SANTA CLARA, Calif. – After playing tough against the top team in the West Coast Conference, Santa Clara women's basketball returns to the court for a match up with Pepperdine on Sat., Feb. 23 at 2 p.m. at the Leavey Center. In its last game, Santa Clara fell on Feb. 21 at home to Gonzaga, 70-55. The Broncos are 13-13 overall this season and 5-8 in the WCC.
Earlier this season Santa Clara topped the Waves 38-36 in Malibu. The Broncos are 31-33 all-time vs. Pepperdine and 17-13 at the Leavey Center.
"Our biggest challenge is going to be the boards," said Santa Clara head coach Jennifer Mountain. "We've got to do a better job on the boards. With us losing Lindsey Leo, our guards have got to rebound better and that's probably the hardest thing for us and then taking care of the basketball you know giving ourselves opportunities to score. We did a better job in the last couple weeks with that but again, we've got to be smarter with it so they don't turn into transition buckets."
As a team, the Broncos shoot 38.9 percent from the field and 31.1 percent from beyond the arc. Ricki Radanovich leads the team with 10.6 ppg and has hit a conference-best 59 threes. Radanovich adds 2.7 rpg and makes a team-high 1.8 spg. Meagan Fulps averages 10.5 ppg while grabbing 3.2 rpg and dishing out 2.1 assists per game.
Ruta Zurauskyte leads the Broncos with 7.2 rpg while scoring 10.2 ppg. Zurauskyte also leads the team shooting 49.3 percent from the field. She blocks 1.1 shots per game. Nici Gilday has stepped into the starting lineup and is showing a well-rounded game. Gilday averages 7.3 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 2.6 apg and 1.2 spg. Raquel Avila leads Santa Clara with 3.1 apg while scoring 4.0 ppg.
Senior forward Lindsay Leo went down on Feb. 5 with a torn ACL and will be out the rest of the season. Leo was averaging 9.7 ppg, a team-high 7.1 rpg and 2.2 bpg. She ends her Santa Clara career at No. 2 on the all-time blocks list.
"Our biggest advantage will be our depth and our ability to score," said Mountain. "I think they're down a little bit. They've won one conference game and I think that our overall winning experience will be beneficial and so will our confidence going into the game. I think we're pretty confident after Thursday night. We played decent against Gonzaga, except the rebounding edge. [Pepperdine] has the ability to get hot so we got to make sure that we come out ready to go and have that defensive energy. It was a low scoring game down at their place last time and they're going to come in knowing that it was a close game and they'll be ready to go."
Pepperdine is 4-20 this season and 1-12 in conference. The Waves are just 1-9 on the road. Their four wins have come at UC Davis 83-68, vs. South Dakota 70-54, vs. Seattle 70-64 and vs. San Francisco 71-67.
As a team the Waves shoot 34.0 percent from the field and 32.1 percent from deep. They have been outrebounded by 10.4 rebounds per game. Shay Cooney-Williams leads the team with 9.7 ppg, and pulls down 5.4 rpg with 2.5 apg. She shoots 35.2 percent from the field and 33.8 percent from beyond the arc. Kelsey Patrick averages 7.5 ppg and 5.0 rpg while shooting 30.9 percent from the floor. Ea Shoushtari is tops on the team with 2.5 apg and 1.8 spg while scoring 6.6 ppg and grabbing 4.3 rpg. Kelsey Brockway leads Pepperdine with 1.0 bpg while scoring 4.1 ppg with 3.5 rpg.
"The key matchup is going to be Cooney-Williams and Patrick," said Mountain. "You know one's a guard and one's kind of a post player in between but you have to do a good job slowing Cooney-Williams in transition. She can also shoot the ball a little bit. They have the ability to get hot as a team and we've got to make sure that we take care of business by doing a better job on the boards. Kelsey Patrick is a senior that has played pretty well so we've got to make sure we contain her and not allow open shots."