May 4, 2005
A Season to Remember
Santa Clara University women's basketball program advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the sixth time overall with its selection to the 2005 Championships. Santa Clara played as the Kansas City Region's 15th seed, and opened the tournament against second-seeded Stanford. The Broncos earned one of 31 automatic berths after winning the West Coast Conference Championship with a 77-66 victory over No. 23 Gonzaga, and watched the selection show as a team in the Leavey Center's University Suite. The Broncos were the last team announced in the bracket, and traveled to Fresno State University's Save Mart Center, one of eight hosts of the first two rounds.
NCAA First Round Connections
Mountain View native and Bronco sophomore guard Yasemin Kimyacioglu faced her sister when Santa Clara and Stanford met in the first round, as Sebnem was a senior forward on the Cardinal squad. Additionally, Bronco redshirt sophomore guard Lauren Michalski faced her best friend, Cardinal junior center Brooke Smith. Both attended Marin Catholic High School. In a connection with the host institution, head coach Michelle Bento-Jackson is a 1992 alumna of Fresno State University.
SCU Wins WCC Championship
(AP) Santa Clara won the West Coast Conference tournament, besting top-seed and 23rd-ranked Gonzaga 77-66 in the final, and therefore earning the league's automatic bid into the NCAA's 24th Annual Women's Basketball Championship. Michelle Cozad scored 22 points to lead the Bronco charge in snapping the nation's longest winning streak at 23 games.
Ashley Graham had 17 points, all in the first half, and Quinn Thomas added 14 points and six rebounds for Santa Clara, which tied a school record with 14 three-pointers. It was the fourth time this season the Broncos made 14 threes in a game.
Ashley Burke scored 28 points and had eight rebounds for Gonzaga, which didn't have WCC player of the year Shannon Mathews in the starting lineup because of a right ankle sprain. The Bulldogs trailed by as many as 25 before making a late run against the Broncos.
Santa Clara led by 14 at halftime then opened the second half with a 20-9 run to take control for good. Thomas made three 3-pointers during the stretch and the Broncos opened a 66-41 lead. Santa Clara stretched the advantage to 71-48 before going scoreless the next six minutes. Gonzaga responded with a 14-0 run to pull within nine points, but couldn't get closer.
Broncos Set WCC Tournament Records
Santa Clara set a handful of tournament records at the WCC Championships. For the three games, the Broncos made 30 three-point field goals, besting their own record of 27, set in 2002, the last year the Broncos advanced to the NCAA Tournament. Chandice Cronk tied the record for highest field goal percentage in a single game by hitting 87.5 percent (7-for-8) of her shots, while also tying the record for highest three-point field goal percentage in a game (100 percent, 4-for-4), and highest free-throw percentage in a single game (100 percent, 4-for-4). Kayla Huss topped the mark at the charity stripe the following afternoon against Loyola Marymount, making all 10 of her free throw attempts.
Bronco History in Hosting the Tournament
Santa Clara hosted the WCC Basketball Championships for the 10th time overall, and for the second consecutive season. All three of the Broncos' tournament championships have come as the host school, in 1992, '98 and now 2005.
A Return to the Top 3 in WCC Standings
In 2003-04, Santa Clara's 4-10 WCC record marked the first time in 13 years that the Broncos did not finish the conference season at or above .500. With the regular season concluded, the Broncos successfully returned to the top three of league's standings.
Thomas Leads All-WCC Honors
Quinn Thomas was named a First Team All-West Coast Conference honoree for the second straight season. Michelle Cozad and Kayla Huss were named to the honorable mention team, and Chandice Cronk received recognition to the All-Freshman squad. Ashley Graham was named WCC All-Academic.
Santa Clara averaged 8.8 three-point field goals per contest, second best in the NCAA, and ranked 12th in accuracy (.379) and 24th in scoring average (71.6). Individually, Quinn Thomas ranked 15th in three-point field goals made per game (2.6) and Michelle Cozad ranked 29th in free throw percentage (.843).
Regarding RPI, which is based on winning percentage, schedule strength and opponent schedule strength, Santa Clara rated 107th, second best in the league, and the WCC was listed 13th.
Thomas Reaches Career Milestone
On Feb. 17, Quinn Thomas became only the 14th player in the Bronco program to reach 1,000 career points. Thomas netted 750 points her first three seasons on the mission campus, and had notched 239 this season before a knee injury sidelined her for three weeks. She returned to action at Saint Mary's on Feb. 12 and netted seven points, leaving her just four points shy of the milestone. The Kent, Wash., native hit four three-pointers during first-half action at Pepperdine on Feb. 17, with her second trey sending her over 1,000 points.
Santa Clara's offense focused on the long ball, as the Broncos averaged 8.8 three-point field goals made per outing, a .379 clip over the season. Quinn Thomas netted 65 and Michelle Cozad and Ashley Graham were right behind at 54 and 53, respectively. The Broncos have historically led the WCC in this category, and surpassed their own WCC record of 200 treys in a single season at Saint Mary's on Feb. 12 and finished with 272 on the year. Last season, they also broke the league record for threes made during conference play. Regarding single-game team bests, in November, Santa Clara made 13 at Hawaii, tying a program record for a game and setting a Rainbow Wahine Classic new mark. In mid-December, Santa Clara topped that with 14 at Wisconsin, also an opponent record for the Badgers. The Broncos matched that effort on Dec. 30 with 14 threes against Portland State, and again against San Francisco and Gonzaga during the WCC Tournament.
