Women's Basketball Faces Pepperdine on the Road
SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Coming off of a win over LMU at home, Santa Clara women's basketball travels to Malibu, Calif. to take on Pepperdine on Thur., Jan. 17 at 7 p.m. They are to move to 10-6 overall and 2-1 in the West Coast Conference this year. It is the quickest the team has reached 10 wins in a season since 2007-08 when the Broncos got their 10th win on Dec. 31, 2007 to move their record to 10-3. That season Santa Clara went 20-11 overall and 8-6 in the WCC.
The Broncos have started some games slowly this year but come back out in the second half to seal victories. Santa Clara head coach Jennifer Mountain likes her team's ability to make adjustments at the half and values the leadership of a veteran team.
"I think it's a reality check at halftime," said Mountain. "Our senior class and our upperclassmen are a big reason we're responding the way we are but I also think it's the maturity of our team. Before we might have lost those close games but now we're winning them and it gives us confidence going into the second half of games."
As for what to expect against the Waves, Mountain knows that the Broncos must control what they can and have to start playing well right from the start.
"They're very athletic so we're going to have to control the tempo and we need to get off to a quicker start," said Mountain. "We need to do a good job of being more efficient on offense. We've had a really good three days of practice and we're getting a better flow. If we can play defense like we have been, we've held opponents under 55 points, we're going to be in good shape."
Senior guard Meagan Fulps leads Santa Clara in scoring with 12.0 points per game while also bringing down 3.5 rebounds per game. Fulps is shooting .366 (63-172) from the field and .345 (30-87) from downtown. Ricki Radanovich is second on the team with 11.0 ppg and leads the team with 37 threes made. She is shooting .336 (37-110) from deep on the year and is averaging 2.3 steals per game. Ruta Zurauskyte leads the Broncos with 7.4 rpg while adding 9.6 ppg and shooting a team best .496 (62-125) from the field. Nici Gilday leads the team with 3.1 assists per game. Leo is scoring 10.5 ppg and pulling down 7.0 rpg. She leads the team with 1.5 blocks per game and shoots .456 (57-125) from the field.
The Waves enter the game with a 4-10 overall record and a 1-2 mark in conference play. Pepperdine has taken down South Dakota 70-54, Seattle 70-64 and San Francisco 71-67 at home with its only road win coming at UC Davis 83-68 in the season-opener. The only common opponent between Pepperdine at Santa Clara has been LMU, who the Broncos beat 58-54 but the Waves fell to 65-47.
Shay Williams-Cooney leads Pepperdine with 10.9 ppg while Robie Mayberry is second with 10.6. Cooney-Williams shoots .396 (57-144) from the field and a team-best .408 (29-71) from three. She is also 10-11 from the charity stripe this year. Mayberry is pulling down a team-high 5.4 rebounds per game while shooting .376 (35-85) from the field and .316 (12-38) from deep. Ea Shoushtari is scoring 7.3 ppg while dishing out 3.2 apg and is second on the team with 4.4 rpg. Shoushtari also leads the team with 2.1 spg.
"Shay Cooney-Williams against Meagan Fulps will be a huge matchup for us," said Mountain. "We have to make sure we don't let Kelsey Patrick get off at the three-point line. Other than that it's not a matchup as much as it is us playing fundamental, pressure defense. We need to play defense like we did the other day by keeping people out of the paint. When they get into the paint they're good but when they have to make quick decisions they struggle a little bit."
Without a big rebounder on the Pepperdine roster, Santa Clara could take advantage with its bigs. Mountain knows, however, that it's never that simple.
"It's going to depend on how we come out and play," said Mountain. "It has the potential to be a factor for us. If we don't put a body on someone the fact that they're athletic and can fly around could cause us trouble. The things they're really good at cause us trouble and the things we're really good at cause them trouble so it's sort of a double-edged sword. If we come out and do what we do, I think we have a great chance to beat them on the road."