Dec. 12, 2006
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - The Santa Clara women's basketball team, fresh off of an 80-73 win over Fresno State last week, begins a trying three-game week Tuesday night at the Leavey Center as the team hosts the Pacific Tigers at 7 p.m. SCU then hits the road for a pair of games in Big 12 country, battling Kansas State Friday at 5 p.m. PT and closing the trip out with a battle against Kansas at 12 p.m. PT on Sunday.
The Broncos (5-4) got things back on track last Saturday night, defeating the Fresno State Bulldogs 80-73 to end a two-game skid and also snap a five-game losing streak to the Bulldogs. Saturday's win also marked the first time that SCU head coach Michelle Bento-Jackson defeated her alma mater, for which she starred in basketball and softball and graduated from in 1992.
Chandice Cronk, who scored 25 points in Saturday's win, remains atop the WCC scoring list with 17.9 points a game, while fellow guard Ashley Graham is fifth on the list with 14.1 points a game. Cronk also leads the WCC with 3.78 three-pointers per game and 49.3% shooting from beyond the arc, while Graham is right behind her with a 44.4% three-point shooting rate. Graham is also third in the WCC with 4.78 assists a game, and forward Jen Gottschalk is eighth in rebounding (6.6 rpg) and fifth in shooting percentage (49.2%).
Pacific (4-5) heads into the Leavey Center Tuesday night having won three of its last five, including a 62-60 victory over Southern Utah last Saturday. The Tigers are 1-2 against the WCC so far in 2006-07, and are led offensively by the play of Karen Dawkins underneath, as she leads the team in scoring (14.6 ppg) and rebounding (9.3 rpg). Guard Jake Kelly also provides a spark to the Tiger offense, averaging 14.1 points and 5.3 assists a game.
The Broncos lead the all-time series against Pacific, 21-15. SCU captured a 60-59 win in Stockton in the last meeting between the two schools, in the 2003-04 season, and has won six of the last seven.
Kansas State (8-1) is currently riding the momentum of a five-game winning streak, having defeated Louisiana Tech and UMKC last week to run their December record to a perfect 4-0. The Wildcats are led by the scoring of Kimberly Dietz (13.5 ppg) and Marlies Gipson (13.4 ppg), while Gipson averages a team-leading 8.5 rebounds a game as well.
The Wildcats have captured both meetings with the Broncos, with the first coming via a 66-64 victory in 1998-99 at the San Jose Arena, and the last coming a year ago, as K-State hit a school-record 15 three-pointers as the team routed the Broncos 100-71 at the Leavey Center. Friday's game will be the first between the schools in Manhattan.
Kansas (4-4) comes into Sunday's meeting with the Broncos on a three-game slide, having dropped a pair of games to South Dakota State and No. 16 California last week. The Jayhawks got off to a fast 4-1 start, but a winless December has brought them back down to .500. Forward Marija Zinic leads the team with 9.5 points and 5.9 rebounds a game, while Kelly Kohn (8.5 ppg), Danielle McCray (8.6 ppg), and LaChelda Jacobs (8.1 ppg) also contribute to the scoring effort.
The Broncos and Jayhawks have met once before in their histories, with Santa Clara grabbing a 58-57 victory in the semifinals of the 1991 WNIT in Amarillo, Texas. The Broncos used this win as a springboard to capturing the WNIT title the next night. Sunday's meeting will be SCU's first-ever trip to Allen Fieldhouse.