Women's Hoops Opens Home Season against Bento's Alma Mater, Fresno State

Dec. 3, 2002

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This Week
The Santa Clara University women's basketball team will open the home season at the Leavey Center this weekend. The Broncos will play on Wednesday against first-year head coach Michelle Bento's alma mater, Fresno State. The Broncos went 12-0 on their home court last season and will look to continue the streak. Santa Clara will travel to Tulsa, Okla. for a Saturday contest against the University of Tulsa in continuing non-conference action.

Live on the Internet
Santa Clara's entire schedule returns to the Internet, as a live audio broadcast will be available for a third season on www.SantaClaraBroncos.com. Additionally, Leavey Center contests can be followed online with a live statistical tracker, also located on SCU's official athletic website. By logging on, fans receive real-time updated statistics direct from the official scoring computer, allowing users to listen to the audio broadcast and keep up with the statistics simultaneously. Anthony Passarelli returns as the voice of the Broncos for a second season.

Scouting the Fresno State Bulldogs
Series Record: Fresno State leads 15-13
First Meeting: 1977-78 - FSU won (62-55)
Last Meeting: 2001- SCU won (75-65) Dec. 15 in Fresno
FSU Largest Margin of Victory: 23 on Dec. 13, 1988 (83-60) in Fresno
SCU Largest Margin of Victory: 36 on Dec. 28, 1997 (86-50) in Santa Clara
FSU Record in 2001-02: 9-20 (4-14, 9th, Western Athletic)
Letterwinners Returning/Lost: 9/4
Starters Returning/Lost: 5/0
Notable: Fresno State is 2-2, with loses to Michigan State and Valparaiso to open the season... the Bulldogs are on a two-game win streak, earning victories at home over Butler and San Diego State... a victory over SCU would give Fresno State only its second three-game win streak since the 1998-99 season... Lindsay Logan was named to the preseason All-WAC team.

Scouting the Tulsa Golden Hurricane
Series Record: First Meeting
Tulsa Record in 2001-02: 17-13 (11-6, 5th, Western Athletic)
Letterwinners Returning/Lost: 9/4
Starters Returning/Lost: 3/2
Notable: Tulsa is 3-3 overall, with wins over SW Missouri State, Oklahoma State and Texas Pan American... the team is lead by Allison Curtin, who is averaging 26.8 points per game and 8 rebounds per contest.

Season Openers
With its victory over Lehigh to open the season, Santa Clara has now won its last five season-openers. The game also marked the fifth season opener on the road for the Broncos in the last six seasons. Additionally, the win marked the 10th season-opening victory for the Broncos in the last 12 years and 24th overall in 40 seasons.

Non-Conference Success
With a 10-3 non-conference mark last season, Santa Clara has posted 11 straight non-losing non-conference seasons and is 94-41 (.696) during that span. Santa Clara's most successful non-conference season ever came during the 1990-91 season when the Broncos went 12-2.

Up Next: Pac-10 Power Oregon
Santa Clara will return to the road for its sixth away contest in seven games when the Broncos travel to Eugene to take on Oregon, an NCAA participant in the Pac-10. Santa Clara lost to the Ducks two seasons ago in Portland, 75-65.

Leading the WCC
Santa Clara leads the WCC in free throw percentage (.739), rebounding defense (36.2), rebounding margin (+6.5), assists (19.50) and defensive rebounds (30.0), while ranking second in three other categories: field goal percentage, field goal percent defense and rebounding offense.

A Change of Scenery
After opening the 2000-01 season by playing its first four home games off campus, the basketball program returned to a revamped Leavey Center to complete the season. Formerly known as Harold J. Toso Pavilion, Leavey is in the second phase of a two-year reconstruction effort that is transforming the building into one of the finest sports venues of its size on the West Coast.

Began in March, the second phase of progress in the Leavey Center will cost an estimated $14 million and will included a complete reconstruction of the east side of the building. In June, staff members moved into new department offices, while the student-athletes were treated to a new weight room, academic center, team room, press center and video control room. Fans will see a new upper level seating and a suite that overlooks the court-a 43,000-square-foot addition spanning four stories of the University's 25-year-old sports complex.

