SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Coming off a pair of tight games against two of the top teams in the WCC, Santa Clara women's basketball heads to the Pacific Northwest to take on Portland and Gonzaga this week. The Broncos play the Zags Thurs., Feb. 5 at 6 p.m. and the Pilots Sat., Feb. 7 at 2 p.m. Last week the Broncos fell at home to San Diego and BYU by a combined five points. They are 7-13 overall and 2-9 in conference play.
"I thought we played really well last week and was very proud of our efforts," said Santa Clara head coach JR Payne. "We got to the free throw line much more consistently and rebounded the ball well both games."
Santa Clara is being outscored by an average of 67.9-65.6 but outrebounding opponents 43.0-37.7. They are shooting 37.8% (470-1244) from the field, 28.1% (81-288) from three, and 71.6% (290-405) from the free throw line.
Nici Gilday leads the Broncos with 18.7 ppg on 39.3% (128-326) shooting from the field. She also leads the team in threes made (46), attempted (128), and percentage (35.9%). She is also tops in the conference from the free throw line shooting 92.3% (72-78). Gilday adds 3.0 rpg and, 1.5 apg, and 1.6 spg. Marie Bertholdt leads the way with 7.7 rpg and scores 10.0 ppg on 47.3% (62-131) shooting from the field. She also leads the team in free throws made (75) and attempted (100). Raquel Avila leads Santa Clara with 3.5 apg. She scores 4.3 ppg with 2.3 rpg and 1.3 spg. Maddison Allen scores 3.6 ppg with 3.9 rpg and leads the team with 1.4 bpg.
Santa Clara is a 27-32 all-time vs. with the first meeting coming in 1987-88. Gonzaga has won the last 18 meetings between the two programs. The last Bronco win was a 74-52 game Feb. 2, 2006 in Santa Clara. Earlier this year at Leavey Gonzaga won 78-70.
"Gonzaga is one of the best environments in women's basketball and it should be really fun for us to play in front of such a large crowd," said Payne. "Gonzaga is very confident at McCarthey and they draw great support from their fans."
Gonzaga is 17-4 on the season and 10-0 in conference play. They are 9-1 at home and on an 11-game winning streak. Last week Gonzaga took down Portland on the road.
The Bulldogs have outscored teams 70.8-59.6 and outrebounded opponents 40.7-33. They are shooting 42.9% (511-1191) from the field, 32.6% (124-380) from three, and 77.6% (340-438) from the free throw line.
Sunny Greinacher leads the team with 14.3 ppg on 49.6% (118-238) shooting. She grabs 6.0 rpg as well to go with 2.0 apg. Elle Tinkle scores 11.8 ppg with 6.1 rpg. Tinkle averages 1.6 spg and 1.8 apg as well. Keani Albanez scores 11.3 ppg while leading the team n threes made with 37. She adds 2.9 rpg, 2.1 apg and leads the Zags with 2.6 spg. Georgia Stirton is tops on the roster with 2.8 apg while scoring 5.5 ppg with 2.0 rpg.
Santa Clara is 36-30 all-time vs. Portland with the first meeting coming in 1986-87. Earlier this year the Broncos topped the Pilots 83-68 at Leavey.
"To beat anyone, even someone we beat earlier this year, we need to continue to win in all of the hustle areas," said Payne. "Portland is a very good team with tremendous seniors so they will be very hungry to finish the second half of league play on a great note."
Portland is 4-17 this season and 2-8 in conference action. They are 3-6 at home but are on a three-game losing streak after winning back-to-back games at home vs. LMU and Pepperdine. Last week they fell to Gonzaga at home.
The Pilots are being outscored 74.1-63.7 and outrebounded 38.7-34.9. They are shooting 40.6% (467-1150) from the field, 37.8% (132-349) from three, and 74.5% (272-365) from the free throw line.
Cassandra Brown averages a team-best 18.3 ppg while also leading the team with 53 threes made. Brown adds 6.3 rpg as well. Kari Luttinen scores 13.5 ppg with a team-high 1.3 spg. She adds 3.6 rpg and 1.3 apg. Jasmine Wooton scores 11.8 ppg and leads the team with 3.4 apg while grabbing 3.2 rpg. Cassandra Thompson is the top rebounder for Portland with 6.8 per game. She scores 8.6 ppg as well.