SCU Women Face San Diego and USF This Week on the Road

SCU Women Face San Diego and USF This Week on the Road

SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Santa Clara is looking to avenge a previous loss this season to San Diego when the two teams meet Thursday at 7 p.m. in the Jenny Craig Pavilion at USD. A local rivalry matchup follows Saturday afternoon when SCU visits War Memorial Gym and the Dons of USF. Tip-off Saturday is set for 2 p.m.

Game Notes - Feb. 2/4, 2012
SANTA CLARA (8-13; 1-7) @ SAN DIEGO (15-5; 6-2)

Thursday, Feb. 2, 2012 • 7 p.m.
Game #22 • Road Game #10  • San Diego, Calif.
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SANTA CLARA @ USF (4-18; 2-7)*

Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012 • 2 p.m.
Game #23 • Road Game #11  • San Francisco, Calif.
*USF will host LMU Thursday, Feb. 2
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* Santa Clara is led by fourth-year head coach Jennifer Mountain
* The Broncos nearly upset No. 23 BYU Saturday, but have now lost six-straight going 1-6 during the month of January
* SCU has gone 2-9 since losing 6-foot, 4-inch C Ruta Zurauskyte (12.8 ppg/7.8 rpg) to season-ending injury in mid-December
* Santa Clara is 0-11 this season when they score less than 70 points
* In 17 of 21 games this season, SCU has made more 3s than its opponent; the Broncos rank No. 10 nationally in 3PT FG per game (7.7)  
* USD out-rebounded SCU 54-36 on Jan. 9; the Broncos have been out-rebounded in 5 of their last 6 games
* SCU is 2-7 on the road (0-3 vs. WCC on road)
* San Diego is limiting opponents to 52.5 points at the JCP; USD is 9-3 at home and rank No. 9 among NCAA teams in FG% defense (33.6)
* USD defeated SCU 58-41 on Jan. 9 at the Leavey Center
* USF stunned SMC at War Memorial last week with a 66-64 buzzer-beating win; the Dons enter the week 4-18 overall (2-8 at home)

Free live video will be streamed online for both games this week and links will available on Santa Clara's official athletics website ( Additionally, Sam Farber (play-by-play) will be calling all the action via a live pay-per-view audio feed on (

The Broncos (8-13; 1-7 WCC) got off to their best start in over 10 years when they beat Cal State Northridge on the road to improve to 6-1 on Dec. 1. But a couple weeks later, 6-foot, 4-inch starting center Ruta Zurauskyte (12.8 ppg/7.8 rpg) suffered a season-ending injury and the Broncos have gone 2-9 since. Junior F Lindsay Leo was inserted into the starting lineup following Zurauskyte's injury, and has responded well, averaging 13.4 points and 9.6 rebounds during those last 11 games. However, Santa Clara went from being the WCC's top scoring team (80.0 points per game on Dec. 8) to averaging 58.8 since league play began on Dec. 31. Senior G Alyssa Shoji (15.1 ppg) is making 3.4 three-pointers per game, which ranks No. 5 nationally. Junior Meagan Fulps (11.3 ppg) was terrific Saturday against BYU, making her first seven field goal attempts and initial seven free throws before finally missing her last two shots from the floor. She finished with 24 points for a Bronco team that is looking for more consistency. Fulps had scored just 7 and was 3 for 12 from the field two nights earlier in a 72-52 loss at St. Mary's.

"We are so close to breaking out," said SCU head coach Jennifer Mountain after a close loss to nationally-ranked BYU Saturday. "It comes down to consistency and making big plays when it matters down the stretch. I think you can see, talent-wise, we are right there from breaking out and really getting it going."

The Toreros (15-5; 6-2 WCC) are enjoying a successful season under seventh-year head coach Cindy Fisher and are fresh off routing Pepperdine 70-39 at the JCP. USD has won 3 of 4, with the only loss coming to Gonzaga, 55-44 on Jan. 21. San Diego's defense has been outstanding, holding opponents to just 52.5 points per game at home. USD has gone 9-3 at home this season and rank No. 9 among NCAA teams in FG% defense (33.6). All-WCC senior G Dominique Conners (15.3 ppg) and senior classmate Morgan Woodrow (15.0 ppg) are providing USD with 30 of the team's 68 points per night.    

At the Leavey Center on Jan. 10, USD led by six in the opening moments of the second half, 33-27, and then held Santa Clara scoreless for a nine-minute stretch to build up an 18-point lead and beat SCU 58-41. The Broncos split their two games against the Toreros last season and own the all-time series edge 32-28.  SCU is 2-6 against San Diego under Jennifer Mountain, which included a buzzer-beating WCC tournament victory two years ago.