A joint effort between project contractor Devcon Construction and architect Ellerbe Becket provided a four-story wall that allowed competition and day-to-day operations to continue during construction over the last two seasons. Devcon, located in Milpitas, was the general contractor for both Phase I and II. Ellerbe Becket of San Francisco, which worked with Esherick, Homsey, Dodge and Davis of San Francisco on Phase I, is the architect for Phase II. The original center was designed by architects Albert A. Hoover and Associates of Palo Alto, Calif., and built in 1975.

The first phase, which was highlighted by the removal of the famous "bubble" roof in April 2000, required SCU coaches and administrators to move into temporary quarters. At the completion of $11.75 million Phase I renovation in January 2001, Leavey had a new roof surrounded by spectacular 23-foot glass walls, a new floor, new bleachers and a new suspended scoreboard. The constructed caused the volleyball program to relocate for one season and moved two exhibition basketball contests and two regular season games to nearby Bellarmine College Prep.

Broncos Picked Second in Preseason Poll
With three returning starters from a team that advanced to the final of the West Coast Conference championship, Santa Clara was picked to finish second in a poll by league coaches, the conference released prior to the start of the season.

Pepperdine earned 49 points to take the top spot in this year's poll. San Francisco tied the Broncos at 37 points to finish second, while Loyola Marymount and Saint Mary's round out the top five.

Season/Game Tickets on Sale
Season and individual game tickets for Santa Clara are on sale through the school's official website www.SantaClaraBroncos.com and the athletic ticket office at 408-554-4660. In conjunction with Student Advantage's Official College Sports Network, the athletic department has developed an online ticket application that provides fans with the ability to purchase season tickets, family plans, individual games or an all-sports pass via the official athletic website. Season and individual match ticket packages are also available through the athletic ticket office, open between the hours of 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Head Coach Michelle Bento
Santa Clara appointed Mountain View, Calif., native Michelle Bento as the seventh head coach in the school's 38-year women's basketball history in June. Bento recently completed her fourth season on the women's basketball coaching staff at Syracuse under veteran coach Marianna Freeman and was recently promoted to Associate Head Coach. A 10-year coaching veteran, Bento served as the program's recruiting coordinator as well as worked with the Orangewomen perimeter players and opponent scouting. In her four seasons at Syracuse, Bento coached two perimeter players who were invited to the WNBA pre-draft camp and one player who was invited to the USA Junior World Championship trials in Colorado Springs, Colo. Additionally, Bento's most recent recruiting class was ranked 15th by All-Star Girls Reports. Bento, who helped guide the Big East Conference all-star team to a 6-0 record in a summer tour of Germany in 2001, inherits a program that went 21-10 last season and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the third time in five seasons. A 1992 graduate of Fresno State with a degree in physical education, Bento spent the 1996-97 and 1997-98 seasons as an assistant coach at her alma mater. As a player, Bento helped the Bulldogs to an appearance in the NIT in 1990, and was team captain and MVP of the 1991 squad. In addition, Bento played on the Fresno State softball team, and was named to the College World Series All-Tournament team in 1992. In the spring of 2000, Bento was invited to the WNBA Pre-Draft Camp in Chicago.

WCC Changes Basketball Tournament Format
The West Coast Conference Tournament will adopt a new format for the 2003 Championship, consisting of an eight-team/ play-in format. Under the new format, the fifth through eighth seeds will compete in the opening round. Waiting for the winners in the quarterfinals will be the third and fourth seeds, who will have first-round byes. The winners of the quarterfinal match-ups will go head-to-head with the top two seeds, who will have byes through the first two rounds of the tournament. "This format places a premium on regular season success and should lead to a very competitive regular season race in 2003." Commissioner Michael Gilleran said. This season's league championship will be held at the Jenny Craig Pavilion on the University of San Diego campus March 6-9. Beginning in 2004, the league will rotate the championship site regionally, visiting the Bay Area through 2005, the Northwest through 2007, and Southern California through 2009.