SCU Women Aim to Capitalize on Early-Season Home Schedule

SCU Women Aim to Capitalize on Early-Season Home Schedule

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The Santa Clara University women's basketball team looks to take advantage of its early-season home schedule this week when they host Northern Colorado Wednesday, Nov. 16 and Southern Utah on Friday, Nov. 18. Both games will tip-off at 7:05 p.m. at Santa Clara's Leavey Center, 500 El Camino Real, Santa Clara Campus.

Game Notes Week #2 - Nov. 14-20, 2011

Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2011 • 7 p.m.
Game #3 • Home Game #2  • Santa Clara, Calif.
Live Video | Live Stats

Friday, Nov. 18, 2011 • 7 p.m.
Game #4 • Home Game #3  • Santa Clara, Calif.
Live Video | Live Stats

* Santa Clara is led by fourth year head coach Jennifer Mountain
* The Broncos are in the midst of playing 5 of their first 6 games at home
* SCU is 1-1 this season, beating CSUB 93-87 at home last Friday before losing a close game to Fresno State on the road
* SCU returns All-WCC guards Alyssa Shoji, Meagan Fulps & Ricki Radanovich
* Alyssa Shoji was named to the 2011-12 Preseason All-WCC team
* Shoji needs just 27 more points to reach 1,000 for her career and with four more 3FG she would reach 200 for her career (only four players in school history have made 200+)  
* Fulps matched a career-high with 30 points and set an SCU record by making 17 FT's in the season-opening win over CSUB
* ESPN ranked the incoming class of new freshmen No. 56 nationally
* Starting post players Ruta Zurauskyte and Ashley Armstrong have filled in nicely for the departed graduate Lena Gipson, the Broncos' record-setting forward, who is now playing professionally in Europe
* SCU lost @ UNO (65-57) and @ Southern Utah (80-67) last season
* Both Northern Colorado (0-1) and Southern Utah (0-1) lost their season-openers and will come to the Leavey Center looking for their first win 

Season tickets start at just $40 for youth/seniors and $50 for adults.  Single-game tickets start at just $5. For the best value, purchase a Family Plan for $100. The Family Plan includes two adult and three youth tickets to each and every home game. Tickets are available for purchase online at or by calling the ticket office directly at 408-554-4660.

Santa Clara University, and its women's basketball program, has teamed up with the Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties to help distribute food to people in need this winter season. Your non-perishable food donations will be accepted at upcoming women's basketball games at the main spectator entrances of Santa Clara University's Leavey Center, 500 El Camino Real, Santa Clara Campus.


Jennifer Mountain has more scoring threats than she's ever had in her three-plus years as Santa Clara's head coach, which includes guards Alyssa Shoji, Meagan Fulps, Ricki Radanovich, Nici Gilday and Ashley Armstrong. Gilday is part of an incoming class of freshmen that ESPN tabbed as one of the nation's best. Santa Clara scored 93 points in a season-opening win over CSU Bakersfield last week. The team's schedule sets up well, as the Broncos are playing five of their first six games at home. Mountain and her staff have developed junior center Ruta Zurauskyte into a legitimate low-post threat, who along with Armstrong, has done a nice job thus far in the paint. The Broncos are aiming for continued improvement after finishing in a tie for fourth in the WCC last March, going 11-19 overall and 6-6 at home.

The Bears are one of the best teams in the Big Sky Conference and have one of the best players in that league, sophomore guard D'shara Strange. Strange recorded the second triple-double in UNO history in the team's opening-season loss at Bradley 59-49. Strange had a team-high 13 points, 12 rebounds and a school record 11 steals in that game. Sixth-year head coach Jaime White has transformed UNO from a 5-24 team in her first season to the reigning Big Sky champs. She returns eight letterwinners and has five newcomers on her 2011-12 team that was picked to finish second behind Portland State in the preseason league poll, voted upon by the Big Sky coaches.

Wednesday marks the first-ever home game for SCU against Northern Colorado. In the first meeting between the schools last year in Greely, the Bears held off a second-half Broncos rally to win 65-57.  Alyssa Shoji led SCU with 16 points and Lindsay Leo added 12, helping the Broncos tie the game with 12 minutes left.

