Women's Hoops Returns from Holiday Break to take on Arkansas State

Dec. 27, 2002

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This Week
The Santa Clara University women's basketball team closes a three-game home streak Saturday afternoon at the Leavey Center. The Broncos will host Arkansas State at 2p.m. That contest is the first of a triple-header with the men's team famed Cable Car Classic.

Scouting the Arkansas State Lady Indians
Series Record: First Meeting
Arkansas State Record in 2001-02: 12-16 (6-8, 4th, Sun Belt, East)
Letterwinners Returning/Lost: 6/5
Starters Returning/Lost: 5/1
Notable: Arkansas State is 3-6 on the season... the Lady Indians will be looking to break a four-game losing streak against the Broncos.

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.

Up Next: Broncos Visit San Jose State
Women's basketball bragging rights for the South Bay are on the line Monday night when Santa Clara and San Jose State play for the 40th time in the two schools' history. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at SJSU's Event Center.

The two teams will have added incentive for victory this season with the creation of a rivalry series between the two schools. A competition that awards points for each victory between the two schools in 13 sports, the rivalry series has been dominated thus far in the season by Santa Clara with the Broncos owning a 13-3 lead. SCU won head-to-head match-ups in volleyball, men and women's soccer and men and women's cross country to jump out to an early lead in the inaugural contest. The Spartans earned their first points of the season with a two-point victory in men's basketball in late November.

Monday's game will award three points to the winner and a SCU victory will give the Broncos 16 points and nearly clinch the series title. Six sports have yet to play and a minimum of 19 points will be awarded following the women's basketball game.

Sister Act
The Butler sisters, senior Julie and sophomore Kim, are one of three sibling pairs to compete in the West Coast Conference. The Butlers are joined by Loyola Marymount's Bianca and Rachael Ziemann and Portland's Khalila and Cecily O'Rielly-Williams.

Thomas Leads the Backcourt
Sophomore Quinn Thomas has stepped into the starting lineup and has helped fill the void created by the graduation of All-WCC standouts Becki Ashbaugh and Caroline Gruening. Thomas, the only freshman to garner WCC Player of the Week honors last season, has more than doubled her scoring output (from 4.5 ppg to 9.9), while boosting her rebounding average and field goal percentage. Her success led her to last week's WCC Player of the Week honors, the first for any Broncos this season.

Leading the WCC
Santa Clara leads the West Coast Conference in five categories: field goal percentage (.427), free throw percentage (.765), assists (18.78), rebounding margin (+4.1) and defensive rebounds (28.33), while ranking second in six other categories: scoring offense, field goal percent defense, rebounding offense, rebounding defense, assist/turnover ratio and three-point field goals made. Individually, Kayla Huss leads the league in three point field goal percentage, at .517, making 15 of 29.

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.