SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Coming off of a 10-day break for the holidays, Santa Clara women's basketball will return home to the Leavey Center to host Fresno State on Sat., Dec. 29 at 2 p.m. and UNLV on Mon., Dec. 31 at 1 p.m. to wrap-up non-conference play. Santa Clara is coming off of a 77-56 win at CSU Bakersfield to finish off a 3-1 road trip through the state of California. Fresno State enters the week 7-4 while UNLV sits at 4-8.
"It's always nice to play at home," said Santa Clara head coach Jennifer Mountain. "We play better at home for whatever reason and it's going to be good to get these two winnable games against good opponents on our home floor before conference play starts."
With this being the final set of games before West Coast Conference action kicks-off on Jan. 3, 2013 at Portland, Mountain and the Broncos are trying to gather a head of steam heading into league play.
"We're just trying to get better," said Mountain. "We want to concentrate on some stuff we've been working on. I think our defensive side of the ball is getting much better. We're not allowing the penetration to the middle which we were doing earlier in the season. We're also going to give some more people some more minutes to try and get them ready for conference, especially our younger kids and the players we're getting back from injury. We're starting to get healthy so hopefull we can take that into conference play next week."
As for worrying about the 10-day layoff, Santa Clara's players took care of staying in shape and not losing their edge.
"You always worry about your cardio but we had our first practice yesterday and I was really pleased with what happened over break," said Mountain. "It's a time for individuals to take care of what they need to whether it's healing or getting a little more cardio in and it was a pleasant surprise to see what they had done. They took care of business and yesterday I thought we were pretty good. We were a little bit sloppy at times, which is to be expected, but we're fresh which is good."
The Broncos are shooting .407 (270-664) from the field and .344 (66-192) from downtown. Santa Clara is also pulling down 38.8 rebounds per game and is averaging 15.5 assists per game to go along with 9.4 steals per game.
Meagan Fulps leads the Broncos with 13.1 points per game while also grabbing 3.1 rpg. Fulps is second on the team with 1.45 spg. Fulps is 26th in the nation with a .439 (25-59) shooting percentage from three. Ricki Randanovich averages 12.2 ppg and is second on the team with 3.1 apg. Radanovich is shooting .346 (28-81) from beyond the arc. Ruta Zurauskyte is third on the team with 10.9 ppg and is leading the team with 6.9 rpg. Nici Gilday is averaging 7.3 ppg and her 1.95 assist/turnover ratio is tied for 46th in the country.
Lindsay Leo is second in rpg with 6.7 while scoring 8.8 ppg. She has 13 blocked shots which ties her with Christine Rigby (1996-98) and Ashley Gonnerman (2003-07) for second on the all-time Santa Clara blocks list with 83. Annie Garrison (1997-2001) holds the career record with 207.
As a team Fresno State is shooting .388 (276-712) from the field but just .292 (75-257) from beyond the arc. The Bulldog's biggest advantage comes in turnover differential. Fresno State has turned the ball over 165 times while forcing 227 from its opponents. The team has a 0.9 assist/turnover ratio while holding opponents to a 0.5 mark.
Fresno State played tough in its season-opener at No. 4 Stanford but fell to the Cardinal 72-61. The Bulldogs also fell at Pacific 66-56. They picked up their first road win of the season last time out on Dec. 21 at San Francisco. At home vs. CSU Northridge, Fresno State came away with a 68-53 win. The Bulldogs have also taken down two Pac-12 opponents, Washington State (82-59) and USC (65-60).
Ki-Ki Moore leads the Fresno State team with 15.5 points per game and 6.3 rpg. Rosie Moult is the only other Bulldog averaging double figures at 12.6 ppg but Taylor Thompson and Alex Sheey each are averaging 9.8. Sheedy is also second on the team with 6.2 rpg. Jacinta Vandenberg has started eight of 11 games while grabbing 5.8 rpg and averaging 4.5 ppg. Moore also leads the team with 3.9 apg and Thompson leads the Bulldogs with 3.8 spg.
Mountain knows that the Broncos must control the perimeter against the Bulldogs in order to be successful.
"The big key is going to be guarding the three point shot," said Mountain. "They shoot a ton and it's certain people. We can't let Rosie Moult go off but, more importantly I think it's going to be important to keep Taylor Thompson and Ki-Ki Moore in front of us. The penetration kind of fuels what they do and those two are the ones that kick it out and get those threes."
The Lady Rebels shoot .375 (256-683) from the field but just .254 (45-177) from three. UNLV has only played one road game thus far in 2012 and it lost 61-46 at Texas San Antonio on Dec. 8. The team is coming off of the World Vision Classic in Las Vegas from Dec. 19-21. UNLV went 1-2 with losses to Old Dominion (85-67) and Kansas State (80-54) and a win vs. Alabama A&M (67-62).
UNLV had a trio of players averaging double figures while Kelli Thompson's 17.1 leading the team. Alana Cesarz is second on the team with 15.9 ppg and is leading the team with 8.0 rpg. Cesarz is shooting .439 (69-157) from the field. Danielle Miller is the other Lady Rebel average over 10 points a game and she is at 10.5 while pulling down 4.3 rpg. Rmanii Haynes leads the team with 5.8 apg while scoring 4.3 ppg.