SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Entering the final road weekend of the regular season, Santa Clara women's basketball heads to Pacific Thurs., Feb. 20 at 7 p.m. and Saint Mary's Sat., Feb. 22 at 1 p.m. Last week the Broncos took down San Francisco 74-73 on the road in a thrilling game. The win has Santa Clara at 8-17 overall and 4-10 in conference play.
"We always play San Francisco close and it's a game of runs," said Santa Clara head coach Jennifer Mountain. "I was really proud of the fact that we stayed composed and didn't panic. We did what we needed to do as far as picking up the defensive pressure to get ourselves back in the beginning of that first half. We were at a point where we were down 12 and the game could have gone the other way but we just stayed solid. That is a testament to our kids maturing and getting better. We came through at the end and made plays when we needed to. People stepped up and stuck together. We went with a little bit different lineup, a smaller lineup, and I liked what I saw with it and I liked the competitiveness."
Santa Clara is averaging 66.2 points per game and is shooting 41.4% (577-1394) from the field. The Broncos are shooting 29.2% (106-363) from deep and 76.3% (396-519) from the free throw line. They are averaging 38.0 rebounds per game, 13.8 assists per game, 20.5 turnovers per game, 6.3 steals per game, and 2.8blocks per game.
Nici Gilday leads the Broncos with 15.4 ppg on 40.7% (133-327) shooting from the field. Gilday adds 3.0 rpg while playing a team-high 33.0 minutes per game. She also leads the team in free throw percentage with an 87.7% mark while leading in makes (93) and attempts (106). Over the course of four games, Gilday made 26 straight from the free throw line, including 13-13 at LMU. Vanessa Leo is third on the team with 4.6 rpg while scoring 6.2 ppg on 40.1% (55-137) shooting. Ruta Zurauskyte has seen action in all 26 games, 53.5% (84-157) from the floor, third in the conference. Zurauskyte leads the Broncos with 23 blocks.
After missing 14 games with a broken wrist suffered in practice, senior guard Ricki Radanovich returned to the floor vs. Pacific and immediately made her presences felt. Radanovich scored 11 points on 4-6 shooting and 2-4 from deep with two steals and a rebound.
Radanovich is averaging 5.5 ppg and 2.8 rpg while hitting 12 threes, already fourth on the team. She has added 15 assists, five blocks, and seven steals as well.
Of the 125 starts for Santa Clara in 2013-14, 59 have been made by true freshmen. Jo Paine from Oregon City, Ore., Montana Walters, also from Oregon City, Ore. and Marie Bertholdt of Alameda, Calif. have started 25, nine, and 22 games, respectively.
Paine has started every game and is second on the team with 10.6 ppg and 4.8 rpg. She had her first career double-double at Pepperdine on Jan. 2 when she set career highs with 28 points and 14 rebounds. Paine is shooting 46.1% (95-206) from the floor and leads the team in threes made and three-point percentage at 37.8% (31-82).
Walters has started nine games and averages 2.5 apg while scoring 6.3 ppg. She is adding 1.9 rpg and has hit 23 threes. Walters set a career-high on Feb. 15 with 20 points at San Francisco. She nailed a three to give Santa Clara the lead with time winding down and iced the game with two free throws.
Bertholdt has started the last 22 games and has played in all 25. She is averaging 6.8 ppg and a team-high 5.7 rpg while shooting 51.5% (50-97) from the floor. She set a career-high with 10 rebounds at Pepperdine on Jan. 2 and followed it up with 10 more at LMU on Jan. 4. Bertholdt is second on the team in free throws made (70) and attempted (89), good for a 78.7% mark from the charity stripe.
Santa Clara is 25-17 all-time vs. Pacific with the first meeting coming in 1974-75. Earlier this season the Tigers took down the Broncos 88-68.
The Tigers enter the week with an overall record of 14-10 and a 9-5 mark in conference. Pacific is 7-5 at home in 2013-14. Last week the Tigers won two games on the road at Pepperdine and at LMU.
"Pacific runs what everybody calls a dribble-drive offense," said Mountain. "They look to penetrate, break you down and shoot through you. We've got to do a great job of controlling the middle of the paint and to make sure we rebound. We've got to contest long shots. It's going to be a huge defensive effort. On the other end, I think we need to be super aggressive and look to take it to the rim."
Pacific is averaging 77.8 ppg and is shooting 41.9% (648-1545) from the field. The Tigers are shooting 32.4% (159-490) from deep and 66.8% (411-615) from the free throw line. They are averaging 39.0 rpg, 14.7 apg, 16.0 tpg, 10.0 spg, and 2.8 bpg.
"Kendall Kenyon is a very athletic post player," said Mountain. "She'll play on the perimeter which causes our bigs an issue, and that's one of the reasons we've gone smaller. We've got to do a good job of making her make shots over hands and keeping her off the boards. That's going to be a huge factor."
Kendall Kenyon leads Pacific with 16.9 ppg, good for fifth in the WCC. Kenyon is second in the conference in field goal percentage with a 54.9% (157-286) mark and is third with 10.8 rpg. She leads the Tigers with 36 blocks. KiKi Moore is second on the team with 15.3 ppg on 40.9% (122-298) shooting from the field. Moore is third in the conference with 4.5 apg and adds 5.6 rpg to go with a team-high 2.5 spg. Madison Parrish scores 11.6 ppg and is second on the team with 36 threes made. She shoots 37.9% (36-92) from deep and adds 3.5 apg to go with 2.3 rpg.
Santa Clara is 33-32 all-time vs. Saint Mary's with the first meeting coming in 1978-79. Earlier this season the Gaels took down the Broncos 80-70.
"To beat Saint Mary's we're going to have to make plays," said Mountain. "Our first game with them was a while ago so everybody's changed. They were missing a big when we played the first time so it's going to be different matchups. We need to compete for 40 minutes and on defense we can't allow easy looks. The game comes down to rebounding and us executing offensively."
The Gaels enter the week with an overall record of 19-6 and are third in the WCC with a conference record of 9-5. Last week the Gaels feel in overtime at LMU before bouncing back with a win at Pepperdine.
Saint Mary's is averaging 78.6 ppg and is shooting 43.4% (642-1480) from the field. The Gaels are shooting 37.2% (138-371) from deep and 78.7% (543-690) from the free throw line. They are averaging 42.4 rpg, 13.4 apg, 16.0 tpg, 6.6 spg, and 3.3 bpg.
"Nared is someone who can score in a variety of ways and is a very talented guard," said Mountain. "You have to limit her touches and not allow her to go off. If she gets going, you're in trouble. Mauldin's game has improved over the four years, and she's just an absolute beast on the boards so we've got to do a good job of neutralizing her and not allowing her to hurt us on the glass. I don't think you can keep her off the boards totally, but she just has a knack for the ball. We've got to make sure we don't give her layups."
Jackie Nared is 20th in the nation and leads the WCC with 21.6 ppg on 47.6% (156-328) shooting from the field and is tops on the Gaels in threes made and three-point field goal percentage at 40.0% (38-95). Nared is second on the team with 7.3 rpg, 1.4 spg, and 19 blocks. Danielle Mauldin leads the conference with 13.5 rpg, fifth in the country, and is scoring 17.6 ppg on 46.1% (147-319) shooting. She leads the team with 1.8 spg and 1.4 bpg. Kate Gaze is second in the WCC with 5.2 apg while scoring 12.2 ppg. Gaze shoots 33.0% (34-103) from three and adds 3.3 rpg.