SANTA CLARA, Calif. – With the regular season in the rearview mirror, Santa Clara women's basketball heads to Las Vegas for the West Coast Conference Tournament. The Broncos will face Pepperdine at 12 p.m. on Thurs., March 6 at the Orleans Arena. The Broncos are the No. 7 seed with an overall record of 10-19 and a 6-12 mark in WCC play while Pepperdine is the 10th seed with an overall record of 5-24 and a WCC record of 1-17. The matchup will be broadcast live on BYUtv and TheW.tv and will be called by Spencer Linton and Kristen Kozlowski. The winner will advance to play second-seeded BYU Fri., March 7 at 2 p.m. with the same broadcast schedule.
"The tournament atmosphere is amazing and the size of the venue is perfect for women's basketball," said Santa Clara head coach Jennifer Mountain. "The WCC puts on a terrific tournament in a tremendous arena. Everyone is excited for what can happen and the neutral site gives the games a different feel. We're going to go in trying to do some damage and anyone can be beat on any given night in this conference."
Santa Clara is averaging 66.7 points per game and is shooting 41.7% (677-1625) from the field. The Broncos are shooting 30.1% (131-435) from deep and 76.2% (448-588) from the free throw line. They are averaging 37.8 rebounds per game, 13.9 assists per game, 19.8 turnovers per game, 6.3 steals per game, and 2.6 blocks per game.
Nici Gilday leads the Broncos with 16.7 ppg on 42.3% (169-400) shooting from the field. Gilday adds 3.0 rpg while playing a team-high 33.3 minutes per game. She is also second in the conference in free throw percentage with an 87.6% mark while leading the Broncos in makes (113) and attempts (129). Over the course of four games, Gilday made 26 straight from the free throw line, including 13-13 at LMU. She had a career-day vs. LMU on Feb. 27 when she dropped a program-best 40 points. She followed it up with 22 vs. Pepperdine en route to being named WCC Player of the Week. Vanessa Leo is third on the team with 4.4 rpg while scoring 5.8 ppg on 41.6% (62-149) shooting. Ruta Zurauskyte has seen action in all 29 games and is shooting 55.1% (92-167) from the floor, third in the conference. Zurauskyte leads the Broncos with 23 blocks.
"Ricki got us going against Pepperdine and hit some big threes. Ruta was a huge post presence that they had trouble guarding," said Mountain. "She played well against them the first time around also. I'm looking forward to both of them having good games and good weeks."
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 5.7 ppg and 2.9 rpg while hitting 18 threes, fourth on the team. She has added 21 assists, five blocks, and 14 steals as well. She had her best game since returning on Senior Day when she scored 13 points on 3-8 shooting from deep with three steals, three rebounds, and two assists.
Of the 145 starts for Santa Clara in 2013-14, 71 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 229, 13, and 26 games, respectively.
Paine has started every game and is second on the team with 10.1 ppg and 4.7 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 45.1% (106-235) from the floor and leads the team in threes made and three-point percentage at 38.0% (34-107). Her efforts got her named to the WCC All-Freshman Team.
Walters has started 13 games and averages 3.1 apg while scoring 6.8 ppg. She is adding 2.2 rpg and has hit 30 threes. Walters set a career-high on Feb. 15 with 20 points at San Francisco. She nailed a three to give Santa Clara the lead with time winding down and iced the game with two free throws. A week later she set a new career-high with 26 points at Saint Mary's in the Broncos upset of the Gaels on the road. She drained five threes and added seven assists.
Bertholdt has started the last 26 games and has played in all 29. She is averaging 6.9 ppg and a team-high 5.8 rpg while shooting 50.8% (61-120) 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 (78) and attempted (98), good for a 79.6% mark from the charity stripe.
Santa Clara is 33-34 all-time vs. Pepperdine with the first meeting coming in 1978-79. Just last week Santa Clara beat Pepperdine 67-61 on Senior Day at the Leavey Center. Earlier this season the Waves took down the Broncos 100-93 in double overtime.
The Waves wrapped-up the regular season with an overall record of 5-24 with a 1-17 mark in conference play and enter the tournament as the No. 10 seed. The Waves also fell at San Francisco last week 75-61.
"It's going to be a pretty quick turnaround considering we just played Pepperdine," said Mountain. "We need to make a couple defensive adjustments. I didn't think we played particularly great on Saturday but we did play well enough to get the win. Our rebounding has to be better and we have to do a better job of scoring the ball. We missed a lot of open shots, especially early in the game. At this point everything is back to 0-0 so we have to show up and make some noise."
Pepperdine is averaging 64.3 ppg and is shooting 38.7% (678-1750) from the field. The Waves are shooting 33.2% (133-401) from deep and 70.7% (377-533) from the free throw line. They are averaging 37.4rpg, 12.5 apg, 15.2 tpg, 6.7 spg, and 2.1 bpg.
Bria Richardson leads Pepperdine with 16.9 ppg but has played in just 17 games and is currently out with injury. Richardson adds 2.6 spg and 3.7 rpg while shooting a team-high 44.2% (110-249) from the field. Ea Shoushtari is tops on the team with 6.7 rpg and is scoring 11.4 ppg. Shoushtari also leads the Waves in threes made with 57 and assists with 3.1 apg. Keitra Wallace is averaging 12.3 ppg and has hit 123 free throws. She is grabbing 4.9 rpg along with adding 2.8 apg. Allie Green is the fourth member of the Waves averaging double figures with 11.3 ppg. Green adds 4.3 rpg.