SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Continuing its four-game road trip, Santa Clara women's basketball heads to Fresno State for a game Sun., Dec. 8 at 2 p.m. vs. the Bulldogs. The Broncos are 2-5 on the season after advancing to the championship game of the Radisson Chatsworth Thanksgiving Basketball Classic with a 66-61 win at CSU Northridge. Santa Clara ultimately fell in the title game to Hampton.
"In the last three weeks our defensive effort has gotten a lot better," said Santa Clara head coach Jennifer Mountain. "We're still making mistakes but the mistakes are different. We've learned from the past and are putting ourselves in a position to win games. In the Northridge game we hit shots when we needed to and now we're starting to see the benefits of learning from our previous games. IN the beginning we were scoring a lot but our defense wasn't as good. Now our defense is better but we're not scoring as much because we aren't running as much. Hopefully we can find the in-between a little bit better to where we score and defend."
Santa Clara is averaging 69.4 points per game and is shooting 41.5% (178-429) from the field. The Broncos are shooting 25.4% (29-114) from deep and 72.1% (101-140) from the free throw line. They are averaging 45.0 rebounds per game, 17.3 assists per game, 21.0 turnovers per game, 4.9 steals per game and 1.4 blocks per game.
"Our inside game is going to be our biggest advantage," said Mountain. "They don't have back to the basket players and they aren't very deep in the post. Other than their 6-6 player we have the size advantage overall. They don't want to bang you down in the post so hopefully our post players have a big game."
Nici Gilday leads the Broncos with 13.6 ppg on 36.9% (38-103) shooting from the field. Gilday adds 4.1 rpg, 2.9 apg and 1.6 spg while playing a team-high 31.6 minutes per game. Vanessa Leo leads the team with 7.7 rpg while scoring 9.7 ppg on 49.1% (27-55) shooting. Leo is tied for the team lead with four blocks. Ruta Zurauskyte has seen action in all seven games and is averaging 6.1 ppg and 2.3 rpg while shooting 56.3% (18-32) from the floor.
Of the 35 starts for Santa Clara in 2013, 17 have been made by true freshmen. Jo Paine has started all seven games and is second on the team with 9.9 ppg while adding 4.4 rpg. Paine is shooting 52.0% (26-50) from the floor. Montana Walters had started all six games she has played and leads the team with 3.7 apg while scoring 7.7 ppg. Walters leads the team with 12 three's made and is adding 3.5 rpg. Marie Bertholdt has started the last four games and has played in all seven. She is averaging 9.6 ppg and 5.3 rpg while shooting a team-best 62.1% (18-29) from the floor. Bertholdt also leads the team in free throws made (31) and attempted (40) while shooting 77.5% (31-40) from the charity stripe.
Santa Clara is 15-22 all-time vs. Fresno State. Last season the teams met in the Leavey Center with the Broncos winning 58-53. The last meeting in Fresno came in 2011-12 when the Bulldogs won 83-71. The first meeting between the two teams came in 1977-78.
"Fresno State is a team that has traditionally done very well and made the NCAA Tournament numerous times," said Mountain. "They have a good dribble-drive offense that can get people in rhythm but everyone of their players is an outside threat. They've shot 40% from deep which is pretty good."
Fresno State enters the week with a 3-3 mark and is coming off a loss at Seton Hall. The Bulldogs scoring 67.2 ppg while shooting 38.4% (134-349) from the field. They shoot 36.1% (52-144) from deep and 70.3% (83-118) from the free throw line. Fresno State averages 37.8 rpg, 15.2 apg, 162 tpg, 9.2 spg and 3.2 bpg.
Taylor Thompson leads the Bulldogs in scoring with 15.0 ppg on 41.0% (25-61) shooting and 43.3% (13-30) from deep. Thompson adds 5.3 rpg and is leading the team with 3.2 spg and 4.5 apg. Bree Farley is averaging 11.3 ppg on 45.3% (24-53) shooting and 40.0% (8-20) from downtown. Farley brings down 3.8 rpg while adding 2.5 apg and 1.8 spg. Alex Sheedy is also averaging 11.3 ppg on 33.8% (24-71) from the field and 29.6% (8-27) from deep. Sheedy is second on the team with 5.7 rpg. Jacinta Vandenberg leads the team with 6.0 rpg and 2.3 bpg. Vandenberg scores 8.5 ppg on a team-high 48.8% (20-41) shooting.