The Thunderbirds are coached by former Santa Clara assistant JR Payne, who not only coached with Jennifer Mountain at SCU but also as an assistant at Gonzaga. Now in her third season as a head coach at SSU, Payne is looking to build on one of the Thunderbirds' best-ever seasons of 16-14 in 2010-11. Payne's 2011 squad also had one of their best seasons as a member of the Summit League, posting a 10-8 record to finish fifth. SSU dropped a 74-60 decision on the road at Utah on Sunday.

The Broncos are 1-1 all time against the Thunderbirds, with both teams winning on their home floors.  Last year, Santa Clara went down 80-67 in Cedar City.  The offense created a good amount of open looks, but the team struggled from behind the arc shooting making just 5 of 17 three-point attempts. That loss on Dec. 13, 2011 dropped SCU to 0-8 and was the low-point of the Broncos 2010-11 season. SCU finished 11-11 the rest of the way.

'JMO' became the eighth Santa Clara University head women's basketball coach in April 2008. Mountain led the Broncos to a top-tier finish in the WCC standings in 2010-11 and for the third-straight year won at least one postseason game at the conference tournament. Her SCU teams have showed marked improved in her three seasons thus far. 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 WCC regular season championships and one WCC tournament crown. "Jen understands what Santa Clara is all about," said SCU Athletic Director Dan Coonan. "It's about competitive basketball but it's about so much more than that. Educating men and women for competence, conscience, and compassion -- that's what Santa Clara really stands for. We believe that and live that here. I think Jen is the perfect person who embodies those kinds of values."

The Jen Mountain File:

• Head Coach - Santa Clara University (2008-pres.)
• Assistant Coach- Gonzaga University (2001-08)
• Boys Head Coach - St. George's School (1994-2001)
• Amateur Player - Gonzaga University (1987-91)

Fueled by a team-high 20 points from Alyssa Shoji, who made 6 of 8 attempts from three-point range, visiting Santa Clara hung tough with perennial NCAA tournament qualifiers and reigning WAC Champions Fresno State Sunday, but the Bulldogs hung on for an 83-71 victory.

Santa Clara (1-1) was coming off a season-opening victory over CSU Bakersfield, in which they scored 93 points Friday night at the Leavey Center. Fresno State (1-1) bounced back from losing a close game at USC in its opener on the road. High-scoring Bronco junior guard Meagan Fulps, who matched a career-high with 30 Friday night, scored 14 Sunday, including a go-ahead lay up with 27 seconds left before halftime to put SCU up 35-34.

The Bulldogs got a big boost from Washington State transfer Ki-Ki Moore, who made nine baskets en route to a 28-point performance in her home debut in Fresno.

2011-12 WCC STANDINGS (Nov. 14)
1. San Diego (1-0)    
T2. Gonzaga (1-1)    
T2. Santa Clara (1-1)   
T2. St. Mary's (1-1)  
T2. Portland (1-1) 
T2. San Francisco (1-1)   
T2. BYU (1-1) 
T7. Pepperdine (0-1)   
T7. LMU (0-2) 

Santa Clara University senior guard Alyssa Shoji was named a preseason All-West Coast Conference player. The final-year Bronco from Bellevue, Wash., is Santa Clara's lone senior and starting point guard who played more minutes per night (34.8) than any other player in the WCC last season. She enters her senior year needing just 60 more points to reach 1,000 for her career (only 19 players in SCU history have reached this milestone). Additionally, Shoji is on pace to become Santa Clara's all-time leader in 3-point baskets made. She's undoubtedly been one of the best shooters in the WCC over the past three seasons.


Player School Yr. Pos.

