Santa Clara Travels to Play at Hawkeye Challenge

Santa Clara Travels to Play at Hawkeye Challenge

Nov. 11, 2009

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SANTA CLARA (1-0) @ IOWA (0-0)
Saturday, Nov. 14, 2009 - 10 a.m. PT
Carver-Hawkeye Arena (15,500) - Iowa City, IA

THE HAWKEYE CHALLENGE | Official Tournament Page
Saturday, November 14
Santa Clara vs. Iowa - 10 a.m. PT
Illinois State vs. UCLA - 2:30 p.m. PT
Sunday, November 15
UCLA/Illinois State vs. Santa Clara - 9:30 a.m. PT
UCLA/Illinois State vs. Iowa - 12 p.m. PT

GAMES #2/3: Santa Clara travels to play at the University of Iowa's 24th annual KCRG-TV9 Hawkeye Challenge Saturday and Sunday, November 14-15. Tip-off for Saturday's game with Iowa is set for 10 a.m. PT, followed by a Sunday game with either UCLA or Illinois State at 9:30 a.m. PT

TV/RADIO/INTERNET: The Big Ten Network ( will be streaming Saturday's game in HD for a fee of $2.99. Iowa is also offering a live audio stream of Saturday's game for a fee on its official athletics website ( Live scoring for both Santa Clara games at the Hawkeye Challenge will available via GAMETRACKER on ( If SCU was to play Illinois State on Sunday, a free audio stream will be available on ( UCLA will offer a stream on (

# Jennifer Mountain is in her second season as Santa Clara head coach
# The Broncos easily defeated Sonoma State 73-43 in its season-opener
# Santa Clara held Sonoma State to 31 percent shooting in the victory
# SCU beat Cal State Monterey Bay 78-59 in its lone exhibition
# All-WCC forward Lena Gipson led the WCC in rebounding (9.9 pg) last season
# Gipson, who originally attended Arizona State, is one of the WCC's premier players
# Guard Alyssa Shoji is one of the top 3-point shooters in the WCC
# 12 of the Broncos' 16 players are underclassmen
# Six SCU freshmen made their collegiate debuts vs. Sonoma State
# Freshman starter Meagan Fulps was Colorado's 2009 5A `Player of the Year'
# Guard Becky Goll suffered a season-ending injury in last Tuesday's exhibition win over Cal State Monterey Bay
# SCU is 5-3 in its last eight road-openers
# Santa Clara has never played Iowa or Illinois State, SCU is 1-2 against UCLA
# Iowa and Illinois State were postseason tournament teams in 2009
# Santa Clara has won eight WCC Championships (last in 2006)
# The Broncos have been to six NCAA Tournaments and the WNIT five times
# SCU prides itself on its community service activities and academic excellence, spending time each week mentoring young girls at local elementary schools. The team GPA last season was 3.14.

SANTA CLARA: The Broncos are a very young team, having just two seniors on its roster. Three freshmen and two sophomores accounted for five of SCU's eight-man rotation against Sonoma State Saturday. Second-year head coach Jennifer Mountain is armed with one of the league's best post players in Fresno native Lena Gipson. The Broncos are trying to rebound from a 4-27 season a year ago. However, SCU did finish the year strong, posting a blow-out win in the first round of the 2009 WCC Tournament before falling in the quarterfinals.

IOWA/UCLA/ILLINOIS ST.: All three possible opponents at the Hawkeye Challenge promise to offer SCU its most difficult games of the season. Iowa, playing its season-opener, went 21-11 last season and made its 19th trip to the NCAA Tournament last March. Illinois State qualified for the 2009 WNIT, making it all the way to the Final Four and finishing its season 27-8. The Redbirds return nine players and eight upperclassmen. UCLA was 19-12 under first-year head coach Nikki Caldwell last season.

HEAD COACH JEN MOUNTAIN: Jennifer Mountain became the eighth Santa Clara head women's basketball coach in April 2008. Mountain came to the Mission Campus after serving seven seasons as the top assistant coach at Gonzaga, where she helped the Bulldogs to four-straight West Coast Conference regular-season championships and one WCC Tournament crown. The Santa Clara women's basketball team ended the 2008-09 season on a strong note as the Broncos advanced to the quarterfinals of the WCC Tournament after impressively defeating Saint Mary's 82-55. While at Gonzaga, Mountain helped turn the Bulldogs from a 2-12 WCC team in 2001-02 to four-time regular-season champions. Gonzaga advanced to the NCAA Tournament once and twice advanced to the Women's NIT, and in 2005 garnered the school's first national ranking. From 1994-2001, she served as the head boys' basketball coach at Saint George's School in Spokane, where they compiled a 134-62 overall record. A native of Portland, Ore., Mountain scored 1,422 points in her playing career at Gonzaga, where she was a three-time All-WCC honoree.

QUOTABLE: "Everyone talks about the first year being a transition year, but I almost feel like we are in our second transition year," said Mountain, who took over the SCU program in April of 2008. "We don't have a lot of returners with experience but we have so much more depth than last year. We are definitely more athletic, with a number of people that can make plays and make things happen for us."

PLAYING THE BEST: The Broncos play an extremely difficult early-season schedule, which begins this weekend in Iowa City. Road dates at the University of Oregon, West Virginia University, the University of Minnesota and Boise State, along with a home game against the University of Utah all follow SCU's two games at the Hawkeye Challenge.