Playing the Nation's Best
The Bronco program is known to play a tough schedule on a regular basis, and this year's was no exception. The Broncos faced three top-25 teams in a 15-day span during non-conference play, taking on 13th-ranked Michigan State and No. 3 Georgia at the Rainbow Wahine Classic, and following with a contest against No. 16 Minnesota. Additionally, another non-conference opponent, UW-Green Bay, was ranked in the Associated Press poll. League foe Gonzaga was ranked 23rd during the WCC Tournament and the Broncos' final challenge was No. 1 Stanford in the NCAA First Round.
Live Audio & Video on the Internet
A live audio broadcast for each Bronco game was available for a fourth season on www.SantaClaraBroncos.com. Additionally, Leavey Center contests could be followed online with a live statistical tracker, also located online. By logging on, fans received 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 returned as the voice of the Broncos for a fourth season.
Leading the WCC
Santa Clara led the league in scoring offense (71.6), three-point field goals made per game (8.8), three-point field goal percentage (.379) and was one of only two league teams with a positive turnover margin (2.3). The Broncos were second in assists (15.1), blocked shots (3.1) and scoring margin (+1.9), while ranking third in field goal (.414) and free throw (.743) percentages. Individually, Quinn Thomas placed sixth (13.6) in scoring, followed by Michelle Cozad in seventh (13.1). Ashley Graham led the league in three-point field goal percentage (.461) was third in three-point field goals made (1.8), while ranking seventh in assists (2.7) and was the only guard in the top 10 in field goal percentage (.484), listed eighth. Thomas led the league in three-point field goals made (2.6), was second in steals (2.3), fifth in three-point field goal percentage (.367) and eighth in assists (2.5). Additionally, she was the only guard in the top 15 in rebounding, listed 11th with a 5.0 average. Cozad was tops in free throw percentage (.843), second in three-point field goal percentage (.443) and fifth in three-point field goals made (1.7). Kayla Huss ranked fifth in assists (3.5) and second in assist/turnover ratio (1.3). Ashley Gonnerman was eighth in blocks (0.7) and Chandice Cronk was sixth in three-point field goal percentage (.340).
Quinn Thomas nailed seven three-point field goals en route to setting a career-high 33 points at UW-Green Bay on Dec. 18. In fact, she scored 58 points for the Broncos in "America's Dairyland" state during the weekend, and topped a career-high 25 points she had just set two nights prior against UW in Madison, behind five treys. Her seven threes against the Phoenix was one short of tying an individual game record for the Bronco program. She shot .500 from the field. She shot .444 from behind the arc through the weekend. Thomas also found success behind the arc last season against UW-Green Bay, scoring 18 points with a 6-12 effort from long range.
Four Broncos Net Career Highs at UW
Quinn Thomas (25), Ashley Graham (27), Chandice Cronk (11) and Kasey Monteith (10) all recorded career highs in scoring against Wisconsin on Dec. 16. The quartet accounted for 70 percent (51-73) of the Broncos' attempts, and converted 55 percent (28-51) of them Monteith was the most accurate, going a perfect 5-5 from the field. Thomas outdid herself less than 48 hours later, improving her personal best to 33 points at UW-Green Bay. Lauren Michalski also notched a new career high against the Phoenix, with eight points.
Programs Complete SMC Sweep
The Broncos' 70-55 victory on Feb. 12 marked the fourth time in the last 10 years, and seventh overall, that Santa Clara women's basketball has swept the Gaels during the regular season. In each of those seasons (1994-95, 1999-2000, 2002-03, 2004-05) the Bronco men's basketball program also swept Saint Mary's, providing a complete basketball sweep.
Another Connection with Bronco Men's Program
The biggest upset of the season for Santa Clara men's basketball occurred when the Broncos upset No. 4 North Carolina at the Pete Newell Challenge in Oakland on Nov. 19. Final Score: Santa Clara 77, Tar Heels 66. The Bronco women matched that score perfectly in their biggest upset of the season, stopping Gonzaga's 23-game win streak to win the WCC Tournament on March 6.
The Broncos made three live television appearances this season: Jan. 12, with a 15-point victory over rival Saint Mary's on Fox Sports Net; March 6, with an 11-point victory over No. 23 Gonzaga on FSN for the WCC Tournament title; and March 19 on ESPN2 for an NCAA First Round contest against top-ranked Stanford.
WCC Preseason Poll
Santa Clara was picked by WCC coaches to finish fifth during the 2005 regular season. Gonzaga was picked as the favorite, receiving seven first-place votes. Pepperdine placed second in the poll. Defending champion Loyola Marymount was listed third, followed by Saint Mary's.
Santa Clara began a new tradition this season with the Breakfast Club, a gathering held monthly and hosted by head coach Michelle Bento-Jackson. The energized group meetings were held at The Hungry Hound restaurant near campus, with Bento-Jackson briefing the guests on current program events over a continental breakfast. Cost was $6 per person and the event was held from 7 to 8 a.m.
SCU Named One of Best Values in the West by U.S. News & World Report
For the 15th year in a row, Santa Clara was ranked second among 124 master's universities in the West by the U.S. News and World Report. In an additional ranking listing "great schools at great prices" in four regions across the country, U.S. News ranked SCU second in the West region. To determine which institutions offer the best value, the magazine uses a formula that relates a school's academic quality to the net cost of attendance for a student receiving the average level of financial aid. The Western region includes all colleges and universities from Colorado to the West Coast, including Texas.
Additional highlights from the 2005 U.S. News rankings include:
SCU had the highest average graduation rate -- 82 percent
SCU had the highest average freshman retention rate -- 92 percent
SCU had the second highest peer assessment score -- 4.0
SCU had one of the highest average alumni giving rates -- 24 percent
The magazine's rankings relied on academic reputation, graduation rates, class size, percent of full-time faculty, student/faculty ratios, retention of students, student test scores and grades, student selectivity, financial resources, and alumni giving. Complete rankings are on the U.S. News web site, www.usnews.com.