The Dons (4-18; 2-7 WCC) came up with a big win last week at home against St. Mary's, 66-64. Junior Mel Khlok scored 32 points and had six steals in that game - USF's first win over SMC since 2005. Women's Basketball Hall of Famer Jennifer Azzi is in her second season coaching on the Hilltop and is looking to continue to improve on the Don's 1-13 WCC record from a year ago. Senior Rheina Ale (14.0 ppg/4.7 rpg) is leading the team in scoring and is now ranked among USF's all-time top 10 in five different statistical categories. USF will host LMU Thursday, Feb. 2 prior to the game with Santa Clara Saturday.
The Broncos are 48-35 all time against the Dons. Under Jennifer Mountain the team is 5-2 against USF and is currently on a three-game winning streak.  The last time they met was last year in the first round of the WCC tournament, a 62-58 Bronco win in Las Vegas.  Alyssa Shoji had a season-high 18 points in that tournament game last March. Santa Clara has played San Francisco more than any other team in the program's 47-year history.

'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)

2011-12 WCC STANDINGS (Jan. 31)
Team (WCC) Overall
T1. No. 23 BYU (8-1) 20-3
T1. No. 20 Gonzaga (8-1) 19-3
3. San Diego (6-2) 15-5
4. Saint Mary's (7-3) 16-7
5. Pepperdine (5-4) 10-10
T6. LMU (2-7) 6-15
T6. San Francisco (2-7) 4-18
8. Santa Clara (1-7) 8-13
9. Portland (1-8) 8-15

Santa Clara has played five teams ranked or listed among the AP's Top 25 this season. WCC members No. 20 Gonzaga (19-3) and No. 22 BYU (20-3); and non-conference opponents who are all receiving votes: California (15-6), Princeton (13-4) and Fresno State (17-4).  

From Jan. 3 through Jan. 15, Alyssa Shoji, Santa Clara University's women's basketball point guard, led all NCAA Division I players in three-point shooting. The senior from Bellevue, Wash. averaged 3.9 makes per game at the time, ranking No. 1 nationally in the NCAA and her shooting percentage came in at No. 1 as well (at her current pace both will be new single-season school records).

Alyssa Shoji, SCU's All-WCC senior guard from Bellevue, Wash., broke SCU's all-time 3-point shooting record of 244 set by Chandice Cronk '08 when she made five 3s on Thursday, Jan. 5 against Portland. Shoji is leaving quite a mark on the Bronco record book, ranking among SCU's all-time top 10 in points, assists, 3s, FT% and minutes. She is on pace to establish new single-season program records in 3s and 3PT % this season.  

Santa Clara's 96 points in its 20-point win over Sacramento State Dec. 22 was a season-high and most since Dec. 28, 2005. The point-total was also the second-highest on the road in school history, approaching the all-time road scoring record of 99 set in 1991 at Portland. The 96 points was the seventh-most in school history overall.

Fourth-year Santa Clara head coach Jennifer Mountain and her Broncos got off to a 6-1 start this season, the program's best since SCU went 9-0 to open the 1999-2000 campaign. The team scored over 80 points per game during that stretch, which ranked among the NCAA's leading offenses. Five of those wins came on their home floor at Santa Clara's Leavey Center.

A year ago, SCU posted a winning record against WCC teams on its home floor and tied for fourth in the league standings. That momentum carried over into the new season, with the Broncos winning all five of their early-season home games. Wins against CSU Bakersfield (Nov. 11), Northern Colorado (Nov. 16), Southern Utah (Nov. 18), Long Beach State (Nov. 21) and UC Davis (Nov. 28) at the Leavey Center has SCU off to a perfect 5-0 start at home and a 5-1 overall record.

Junior guard Meagan Fulps established a new SCU school record by making 17 of 20 free throws in the Broncos' season-opening victory over CSU Bakersfield (Nov. 11). The 17 makes was a new record, breaking the previous mark of 15 set by SCU legends Melissa King '93 and Christine Silvernail '94.

Following a 33-point, 13-rebound performance at UC Irvine (Dec. 3) and a 17-point effort in a victory at Cal State Northridge (Dec. 1), Santa Clara University junior Ruta Zurauskyte was named Jesuit Basketball's National Player of the Week. Zurauskyte posted four double-doubles this season and her 33 points vs. UC Irvine tied for the seventh-best single-game scoring night in Santa Clara history.

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.

The Bronco program is welcoming in one of the nation's top recruiting classes, according to, who ranked the class No. 56 nationally. 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.

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.

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.


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.

1. No. 8 Gonzaga $ (14-0/31-5)
2. Saint Mary's % (10-4/19-13)
3. Pepperdine % (9-5/18-12)
T4. Portland (6-8/16-15)
T4. Santa Clara (6-8/11-19)
T6. Loyola Marymount (5-9/11 18)
T6. San Diego 5-9/17-14
8. San Francisco 1-13/4-25

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