LAST TIME OUT: Santa Clara held Sonoma State to 31 percent shooting and won its season-opener in dominating fashion, 73-43, Saturday at the Leavey Center. Lena Gipson, Alyssa Shoji and Maggie Goldenberger each finished with 12 points to pace a balanced Broncos offense. Gipson scored her first points late in the first half during a 12-3 Santa Clara run which put the Broncos up 35-17 at halftime. Sonoma State was limited to 16 points in the paint and made only 18 of 58 shots. Shoji's fast-break layup with 13:24 left put Santa Clara up by 24 and another moments later would put the Broncos up by 30.

GIPSON AMONG WCC ELITE: Santa Clara University junior Lena Gipson (Hanford, Calif./San Joaquin Memorial HS) was one of just 11 players recognized league-wide on the 2009-10 All-West Coast Conference preseason team. Gipson, a 6-foot power forward, was among the NCAA's top rebounders (9.9 per game) a year ago - leading the WCC in rebounding throughout the 2008-09 season. Gipson also led the Broncos in points (13.6 per game), steals (46) and blocks (18).

"I am really honored to be considered as a top player," said Gipson. "However, the team I'm most concerned with is the Santa Clara women's basketball team. We have a realistic chance of competing with every team in the WCC, but it's going to take 40 minutes of commitment from everyone each night. That is our focus right now."

FRESH FACES: Santa Clara has welcomed seven true freshmen to the Mission Campus - in fact, 12 of the team's 16 players are underclassmen. SCU is expecting a major contribution from Colorado's 2009 Class 5A `Player of the Year,' 5-foot-7 combo guard Meagan Fulps (Littleton, Colo./Highlands Ranch HS). Fulps led Highlands Ranch High School to three-straight Colorado state championship titles.

`Fulps, 6-foot-4 center Ruta Zurauskyte (Siauliai, Lithuania/Regis Jesuit [Colo.]), three-time all-state guard Ashley Armstrong (Reno, Nev./Bishop Manogue HS) and Southern California recruits' Telisha Anderson (Stanton, Calif./Magnolia HS), Noe Viloria (Garden Grove, Calif./Huntington Beach HS) and Becca Thomas (Riverside, Calif./Redwood HS) all begin their first seasons as collegiate players.

"I am really proud of the class we've brought in," said Jennifer Mountain. "We're much better than we were last year. We're different. I think we will be quicker, more athletic. Now we have an inside-outside game, so people won't be able to hone in on Lena (Gipson). That should open up things, allowing her to do a bit more."

NEW COACHES: Second-year Santa Clara head coach Jennifer Mountain has added two new assistant coaches to her 2009-10 staff. Former WNBA player and assistant coach at UC Santa Barbara Evan Unrau was hired in June of 2009. Her focus is on the development of SCU's post players. Marissa White, a 2004 graduate of Chico State, was added to Mountain's coaching staff in July of 2009. White was a standout player at Chico State and went on to spend three seasons working with the University of the Pacific's program as the Coordinator of Women's Basketball Operations.

`NO-KNEE': Santa Clara star forward Lena Gipson has undergone five unsuccessful knee surgeries since tearing her ACL early in her senior season at Fresno's San Joaquin Memorial High School. To this day she plays without an ACL in her left knee. Gipson originally attended Arizona State University before transferring to Fresno City College, where she was an All-America player as a redshirt freshman prior to attending Santa Clara.

IN THE COMMUNITY: Santa Clara University has a unique relationship with the community in the Bay Area. Through its affiliation with BAWSI (Bay Area Women's Sports Initiative), the Broncos have been afforded the opportunity to aid in the development of young girls as individuals and athletes. BAWSI is a public benefit, nonprofit corporation with a mission to create programs and partnerships through which women athletes bring health, hope and wholeness to our community. Bronco student-athletes spend time each week mentoring young girls at local elementary schools.

ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE: The Bronco program has a storied tradition of academic excellence in its 45 seasons of sponsoring women's basketball. Highlighted by 16 West Coast Conference All-Academic honorees, the Broncos have received numerous academic honors for their hard work both on and off the court. The team GPA last season was 3.14.

WCC 2010 ZAPPOS.COM BASKETBALL CHAMPIONSHIPS (LAS VEGAS, NV): Tickets for the 2010 West Coast Conference Men's and Women's Basketball Championships at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas are now on sale. The championships will span 4 days - March 5-8, 2010 - and include 14 men's and women's games, with tickets starting at less than $10 per game. The 2009 WCC Basketball Championships were the most highly anticipated championship event in Conference history, reaching a sell out two weeks prior to the tournament last March. The event set championship records for single session attendance (7,845) and overall championship attendance (33,320).

SANTA CLARA'S 'FASTBREAK CLUB' TO HOLD LUNCHEONS: The Santa Clara University women's basketball team, in conjunction with Mondo Burrito, will host a monthly luncheon featuring the team's coaches and players. Part of the program's 'Fastbreak Club,' the events are designed to offer fans and community members an inside look at the latest news and happenings within the Broncos' program. Dates: November 18th (Wednesday, 12 p.m.); December 9th (Wednesday, 12 p.m.); January - TBA; February TBA. To RSVP for the luncheon call Blake Malcolm at 408-554-5018.

NEXT HOME GAME: The Broncos' home-opener is set for Sunday, November 29 against the University of Utah at 2 p.m.

W, 78-59 - CAL STATE MONTEREY BAY (exhib.) (11/3)
W, 73-43 - SONOMA STATE (11/7)
@ Iowa (11/14)
vs. UCLA or Illinois State (11/15)
@ Oregon (11/24)

TICKETS: The SCU athletics department is offering a series of ticket specials for the 14-game home schedule. Season ticket packages start at just $50 for adults and $25 for youth and seniors. Season ticket reserved seating is new for 2009-10 and is being offered at the low price of $75 for the entire season. To purchase tickets or for more information contact 408-554-4660.