Women's Basketball Opens Season Hosting Pacific at Bellarmine

Nov. 16, 2000

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This Week Santa Clara's women's basketball team opens the season hosting Pacific on Saturday, Nov. 18. The game will take place at Bellarmine Prep, as the Broncos' Leavey Event Center is finalizing reconstruction efforts. Two days later, Santa Clara takes on its first ranked opponent of the season, visiting the Stanford Cardinal on Monday, Nov. 20 for a 7:30 p.m. game.

A Change of Scenery Formerly known as Harold J. Toso Pavilion, the reconstructed Leavey Event Center will be one of the best venues on the West Coast. Santa Clara's loud, supportive fans will only turn up the volume once they see the new floor, a new digital scoreboard and new chairback seating.

"It's first class and it looks like a big-time arena when you drive by it," head coach Chris Denker said. "We're excited to play in it. Recruits are going to want to play in it. It's a great place to call home."

While reconstruction of Leavey is completing, Santa Clara is hosting home games at Bellarmine College Prep's Gymnasium. The Broncos won their two exhibition games there and will also host regular season contests against Pacific on Saturday and Providence on Nov. 25 at Bellarmine. After a six-game road trip, the Broncos will open Leavey for women's basketball action, hosting Maryland on Dec. 27.

On the Air Santa Clara's game against Pacific will air on local radio station KSCU, 103.3 FM, while Monday's match up at Stanford will be live on Fox Sports Bay Area, beginning at 7:30 p.m.

The Opponents Pacific returns four starters from a 1999-2000 squad that went 18-11, including guard Selena Ho, who averaged 15 points per game as a sophomore last year to earn second team All-Big West Honors. The Tigers won both their exhibition matches, defeating USA Elite 77-42 and NWBL 92-64. Ranked 14th nationally, Stanford faced the RTU Clondica team Nov. 9 in exhibition play, and defeated the Latvian team 104-55. The Cardinal returns four starters from a team that went 21-9 last season, 13-5 in the Pac-10 to tie for second place. Leading that group is senior center Carolyn Moos, who led the Cardinal with 12.4 points and 5.5 rebounds per game last season.

In the Rankings Santa Clara begins the season unranked, although its schedule features two ranked opponents, according to the ESPN/USA preseason poll. First up is a Monday contest at No. 14 Stanford. To end the year, the Broncos host No. 13 Texas Tech on Dec. 30.

Earning Votes in the WCC Preseason Poll Despite a new head coach and the loss of three starters, Santa Clara was the runaway choice to finish second in the conference according to a preseason coaches' poll released Oct. 18. The Broncos picked up 42 points and one first-place vote. Pepperdine was selected to repeat as WCC Champions, garnering 49 points in the poll. The Waves return four starters from a team that went 21-10 last season and earned the school's first NCAA bid. Saint Mary's was picked third, followed by Loyola Marymount in the top half of the standings. Portland was picked fifth, followed by San Francisco, Gonzaga and San Diego.

The Starting Lineup Santa Clara returns two starters from the 1999-2000 season in senior center Annie Garrison and junior guard Becki Ashbaugh. The trio that has started both exhibitions and predicted to start in the regular season is junior forward Jennifer Glysson, junior guard Caroline Gruening and senior guard Kim Sorenson. Junior forward Tammy Annas, a starter last year, is out for the season after tearing an ACL in her left knee in an October practice.

Senior Center Annie Garrison A two-time unanimous All-WCC performer, Annie Garrison will be the team's captain for the second straight year. Garrison made her mark in Santa Clara's recordbooks early, setting the career total for shots blocked during her sophomore season. She enters her senior year with 160 total blocks, almost double second-place Christine Rigby's 83 blocks from 1996-98. Garrison could possibly finish her career as one of the all-time best field goal percentage shooters and rebounders in Santa Clara annals. And entering the season with 785 points, could become only the 12th Bronco all time to surpass the 1,000-point mark. A leader off the court as well, Garrison carries a 3.74 in mathematics and is a pre-season favorite for All-Academic honors.

