February 22, 2012

Big Games for Bronco Women: at BYU Thursday, Senior Day Saturday vs. USF

SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Santa Clara is playing two important games this week, which have WCC postseason tournament seeding implications. Currently in sixth-place in the standings, two wins this week would assure the Broncos a spot in Thursday night's 6-7 seed game at the tournament. However, one victory, whether it be against BYU Thursday or vs. USF Saturday would most likely be enough.

Game Notes - Feb. 23/25, 2012
SANTA CLARA (11-16; 4-10) @ BYU (23-5; 11-3)  
Thursday, Feb. 23, 2012 • 7:00 p.m. (MT)
Game #28 • Road Game #14 • Provo, Utah
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USF (5-22; 3-11)* @ SANTA CLARA  
Saturday, Feb. 25, 2012 • 2 p.m.
Game #29 • Home Game #15 • Santa Clara, Calif..
*USF will host Portland Thursday, Feb. 23
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WEEKLY NOTES
* Santa Clara is led by fourth-year head coach Jennifer Mountain
* The Broncos are coming off a pivotal 71-70 road win at Portland
* SCU is 4-9 on the road this season and 7-7 at home
* The Broncos nearly beat then No. 23-BYU at the Leavey Center on Jan. 28, leading at the half before eventually losing 74-64
* Senior G Alyssa Shoji made 8 three-pointers Saturday against UP; Shoji ranks No. 3 in NCAA in 3PT FG (3.4 pg) and needs 2 more 3s to break SCU's season record of 94 set by Chandice Cronk in 2006-07
* Santa Clara ranks No. 10 in NCAA in 3PT-shooting (7.6 pg) as a team
* Junior F Lindsay Leo ranks 2nd in WCC in FG % (53.7) and is coming off her sixth double-double of the season (19 pts/10 reb) at Portland
* BYU was stunned by USF at home on Feb. 16 but still control their own WCC Championship destiny if they can beat SCU and Gonzaga this week

LIVE COVERAGE
Live pay-per-view video stream will be available online for Saturday's game against USF on Santa Clara's official athletics website (SantaClaraBroncos.com). A live pay-per-view audio stream will be available on (SantaClaraBroncos.com) for Thursday's game in Provo. Sam Farber (play-by-play) will call all the action courtside from Provo and Santa Clara. Additionally, BYUtv will be broadcasting Thursday night's game on live television. 

SANTA CLARA
The Broncos (11-16; 4-10 WCC) close out the regular season with some important games that will impact the team's seeding in the upcoming WCC tournament. One win, whether it be against BYU on Thursday night or against USF at home Saturday would most likely give the team a sixth or seventh-place finish - avoiding the tournament's play-in game between the eighth and ninth place finishers on Wednesday night in Vegas. If the Broncos do one thing particularly well, it's shooting the 3. SCU ranks 10th nationally in 3s made per game (7.6). The Broncos lone senior, Alyssa Shoji (15.0 ppg), has been sensational this season, ranking among the NCAA's leaders in 3-point shooting while also leading the team in assists (3.0), FT% (86.4) and minutes (33.4). Shoji will be recognized for her record-setting career prior to Saturday afternoon's game against USF. She has established new program records in 3PT FG (280), minutes (3,831) and ranks among SCU's top 10 in points (1,344), FT% (81.9) and assists (315). Keep an eye on junior F Lindsay Leo (10.4 ppg/7.0 rpg), who had 14 rebounds and 14 points against BYU last month and 12 points and 8 rebounds at USF on Feb. 4.

BYU
The Cougars (23-5; 12-3 WCC) have been ranked among the nation's top 25 this season and are currently receiving votes in the latest top 25 poll released by the AP. A shocking loss to USF at home 71-64 last Thursday was followed up with a 64-50 victory over USD Saturday. BYU is wrapping up a five-game homestand Thursday against SCU before going on the road to play No. 21 Gonzaga, in game many think will decide the regular-season WCC champion. BYU is 19-0 this season when leading at the half and rank among the NCAA's best in assists, assist-to-turnover ratio, blocked shots and field goal percentage defense. The Cougars' senior class will be honored following Thursday's game vs. SCU.

