January 25, 2012

Next for Santa Clara Women's Basketball: Longtime Rival SMC; WCC Newcomer #23 BYU

SANTA CLARA, Calif. - The Broncos will be playing two very good teams this week, first against a 15-6 St. Mary's squad on the road Thursday night, then at home against No. 23 BYU Saturday at 2 p.m. SCU will try and get its offense clicking; the Broncos are 8-2 this season when scoring 70+ points.

Game Notes - Jan. 26/28, 2012

SANTA CLARA (8-11; 1-5) @ ST. MARY'S (15-6; 6-2)

Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012 • 7 p.m.
Game #20 • Road Game #9  • Moraga, Calif.
Listen Live | Watch Live | Live Stats

#23 BYU (18-3; 7-1)* @ SANTA CLARA

Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012 • 2 p.m.
Game #21 • Home Game #12  • Santa Clara, Calif.
Watch Live | Live Stats
*BYU will play at Seattle Wednesday, Jan. 25

LIVE COVERAGE

A live pay-per-view video broadcast of Saturday's game vs. BYU 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, on Thursday, live pay-per-view video and audio feeds from SMC will be available on (SantaClaraBroncos.com).

SPECIAL OLYMPIC HALL OF FAME
There will be a special halftime recognition ceremony on Saturday, Jan. 28 during the Santa Clara-BYU women's basketball game, highlighting the Special Olympic Hall of Fame Inductee Scott Cortez.

WEEKLY NOTES

* Santa Clara is led by fourth year head coach Jennifer Mountain
* The Broncos have scored 70+ in all eight of their wins this season; the team has failed to reach that mark in each of their last four and have dropped 6 of 7
* SCU is 2-6 on the road and 6-5 at home
* SMC is 7-3 at home; BYU is 8-2 on the road and ranked No. 23 by the AP
* BYU has made two prior trips to the Leavey Center, the last coming on Dec. 4, 2003, a 75-63 win for the Cougars
* G Alyssa Shoji (15.6 ppg) will break the SCU all-time record for minutes played Thursday night against SMC if she plays 10 minutes, which would surpass Becky Ashbaugh '02 who holds the record of 3,586
* F Lindsay Leo (10.4 ppg/7.0 rpg) has five blocks in the last two games and has moved into seventh all-time at SCU in career blocks with 57

SANTA CLARA

The Broncos (8-11; 1-5 WCC) got off to their best start in over 10 years when they beat Cal State Northridge on the road to improve to 6-1 on Dec. 1. But a couple weeks later, 6-foot, 4-inch starting center Ruta Zurauskyte (12.8 ppg/7.8 rpg) suffered a season-ending injury and the Broncos have gone 2-7 since. Junior F Lindsay Leo was inserted into the starting lineup following Zurauskyte's injury, and responded well, averaging 13.9 points and 9.8 rebounds during that last nine games. If Leo can keep providing a presence in the paint and the Broncos find a rhythm offensively, SCU can be a tough team to play. Despite struggling as of late in recent WCC games, the Broncos still rank among the NCAA's top 10 teams in 3PT shooting - No. 6 in 3PT% (38.1) and No. 10 in 3s per game (7.8). Senior G Alyssa Shoji is has made 5 three-pointers in six different games this season. Backcourt starters G Meagan Fulps and G Ricki Radanovich can also fill it up from long range; Radanovich made 3 treys and scored 15 points at LMU on Saturday.

SAINT MARY'S
The Gaels (15-6; 6-2 WCC) have legitimate aspirations of winning a WCC title. Led by sixth-year head coach Paul Thomas, the Gaels owned an RPI of No. 37 entering the week. A buzzer-beating loss at USF Monday night dropped SMC behind BYU and Gonzaga in the WCC standings. Wins this week over SCU and GU would allow the Gaels to control their own destiny in WCC play heading into February. Senior guard Jasmine Smith (17.2 ppg/3.0 rpg) leads the team in scoring. G/F Jackie Nared (12.0 ppg/7.0 rpg) and F Danielle Mauldin (8.1 ppg/8.1 rpg) have helped SMC rank No. 16 nationally in rebounding margin (+8.6).

ALL-TIME VERSUS SMC
Santa Clara leads the all time series with SMC, 33-27, but are just 1-9 against the Gaels in the last four seasons. SCU's lone win during that stretch came in the WCC tournament's first round three years ago. Last year the Broncos lost two close games, by nine at home and by five on the road. Ashley Armstrong filled in for injured teammate Meagan Fulps to score a career-high 20 points last season at SMC, a 75-70 Gaels victory on Feb. 10, 2011.

BYU
The Cougars (18-3; 7-1 WCC) have instantly become one of the WCC's top teams. BYU has averaged 10,052 fans at home this season and will close out the year by playing five-straight WCC games in Provo before visiting Spokane for their regular season finale vs. GU on Feb. 25. BYU has won 17 of 18 and are ranked No. 23 in the latest AP top 25 poll - the first time BYU has been ranked by the AP since 2006. The team boasts a balanced and efficient  scoring attack, ranked No. 13 nationally in FG% (45.0) and No. 25 in 3PT% (35.8). An interesting stat that relates to the BYU-SCU game Saturday, is the fact that BYU is holding opponents to WCC-low 27.8 percent shooting clip from 3-point range. SCU is of course the WCC's top 3-point shooting team (38.1 percent). BYU has used the same starting lineup all year.  Senior G Haley Steed's average of 7.0 assists per game ranks No. 7 in the NCAA.

ALL-TIME VERSUS BYU

The Broncos are 1-2 all time against the Cougars.  The last meeting came during the 2006-07 season in Provo.  The Broncos lost that game on the road 77-63 giving them a two game losing streak in the head-to-head matchup. BYU has made two prior trips to the Leavey Center, the last coming on Dec. 4, 2003, a 75-63 win for the Cougars.  This will be the first-ever meeting with BYU for current SCU head coach Jennifer Mountain.

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. 24)
Team (WCC) Overall
1. #23 BYU (7-1) 18-3
2. #22 Gonzaga (6-1) 17-3
3. Saint Mary's (6-2) 15-6
4. San Diego (4-2) 13-5
5. Pepperdine (5-3) 10-9
6. San Francisco (2-6) 4-17
7. Santa Clara (1-5) 8-11
8. LMU (1-6) 5-14
9. Portland (1-7) 8-14

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