Freshman Faces Alex Gientke, Megan Nelson and Jennie Rondel make the trio of new faces that join the team this season. Guards Gientke and Nelson join the backcourt. From Ventura High School in Southern California, Gientke was named Player of the Year in a solid area of basketball talent. Described as having a good head for the game, Denker said her three-point shooting ability will give Santa Clara greater depth. From South Eugene High School in Oregon, Nelson is a 5-10 guard recovering from an ACL tear she suffered in November while playing soccer. An All-State player, Nelson is used to winning, as her team was ranked 14th during last season by USA Today. Rondel is the lone newcomer to the frontcourt, arriving from a very successful Washington program. Once she finds a role to settle into, she should make great strides in the collegiate game.

Exhibition Wrap Up Five players scored in double figures to lead the Santa Clara women's basketball team to a 99-74 win over RTU Clondica, a club team from Riga, Latvia, in the Broncos' final exhibition contest of the preseason Nov. 8 at Bellarmine Prep. Annie Garrison and Becki Ashbaugh scored 20 points apiece to lead the Broncos to their second exhibition win in as many games. Clondica's Inara Jakobsone led all scorers with 32 points while playing 39 minutes in the contest. Clondica led the game early before junior Caroline Gruening hit a three-pointer with the score tied at 11-apiece to put the Broncos ahead for good at the 14:39 mark in the first half. Santa Clara led by as many as 12 first-half points before Clondica cut the lead to just four points at the end of the period. Santa Clara pulled ahead by double-digits on a three-point field goal by Kim Sorenson to give the Broncos a 65-53 lead at the 10:04 mark of the second half. The Broncos extended their lead past the 20-point barrier with just over 2:00 left in the contest. A layup by Sorenson with eight seconds left provided the final score. Gruening finished the game with 18 points, including 4-of-6 from the three-point stripe. Kendra Rhea added 14 points, while Sorenson added 10 for the Broncos. Santa Clara shot 54.0 percent from the field and 53.3 percent from the three-point arc in the game, while holding Clondica to just 44.8 percent from the field.

Santa Clara opened the season Nov. 1 with a 76-58 exhibition win over the Bay Area Pro Am at Bellarmine. Ashbaugh led all scorers with 22 points for the Broncos while Garrison added 20 points and led all defensive efforts with 12 rebounds. Santa Clara did not make a field goal for the first five-plus minutes of the game, until Ashbaugh drove through the middle for the layup. The Broncos tied the score at 15 at the midpoint of the first half then went on a 12-3 run. The visitors were able to recover some of those points as the Broncos broke for half with a 36-33 edge. The second half saw the Broncos open up the scoring, taking a 10-point lead with 13 minutes left. Santa Clara's defense took over, allowing only three field goals for Bay Area Pro Am in the game's last 10 minutes as SCU extended its lead to 25 before the final 18-point margin.

Denker Signs Four Recruits Women's basketball head coach Chris Denker announced the signing of four Washingtonians to National Letters of Intent: Kim Butler of Tacoma, Quinn Thomas of Kent, Kayla Huss of Everett and Tina Donahue of Stanwood. Butler is the younger sister of junior Bronco forward Julie Butler.

With the newcomers, the 2001-02 squad will comprise of nine players from the state of Washington. Returning to the team next year will be Becki Ashbaugh of Bellevue, Tammy Annas of Enumclaw, Jennie Rondel of Kirkland, Julie Butler of Tacoma and Courtney Cushing of Brush Prairie.

"These four are going to present our program with a lot of new things," Denker said. "They're going to help stabilize our three-point shooting core, which we felt we lost a little last year with the departure of Katie Pursley and Stephanie Rogers. We're also going to improve areas of athleticism, defense and rebounding."

Head Coach Chris Denker Entering his first season as head coach, Chris Denker (Oregon '90) is no stranger to Santa Clara basketball. Serving as an assistant coach on Caren Horstmeyer's staff for the last seven years, Denker becomes only the sixth head coach in the 36-year history of the program. Under Horstmeyer, Denker was the top recruiting and offensive coordinator. His teams amassed a 137-64 (.682) overall record, including a 69-29 (.704) mark in West Coast Conference play. The Broncos have also won three WCC Championships under his watch and advanced to the postseason four times. He inherits a squad that returns 11 letterwinners and three starters from a 1999-2000 team that went 21-9 and participated in the Women's National Invitation Tournament. He has also been an assistant coach Idaho State University and South Eugene (Ore.) High School. As a collegiate player, Denker lettered in basketball as a freshman at Boise State University before transferring to Linn Benton Community College the next year. At Linn Benton, he served as the basketball team captain and earned honorable mention all-league recognition in 1987.