SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Getting set for the start of a new season, Santa Clara women's basketball opens the 2014-15 season at UC Riverside on Fri., Nov. 14 at 5 p.m. before coming home to face San Francisco State at 6 p.m. on Sun., Nov. 16. The Broncos won two exhibition games in the preseason. They topped Notre Dame de Namur 77-40 and Dominican 81-55.
"The exhibitions are great for getting to play against an opponent other than yourself," said first year Santa Clara head coach JR Payne. "We had an opportunity to execute plays that are harder to run against yourself in practice because everyone knows what is coming. We have so many new players, even ones that have been here but haven't played a lot, so it was good for everyone to get our some game jitters."
Santa Clara is anticipating getting the new era of Bronco basketball underway.
"The team is excited for everything," said Payne. "Even though our first game is on the road they're ready for the first road trip. To be able to play at home this week also will be great."
Nici Gilday led the Broncos in almost all offensive categories last season. She started all 30 games and leading the Broncos in points per game (17.1), minutes per game (33.4), field goals made (180), field goals attempted (421), threes made (36), threes attempted (111), free throws made (116), free throws attempted (134), free throw percentage (.866), assists (76), and steals (42). She also set the Santa Clara single-game record with 40 points vs. LMU on Feb. 27, 2014. She was named All-WCC Honorable Mention for her efforts.
The next highest returning scorer is sophomore Marie Bertholdt who averaged 7.2 ppg and led the team with 5.8 rpg. Bertholdt also led the team with 24 blocks and sot .528 (67-127) from the floor. Vanessa Leo averaged 5.6 ppg and 4.3 rpg while adding 19 blocks. Raquel Avila, who will see plenty of time at the point, was second on the team with 74 assists while adding 33 steals and 3.6 ppg.
"To be successful this weekend we really need to focus on being disciplined and doing our jobs," said Payne. "We can't try to do anything too fancy. We're playing two really athletic teams but we might have a little more size than them. We need to work to contain their athleticism and continue to do a good job on the glass."
Santa Clara is 1-1 all-time vs. UC Riverside with the first meeting coming in 1979-80. The last meeting was a 90-80 overtime loss last year.
The Highlanders finished last season 6-23 and 3-7 at home. They were outscored on the year by an average of 75.4-67.4.They shot 40.5% (729-1801) from the floor and 31.6% (128-405) from deep. Riverside was also outrebounded by an average of 41.2-37.5 per game.
Riverside returns its top three scorers from last season in Brittany Crane, Simone DeCoud, and Annelise Ito. Crane led the team with 19.2 ppg on 46.5% (185-398) shooting from the field and a team-best 40.4% (55-136) from three. She also tied for the team lead with 6.0 rpg and 50 steals. DeCoud scored 11.9 ppg and grabbed 5.3 rpg while shooting 40.7% (127-312) from the field. She also led the team with 113 assists. Ito checked in with 10.5 ppg on 42.9% (118-275) shooting. She averaged 5.9 rpg and was second with 77 assists.
Santa Clara is 9-7 all-time vs. San Francisco State with the first meeting coming in 1967-68. The last meeting was a 67-57 win in Leavey last year.
San Francisco State finished the 2013-14 season 14-14 and 4-10 on the road. The Gators outscored opponents 68.5-67.2 on average but were outrebounded 42.2-38.0. They shot 41.0% (694-1693) from the floor and 33.8% (163-482) from deep.
The Gators lost their top four scorers from a season ago. Those four scored 46.1 ppg, or 67% of the team's total scoring. Leti Galarza is the top returning scorer with 5.4 ppg and top returning rebounder with 3.0 rpg. Galarza shot 46.7% (49-105) from the floor and led the team while shooting 59.0% (23-39) from three. Michelle Sutton is the only other returner averaging more than 2.2 ppg and she checked in at 5.1. Sutton shot 39.8% (51-128) from the field and 33.3% (16-48) from deep.