April 8, 2003
Santa Clara (20-11) advanced to the postseason six consecutive years now, and closed the 2002-03 season by making its third Women's National Invitation Tournament appearance in the last four seasons.
Bittersweet Homecoming for Coach Bento
Santa Clara head coach Michelle Bento is a 1992 graduate of Fresno State, and who as a player, led the Bulldogs to their last postseason, appearance in the WNIT in 1990. After the game, she said about her return, "It was a lot of different emotions. I had a lot of great memories here and it's great to come back and see so many familiar faces. But I always wanted to be a winner in that gym."
Rhea Named WCC Tournament MVP
Senior forward Kendra Rhea was honored by women's basketball media covering the West Coast Conference Tournament with the MVP award. Rhea, a Lakeside, Calif., native, played her final league championship near her hometown in San Diego. With family and friends on hand, Rhea averaged 11.7 points per game, 8.3 rebounds per contest.
Four Starters Named to All-WCC Squads
Four starters were named to the All-West Coast Conference teams, the league announced prior to the NCAA Tournament. Senior forward Julie Butler and sophomore guard Kayla Huss were named first-team selections. Senior forward Kendra Rhea and sophomore guard Quinn Thomas were honorable mention honorees.
Annas, Rhea Earn WCC All-Academic Honors
Tammy Annas and Kendra Rhea were named to the West Coast Conference Winter All-Academic Team, which honors some of the league's finest examples of the consummate scholar-athlete. To be considered, a student-athlete must earn at least a 3.20 cumulative grade point average, be a starter or important reserve with legitimate athletic credentials, and have sophomore athletic and academic standing. Rhea was also named to the WCC All-Academic team as a junior.
Broncos Record Another Top-Three Finish
Santa Clara is the only women's basketball team in the WCC to finish in the top three in the conference for 13 straight seasons. The second longest streak is six, which Pepperdine is currently amid, and Saint Mary's who accomplished the feat from 1997-2002.
Leading the WCC
Santa Clara led the West Coast Conference in four categories: field goal percentage (.454), assists (18.48), assist/turnover ratio (0.92) and three-point field goals made (6.42), while ranking second in five other categories: scoring offense, scoring margin, free throw percentage, three-point field goal percentage and steals. Santa Clara was one of the conference's most balanced teams, with six players averaging six or more points per game.
The Butler sisters, senior Julie and sophomore Kim, were one of four sibling pairs to compete in the WCC. They were joined by Loyola Marymount's Bianca and Rachael Ziemann and Portland's Khalila and Cecily O'Rielly-Williams. Carey Sauer of San Francisco saw her sister on the other side of the court, as Rose Sauer played for Portland. Additionally, SCU also faced sisters at Texas A&M, San Jose State and Eastern Michigan.
Huss, Thomas Led the Backcourt
Sophomores Kayla Huss and Quinn Thomas stepped into the starting lineup and successfully filled 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, more than doubled her scoring output (from 4.5 ppg to 11.4), while boosting her rebounding average and field goal percentage. Her success led her to the December 16 WCC Player of the Week honors, the first for any Bronco this season. Huss led the team in assists and three-point field goal percentage, while pouring in 11.0 points per contest.
Until the Feb. 8 game at San Diego, Santa Clara was 5-0 when reaching double figures in three-point field goals made. Down 17 at the half, the Broncos hit 10 three-pointers in the final 20 minutes but could not pull out a victory. The team hit .344 from behind the arc. Kayla Huss ranked second in the WCC--and 14th in the nation--with her .432 accuracy, while backcourt partner Quinn Thomas is right behind her with a .409 mark for third in league, 27th in the NCAA. Both hit six threes during that contest against the Toreros, and tied for fourth in SCU recordbooks for most threes by an individual in a single game.
Thomas' first three of the WCC Tournament gave her 69 for the season, moving her into third place on SCU's all-time single season record for three-point field goals made. She finished the season with 79 and is now second on the list, two ahead of Caroline Gruening's mark, set last season. Julie Lienert set the standard during the 1990-91 season with 89 baskets from behind the arc.
Senior Julie Butler led the conference in field goal percentage, with a 51.7 percentage, while sophomore Kayla Huss was tops in the league in assists, with a 5.62 per game mark, and second in three-point field goal percentage, with 43.2 percentage. Just counting WCC contests, senior Julie Butler led in field goal percentage, with a 56.8 percent mark, while Huss stayed at the top in dishing the rock, averaging 5.93 assists per game. Sophomore Quinn Thomas led the league in three-point field goals made, averaging 2.64 per outing.
Live on the Internet
Anthony Passarelli returned as the voice of the Broncos for a second season, and broadcast the entire season live on the Internet. Santa Clara has been offering a live audio broadcast for the past three seasons on SantaClaraBroncos.com.
WCC Championship Coming to SCU in 2004
The WCC Men's and Women's Championships will return to the Bay Area in 2004 and 2005, as announced Wednesday by Commissioner Michael Gilleran. The change is a result of the WCC's decision to rotate the league's premier event between the Bay Area, Pacific Northwest and Southern California, each for a period of two consecutive years.
The 2006 and 2007 tournament will move to the Pacific Northwest before heading to Southern California in 2008 and 2009.
The 2004 WCC Basketball Tournament will be held at the Leavey Center. In 2005, the event will move approximately 50 miles north to the University of San Francisco, where games will be played at War Memorial Gymnasium. This will be Santa Clara's eighth time as host, most recently in 2000, while USF will serve as host for the fourth time.