Dominique Conners San Diego Sr. G
Alex Cowling Loyola Marymount RS-Jr. G/F
Natalie Day Portland Sr. G/F
Jazmine Jackson Pepperdine Sr. G
Katelan Redmon Gonzaga Sr. G/F
Kristen Riley BYU Sr.  F
Alyssa Shoji Santa Clara Sr. G

Jasmine Smith Saint Mary's RS-Sr. G
Kayla Standish Gonzaga Sr. F
ReZina TecleMariam Portland Sr. G

"If you would have told me we would score in the nineties tonight I would have been pretty surprised," said  SCU head coach Jennifer Mountain after the Broncos season-opening win over CSU Bakersfield. "This game was a battle, one we had to tough out. Down ten, up ten, having them comeback multiple times during the game tells us a lot about the character of our kids and their effort."

The Broncos have shot 54.2 and 51.1 percent respectively in their first two games. Those numbers are excellent, considering the fact that last season the top shooting clip all season was 47.1 against Pepperdine at home.

The Santa Clara women's basketball team climbed up the league standings in 2010-11, finishing in a tie for fourth after winning 4 of 7 WCC games at home and winning 11 games overall. Jen Mountain's team closed out the season with a 9-9 record in their last 18 games, including winning back-to-back WCC games twice and beating rival USF at the WCC tournament in March.


No. 8 Gonzaga $ (14-0/31-5)
Saint Mary's % (10-4/19-13)
Pepperdine % (9-5/18-12)
Portland (6-8/16-15)
Santa Clara (6-8/11-19)
Loyola Marymount (5-9/11 18)
San Diego 5-9/17-14
San Francisco 1-13/4-25

# Rankings by ESPN Coaches Poll
! NCAA Tournament Elite Eight
^ WNIT First Round

The Bronco program is welcoming in one of the nation's top recruiting classes, according to The class includes guards Nici Gilday and Tyler Woods along with frontcourt players Vanessa Leo (sister of current SCU teammate Lindsay Leo) and Colleen Rooney.

A year ago, SCU posted a winning record against WCC teams on its home floor and tied for fourth in the league standings. The Broncos are set to begin the new season by playing five of six on their home floor at the Leavey Center.

Santa Clara University has received a National Letter of Intent from Katie Hawkins, a 5-foot-10 guard from Snohomish, Wash. and senior at Glacier Peak High School. Hawkins can really distribute the basketball, dishing out 4.2 assists per game last season, while averaging 12.5 points. writes 'Uncommon size and skill-set combination makes Hawkins not only a big point guard, but a player who can handle the other perimeter positions and provide a low-post element to each. At the point, she can make all the passes, including putting the ball on a laser from 3/4 court.' Hawkins was a First Team 3A All-WesCo league honoree last season. She led Glacier Peak to a 15-11 overall record and an appearance in the 2011 Washington State tournament at the Tacoma Dome. As a sophomore, Hawkins stepped up and was instrumental to the Grizzlies run in the district playoffs.

Record-setting SCU women's basketball alumna Lena Gipson '11 has signed a contract to play professionally in the Southern European island country of Malta. Gipson will be playing for Hibernians Medsea and former men's Italian National Team Head Coach Bruno Di Pietrantonio.

"My time at Santa Clara, as well as at the other universities that I've played at, and believing through injury, has reaffirmed the thought that through hard work and determination anything is possible," said Gipson. "Do not be discouraged, do not let yourself be deterred; if you set your mind to it you can achieve goals that you had never thought possible."

Gipson had been told that she wouldn't even be able to play recreational basketball after a major knee injury during her senior year of high school at San Joaquin Memorial near her hometown of Hanford, Calif.

Brigham Young University has left the Mountain West Conference for the 2011-12 season, going independent in football and join the West Coast Conference in all other sports, most notably men's and women's basketball. The Cougars return seven letterwinners from a team that won its third and final MWC regular season title and advanced to the final 16 of the WNIT last season.

The West Coast Conference will return to Las Vegas in 2012 for the WCC Basketball Championships February 29 through March 5. The #8 and #9 seeds will compete in the opening rounds to determine who will advance to the next round of the tournament. The #5 seed will then compete against the winner of the opening round. Waiting for the winners in the quarterfinals will be the #3 and #4 seeds, who will have first round byes. The winners of the quarterfinal match-ups will go head-to-head with the #1 and #2 seeds, who will have byes through the first two rounds of the tournament. Tickets are on sale now.