SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Coming off a tough four-game road trip vs. three of the top teams in the West Coast Conference, Santa Clara women's basketball returns to the Leavey Center for a pair of games. The Broncos play BYU Thurs., Feb. 6 at 7 p.m. and San Diego at 2 p.m. on Sat., Feb. 8. Last week Santa Clara fell at No. 23 Gonzaga and at Portland. The Broncos are now 7-15 overall and 3-8 in WCC play.
At halftime of the San Diego game, Santa Clara will honor the jerseys of two Bronco greats in Caren Choppelas Horstmeyer '84 and Liz Bruno '82. Bruno is the only women's basketball player in Santa Clara history with 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds. Choppelas finished her time at Santa Clara No. 1 on the all-time scoring list and currently sits at No. 3. She was also the head coach of the Broncos from 1989-2000 and led the team to the 1991 WNIT title.
"We're working on competing in practice this week," said Santa Clara head coach Jennifer Mountain. " We're doing a lot of competition drills, rebounding and just working hard. We've had really good moments in the last five weeks defensively but we need to get the ball inside to our posts to be productive on the other end. That's a huge key because if your post players are being productive, it takes a little bit of pressure off the guards and the perimeter players. Last week we just didn't have any post production."
Santa Clara is averaging 66.3 points per game and is shooting 40.8% (502-1230) from the field. The Broncos are shooting 29.1% (96-330) from deep and 76.5% (358-468) from the free throw line. They are averaging 39.0 rebounds per game, 14.3 assists per game, 20.6 turnovers per game, 6.1 steals per game, and 2.8 blocks per game.
"We're playing a really tough stretch on our schedule right now," said Mountain. "We're playing three of the top four teams in the conference as well as Portland who's playing pretty well right now. Our mindset is okay and I think we are ready to be home. We had a meeting yesterday and practiced a little bit. I thought it was good and I'm looking forward to practice today where we can focus on playing BYU on Thursday."
Nici Gilday leads the Broncos with 14.2 ppg on 38.6% (108-280) shooting from the field. Gilday adds 3.0 rpg while playing a team-high 32.4 minutes per game. She also leads the team in free throw percentage with an 86.0% mark while leading in makes (74) and attempts (86). Over the course of four games, Gilday made 26 straight from the free throw line, including 13-13 at LMU. Vanessa Leo is third on the team with 4.9 rpg while scoring 6.3 ppg on 38.4% (48-125) shooting. Ruta Zurauskyte has seen action in all 22 games, starting the last 14, and is third on the team with 9.7 ppg and adds 4.6 rpg while shooting 54.6% (83-152) from the floor, third 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 5.9 ppg and 3.0 rpg while hitting 10 threes, already fourth on the team. She has added nine assists, four blocks, and five steals as well.
Of the 110 starts for Santa Clara in 2013-14, 52 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 22, eight, and 19 games, respectively.
Paine has started every game and is second on the team with 10.5 ppg and 5.0 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 45.5% (81-178) from the floor and leads the team threes made and three-point percentage at 39.5% (30-76).
Walters has started eight games and averages 2.5 apg while scoring 6.0 ppg. She is adding 2.1 rpg and has hit 19 threes. Walters set a career-high in her first start since Dec. 30 at Portland when she scored 11 points.
Bertholdt has started the last 19 games and has played in all 22. She is averaging 9.7 ppg and a team-high 5.6 rpg while shooting 55.6% (45-81) 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 team in free throws made (65) and attempted (80), good for a 81.3% mark from the charity stripe.
Santa Clara is 1-7 all-time vs. BYU and 1-3 at the Leavey Center with the first meeting coming in 1998-99. Earlier this season the Cougars took down the Broncos in Provo.
The Cougars enter the week with a 17-5 overall mark and are tied for third in the WCC with a record of 7-4. Last week BYU fell at Saint Mary's before bouncing back with a big 88-57 win at Pacific.
BYU is averaging 71.1 ppg and is shooting 43.7% (530-1214) from the field. The Cougars are shooting 35.6% (136-382) from deep and 70.6% (369-523) from the free throw line. They are averaging 41.9 rpg, 16.9 apg, 17.0 tpg, 5.9 spg, and 6.2 bpg.
"It's nice being home against BYU for this matchup," said Mountain. "I thought we did a great job against Hamson in that first game and now we have to make sure we take care of their other post player. We can't allow Bailey to get in position too early down low and get some looks. We also have to contain their guards. Their guards are pretty streaky in shooting the three so we have to make them make decisions on the move and not allow a strong post presence down low."
Jennifer Hamson leads BYU, and is fourth in the conference, with 17.2 ppg on a WCC-leading 58.2% (142-244) shooting from the field. Hamson leads the WCC with 10.8 rpg and a whopping 4.1 bpg. Lexi Eaton scores 16.1 ppg and is shooting 36.0% (31-86) from three. Eaton is grabbing 4.1 rpg and is second on the team with 19 steals. Kim Beeston leads the Cougars with 3.5 apg and scores 11.8 ppg. Beeston leads the WCC in threes made with 63 and is third in percentage at 40.6% (63-155). She pulls down 4.2 rpg with 1.2 spg.
Santa Clara is 32-32 all-time vs. San Diego and 19-11 at the Leavey Center with the first meeting coming in 1984-85. Earlier this season the Broncos fell to the Toreros on the road.
The Toreros are tied with BYU for third in the conference with a record of 7-4 and an 18-4 overall record. Last week San Diego suffered back-to-back losses at Pacific and at Saint Mary's. The only other time the Toreros lost back-to-back games this season was at Portland and at Gonzaga.
San Diego is averaging 70.8 ppg and is shooting 43.2% (586-1357) from the field. The Toreros are shooting 33.1% (81-245) from deep and 65.0% (305-469) from the free throw line. They are averaging 43.2 rpg, 13.2 apg, 16.4 tpg, 9.9 spg, and 4.7 bpg.
"I thought we did a decent job in the beginning of our first game with San Diego sharing the ball and pushing tempo," said Mountain. "The key for that game is going to be rebounding and inside play. We did not keep Ederaine off the boards and she really hurt us in the second half. We also need to be aggressive at the rim and attacking. We looked at getting to the rim off the bounce and we got some easy opportunities to get the ball to our bigs. So we got to have a good inside and outside presence this weekend whether it's San Diego or BYU to have success."
Amy Kame leads San Diego with 15.7 ppg on 429% (130-303) shooting from the field. She also leads the team with 3.8 apg and 2.0 spg while adding 6.0 rpg. Felicia Wijenberg is tops on the San Diego team with a 49.5% (99-200) mark from the field and is scoring 11.2 ppg. Wijenberg is third on the team with 7.5 rpg. Sophia Ederaine has mostly come off the bench and is adding a team-best 2.4 bpg, good for second in the WCC. Ederaine is shooting a team-high 52.6% (81-154) from the floor while scoring 9.1 9.1 ppg.