SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Heading back out on the road, Santa Clara women's basketball travels to San Diego on Thurs., Jan. 23 at 6 p.m. and BYU on Sat. Jan. 25 at 1 p.m. Pacific. Last week Santa Clara topped Portland 69-62 before dropping a close game to No. 23 Gonzaga 67-61. The Broncos are now 7-11 overall this season and 3-4 in WCC action.
"I was really pleased with our effort last week," said Santa Clara head coach Jennifer Mountain. "We can use that as momentum going into this road trip. In the last five weeks we've been playing a lot better and a lot more together. We're competing really hard for each other and this weekend was a great example of that. We made mistakes but withstood runs that in the past would have sunk us. I was very proud of our maturity factor."
Facing two of the top teams in the conference, this is a big weekend for Santa Clara to come away with a signature win that could help the team at the end of the season.
"A win or two this week would set us apart from the teams below us," said Mountain. "Also, getting that signature win to get over the hump would give us some momentum and would help keep us out of the play-in game in the conference tournament."
Santa Clara is averaging 70.4 points per game and is shooting 42.4% (441-1040) from the field. The Broncos are shooting 29.2% (80-274) from deep and 75.5% (305-404) from the free throw line. They are averaging 41.2 rebounds per game, 15.6 assists per game, 20.6 turnovers per game, 6.3 steals per game, and 2.9 blocks per game.
"Right now we're guarding the ball a lot better than earlier in the year," said Mountain. "Our intensity and urgency has been much better as well. We have been better with our rotations and our rebounding."
Nici Gilday leads the Broncos with 15.7 ppg, sixth in the WCC, on 41.1% (97-236) shooting from the field. Gilday adds 3.5 rpg while playing a team-high 33.2 minutes per game. She also leads the team in free throw percentage with an 85.7% mark while leading in makes (66) and attempts (77). Over the course of four games, Gilday made 26 straight from the free throw line, including 13-13 at LMU. Vanessa Leo is second on the team with 5.3 rpg while scoring 7.4 ppg on 43.0% (46-107) shooting. Ruta Zurauskyte has seen action in all 18 games and is second on the team with 11.2 ppg and adds 5.0 rpg while shooting 58.3% (77-132) from the floor, second in the conference. Zurauskyte leads the Broncos with 20 blocks.
After missing 14 games with a broken wrist suffered in practice, senior guard Ricki Radanovich returned to the floor vs. Pacific and immediately made her presences felt. Radanovich scored 11 points on 4-6 shooting and 2-4 from deep with two steals and a rebound.
Radanovich is averaging 7.3 ppg and 3.8 rpg while hitting six threes. She has added eight assists, two blocks, and three steals as well.
Of the 90 starts for Santa Clara in 2013, 43 have been made by true freshmen. Jo Paine from Oregon City, Ore., Montana Walters, also from Oregon City, Ore. and Marie Bertholdt of Alameda, Calif. have started 18, seven, and 15 games, respectively.
Paine has started every game and is third on the team with 10.6 ppg while adding 5.3 rpg. She had her first career double-double at Pepperdine on Jan. 2 when she set career highs with 28 points and 14 rebounds. Paine is shooting 46.7% (63-135) from the floor and leads the team with 22 threes made.
Walters has started seven games and leads the team with 3.0 apg while scoring 5.8 ppg. She is adding 2.6 rpg and has hit 13 threes but is currently out of the lineup with an injury.
Bertholdt has started the last 15 games and has played in all 18. She is averaging 7.9 ppg and a team-high 5.9 rpg while shooting 57.3% (43-75) from the floor. She set a career-high with 10 rebounds at Pepperdine on Jan. 2 and followed it up with 10 more at LMU on Jan. 4. Bertholdt is second on the the team in free throws made (57) and attempted (72), good for a 79.2% mark from the charity stripe.
Santa Clara is 32-31 all-time vs. San Diego with the first meeting coming in 1984-85. Last season the Broncos dropped both contests to San Diego.
The Toreros enter the week with a 16-2 overall mark and a 5-2 mark in WCC play. They beat BYU 60-45 at home last week in their only game of the week. They are 11-0 at home this season with both losses coming on the road. The two losses came on the same weekend at Portland and at Gonzaga. San Diego had started the season 15-0 before the trip to the Northwest.
"To beat San Diego we're going to have to bring the same mentality defensively as we did last week," said Mountain. "They're going to come at us with quite a bit of pressure so it will be important to take care of the ball in the full court as well. They're a very balanced basketball team so we just have to play a solid game. We're ready to go down there and the team is excited."
San Diego is averaging 70.3 ppg and is shooting 43.7% (479-1096) from the field. The Toreros are shooting 33.3% (65-195) from deep and 63.4% (242-382) from the free throw line. They are averaging 43.6 rpg, 13.4 apg, 16.7 tpg, 10.1 spg, and 4.6 bpg.
Amy Kame leads San Diego with 15.5 ppg on 42.9 (103-240) shooting from the field. She averages 5.7 rpg and leads the team with 3.7 spg and 2.2 spg. Katelyn McDaniel is tops on San Diego with 8.1 rpg while scoring 10.3 ppg with an 84.6% (22-26) mark from the free throw line. Sophia Ederaine is second in the WCC with 2.4 bpg and is scoring 8.3 ppg on 53.0% (62-117) shooting from the field and adding 7.2 rpg.
Santa Clara is 1-6 all-time vs. BYU with the first meeting coming in 1998-99. Last season the Broncos lost both matchups with BYU.
The Cougars enter the week with a 14-4 overall mark and a 4-3 mark in WCC play. Last week they lost at San Diego 60-45 in their lone game of the week. BYU started the season 9-0 before a double-overtime loss to Utah at home.
BYU is averaging 70.3 ppg and is shooting 43.3% (431-995) from the field. The Cougars are shooting 35.7% (112-314) from deep and 69.1% (291-421) from the free throw line. They are averaging 41.2 rpg, 16.9 apg, 17.7 tpg, 6.1 spg, and 5.8 bpg.
"We matchup better with BYU than most people because of our size," said Mountain. "We'll use both Ruta and Vanessa to push Hamson off the block. A lot of teams end up fronting her because they don't have size. We can make her make baskets overhand. We've done a decent job against her for the majority of games in the past but we have to keep her off the block and go at her offensively. We need to be aggressive at go at her."
Jennifer Hamson is second in the conference and leads BYU with 17.6 ppg on a conference-best 59.1% (120-203) shooting from the field. Hamson is third in the WCC with 10.2 rpg and leads the conference with 3.8 bpg. Lexi Eaton is scoring 15.4 ppg while adding 2.1 spg and 4.3 rpg. Kim Beeston scores 11.3 ppg on 40.7% (50-123) shooting from three. She leads the conference in threes made and is third in three-point field goal percentage. Beeston also leads BYU with 3.4 apg and 1.3 spg.