule. This week's games will be followed by dates at St. Mary's (next Thursday) and at home versus BYU (next Saturday). Fourth-year SCU head coach Jennifer Mountain led the Broncos to a 6-1 start - the program's best start in over a decade. However, since losing starting center Ruta Zurauskyte (12.8 ppg/7.8 rpg) in mid-December to injury, the Broncos have gone 2-5. Look for the team to shoot the ball much better than it has in the past two games. Led by an outstanding trio of guards: Alyssa Shoji (16.2 ppg), Meagan Fulps (11.2 ppg) and Ricki Radanovich (8.0 ppg), Santa Clara ranks No. 7 nationally in 3PT % (38.8) and No. 9 in 3PT FG (7.9 pg).  Fulps is getting to the line (53 FT att.) more often than any other SCU player and has the ability to put up big numbers offensively. Recent contributions from junior F Lindsay Leo (9.4 ppg/6.7 rpg) have been essential since losing Zurauskyte. True freshman G Nici Gilday is coming off one of her best games of the year, scoring 15 points at Pepperdine Saturday in Malibu.

GONZAGA
The 25th-ranked Bulldogs (15-3; 4-1 WCC) continue to be the top team in the league, but their streak of seven straight regular season WCC titles will be challenged this year by league newcomer BYU and upstarts St. Mary's and San Diego. GU dropped a 66-63 home decision to SMC on Saturday - the Zags first home WCC loss in 34 games. Preseason All-WCC picks and senior classmates F Kayla Standish (15.8 ppg/7.2 rpg) and F Katelan Redmon (12.6 ppg/6.1 rpg) have been as advertised this year.  

ALL-TIME VERSUS GU
SCU leads the all-time series 27-25. However, Gonzaga has won the last 11 games dating back to the 2006-07 season. The last four meetings have been dominated by Gonzaga, who have won each of those games by 25+ points.

LMU
The Lions (4-13; 0-5 WCC), who will host BYU Thursday, are in the midst of one of their most disappointing seasons in recent memory. LMU enters the week still looking for a WCC win and has lost 8 of 10 overall. Three of their four wins have come at home. 17th-year head coach Julie Wilhoit is armed with the WCC's top scorer in junior G/F Alex Cowling (21.2 ppg). No other player on LMU's roster is scoring in double-figures however and as a team the Lions rank last in the WCC in scoring offense (57.5).  

ALL-TIME VERSUS LMU
SCU has enjoyed quite a bit of success over LMU through the years, leading the all time series 41-18. The Broncos swept the Lions last season, winning 56-49 in Gersten Pavilion on Feb. 24, 2011. Alyssa Shoji scored 14 points and had five assists as SCU rallied from a halftime deficit.

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. 18)
Team (WCC) Overall
T1. BYU (5-1) 15-3
T1. St. Mary's (5-1) 14-5
3. #25 Gonzaga (4-1) 15-3
4. San Diego (3-1) 12-4
5. Pepperdine (4-2) 9-8
6. Santa Clara (1-3) 8-9
T7. Portland (1-5) 8-12
T7. San Francisco (1-5) 3-16
9. LMU (0-5) 4-13

SANTA CLARA'S SHOJI ONE OF NCAA'S TOP 3-POINT SHOOTERS
From Jan. 3 through Jan. 15, Alyssa Shoji, Santa Clara University's women's basketball point guard, led all NCAA Division I players in three-point shooting. The senior from Bellevue, Wash. has made 62 threes this season, shooting 52.8 percent from beyond the arc.

Her average of 3.9 makes per game at the time ranked No. 1 nationally in the NCAA statistical rankings and her shooting percentage came in at No. 1 as well (at this pace both will be new single-season school records). Shoji is enjoying an outstanding senior year, scoring 16.6 points per contest while distributing 3.4 assists and shooting 90.6 percent from the free throw line.

SHOJI SHATTERS ALL-TIME 3-POINT RECORD
Alyssa Shoji, SCU's All-WCC senior guard from Bellevue, Wash., broke SCU's all-time 3-point shooting record of 244 set by Chandice Cronk '08 when she made five 3s on Thursday, Jan. 5 against Portland. 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. She is on pace to establish new single-season program records in 3s and 3PT % this season. 

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