ALL-TIME VERSUS BYU
The Broncos are 1-3 all-time against the WCC newcomers, which includes a 74-64 BYU victory at the Leavey Center earlier this season. Prior to this season, the last meeting with the Cougars came in 2006-07. The Broncos lost that game on the road 77-63, the first and only time SCU had played in Provo.

USF
The Dons (5-22; 3-11 WCC) shocked everyone around the league by going on the road and beating BYU 71-64 last Thursday. Similar to Santa Clara, USF can play itself into the 6-7 seed game at next week's WCC tournament by winning twice this week. Portland visits War Memorial Gym Thursday before the Dons make the short trip to Santa Clara Saturday. Senior G Rheina Ale (14.3 ppg) has been the Dons' most consistent performer this season, but the bench came through in a big way in Thursday's win in Provo, providing 35 points, including 21 from Jamie Katuna.
 
ALL-TIME VERSUS USF
SCU has played USF more than any other team in its history and lead the all-time series 49-35. Under Jennifer Mountain the team is 6-2 against USF and is currently on a four-game winning streak. SCU beat USF last season at the WCC tournament 62-58 and followed that victory up with a 59-51 win at War Memorial Gym earlier this year. SCU went on a 17-3 second half run to overcome a slow start and win that one by eight. 

2012 WCC STANDINGS (Feb. 21)
Team (WCC) Overall
1. No. 21 Gonzaga (13-2) 24-4
2. BYU (11-3) 23-5
T3. San Diego (10-4) 19-7
T3. Saint Mary's (10-4) 19-8
5. Pepperdine (7-7) 12-13
6. Santa Clara (4-10) 11-16
7. Portland (3-11) 10-18    
8. San Francisco (3-11) 5-22
9. LMU (3-12) 7-20

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)

QUOTABLE
"It was a game of runs that went back-and-forth, back-and-forth," said Santa Clara head coach Jennifer Mountain after Saturday's win at Portland. "Runs, we went periods of time where we turned the ball over and didn't make shots. They were able to make shots at times and get out in transition. I was just a good back-and-forth basketball game. I am really proud of our kids. We battled on the road."

CREATING A CULTURE OF ACADEMIC SUCCESS
Santa Clara's work ethic on the basketball court has translated into success in the classroom. With a team GPA of 3.1, head coach Jennifer Mountain's emphasis on academic prowess continues to pay off, facilitating a culture that has allowed 10 of the team's 16 players to post GPA's above a 3.0. "That's something we look for when we're recruiting," said Mountain, who is in her fourth season at Santa Clara. "The kids that are excelling in the classroom generally are the kids that excel for me on the floor."

SHOJI ONE SHY OF BREAKING SINGLE-SEASON 3PT RECORD
Alyssa Shoji needs just one more three-point basket to equal Santa Clara's all-time single-season record of  94 set by Chandice Cronk in 2006-07. The senior from Bellevue, Wash. led the WCC  led the WCC in 3PT FG (84) and ranked 35th nationally as sophomore in 2009-10, which had been her previous season-best total. She has already become the Broncos all-time career leader, eclipsing Cronk's previous career mark of 244 earlier this year.

FACING TOP TEAMS
Santa Clara has played five teams ranked or listed among the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Top 25 this season. WCC members No. 21 Gonzaga and BYU; and non-conference opponents who have all received votes: Cal, Princeton, and Fresno State.

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. averaged 3.9 makes per game at the time, ranking No. 1 nationally in the NCAA and her shooting percentage came in at No. 1 as well (at her current pace both will be new single-season school records).

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.

WCC TOURNAMENT TICKET UPDATE
All-session tickets are sold out.  However, a limited number of single game tickets are expected to be available each morning during the tournament at the Orleans Arena box office.  Any single game tickets available will go on sale at 10 a.m. each day for that day's games.

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