Women's Hoops Makes SoCal Swing This Weekend

Jan. 24, 2007

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SANTA CLARA, Calif. - The Santa Clara women's basketball team will finish off a travel-heavy opening month of WCC play this weekend, traveling to Malibu and Los Angeles to face the Pepperdine Waves and Loyola Marymount Lions. SCU (11-9, 3-2 WCC) opens up the weekend with a Thursday night contest against the Waves at 7 p.m. at Firestone Fieldhouse before ending the trip Saturday afternoon in a 2 p.m. clash with the Lions at Gersten Pavilion.

Last Week for the Broncos
For the second weekend in a row, Santa Clara split its pair of WCC contests, dropping a 71-52 decision at home to the San Diego Toreros before bouncing back with a thrilling 89-83 double-overtime win over the San Francisco Dons. Chandice Cronk scored a career-high 30 points in the victory over the Dons, while Jen Gottschalk added a double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Tracey Walker's 13 points, five assists and five steals also helped the Broncos seal the win.

Scouting Pepperdine
Pepperdine (8-12, 1-4) is currently struggling through a four-game slide, having dropped its last four WCC contests after opening up with a victory over Portland. In two of those losses, the Waves have matched the school record for lowest scoring output, being held to only 35 points by both Gonzaga and Loyola Marymount. The Waves are led by Daphanie Kennedy's 11.9 points and 5.1 rebounds a game, while Teiosha George leads the team with 6.1 rebounds a game and adds 10.4 points a game.

All-Time vs. Pepperdine
The Broncos hold a 27-24 edge in the overall series with the Waves. Although the Broncos captured both regular-season contests last season, a 67-62 win at the Leavey Center and a 77-74 victory in Malibu in the season finale to clinch the WCC regular-season championship, Pepperdine got the last laugh, defeating the Broncos 71-67 in the WCC Tournament Championship to deny Santa Clara a trip to the NCAA Tournament for the second year in a row.

Scouting Loyola Marymount
Loyola Marymount (11-8, 3-2) has won three of its last four contests heading into the weekend, and will face off with Saint Mary's Thursday night before facing the Broncos on Saturday. The Lions are coming off of a 52-35 win over Pepperdine last weekend which saw guard Amanda Patton break the school's career-pointers made. Jennifer Hall leads the Lions with 13.5 points and 7.5 rebounds a game, while Patton adds 10.9 points a game and is shooting 40.4% from behind the arc on the year.

All-Time vs. Loyola Marymount
The Broncos hold a 37-10 advantage over the Lions in the all-time series between the two schools. The teams split last season's contests, with the Broncos claiming a 71-58 victory over the Lions at the Leavey Center on Jan. 21, and the Lions coming from behind to take an 89-74 win at Gersten Pavilion on Feb. 23.

Head Coach Michelle Bento-Jackson
In her fifth season as the head coach at Santa Clara, Michelle Bento-Jackson has compiled a career record of 76-66 (35-26 WCC), and last season brought home not only her first WCC regular-season title and a bid to the WNIT but was also named WCC Coach of the Year for the first time. Bento-Jackson also led the Broncos to the WCC Tournament title and an NCAA Tournament appearance in 2005. In her first season on the Mission Campus, Bento-Jackson guided the Broncos to a 20-11 record and a 9-5 WCC mark, earning a WNIT bid. She joined Santa Clara after serving on the women's basketball coaching staff at Syracuse for four seasons, and before that spent two seasons as an assistant at her alma mater, Fresno State. At Fresno State Bento-Jackson was a two-sport star in basketball and softball, leading the Bulldogs the the WNIT in 1990 and in 1992 being named to the College World Series All-Tournament team.

Among the National Leaders
Through the national statistics of Jan. 21, Santa Clara leads the nation in both three-pointers made (185) and three-pointers made per game (9.3). The Broncos are also fifth with a 40.0% three-point shooting percentage, and 40th with 16.0 assists per game. SCU is also 48th with a 73.1% success rate from the free-throw line.

Individually, Chandice Cronk leads all players in the country with 73 three-pointers and 3.7 threes made a game, and is fifth in the nation with a 46.2% three-point shooting success rate. Ashley Graham is also 48th in the nation with a 38.9% mark, and tied for 31st with 5.1 assists per game.

In the WCC
Through the action of Jan. 21 for all West Coast Conference teams, the Broncos lead the conference in scoring with 71.7 points a game, and lead in three-point shooting, making 40.0% of their attempts. The Broncos also pace the WCC with a team shooting percentage of 42.5%, 9.3 threes made a game and are second with 16.00 assists per game and an assist-to-turnover ratio of 0.82.

Individually, Chandice Cronk paces the loop with her 17.2 points a game, Jen Gottschalk is seventh with 11.5 points a game, and Ashley Graham sits tenth with her 11.8 points a game. Gottschalk also sits atop the WCC with a 55.5% mark from the field and is tied for sixth with 6.4 rebounds a game. Cronk leads the WCC with 3.7 three-pointers made a game and 46.2% shooting from beyond the arc, while Graham is fifth with 38.9% three-point shooting. Cronk is also fifth in the conference with an 82.6% free-throw shooting rate, and Graham is second in the WCC with 5.05 assists a game, and fourth with a 1.55 assist-to-turnover ratio, while Tracey Walker is third with 2.37 steals a game.

Droppin' Bombs
Chandice Cronk proved last Saturday night why she leads the nation in three-pointers made and threes per game, dropping five of her 10 attempts on her way to a career-high 30 points in helping SCU defeat San Francisco 89-83 in double overtime. Cronk took over in the second overtime period, scoring 16 points and hitting on all three of her shots from behind the arc. Through Monday, the Wasilla, Alaska native leads the nation with 3.7 threes per game, and 73 three-pointers made on the season.

Didn't See Her Coming
Although the Broncos are often viewed as a high-scoring offensive machine, the defensive talents of the team are often overlooked. But in last Saturday's win over San Francisco, junior guard Tracey Walker once again made everyone take notice of the SCU defense, leading the way with five clutch steals, including consecutive thefts in the second overtime period which helped turn the tide. On the season, Walker, besides averaging 8.8 points and 4.1 rebounds a game, averages 2.37 steals a game, third-best mark in the WCC.

Windexing the Glass
While she's been getting it doen scoring as of late, averaging 18.4 points in WCC play, junior forward Jen Gottschalk has been stepping up the Broncos play on the boards, averaging 6.4 rebounds a game, tied for sixth-best in the conference. This past weekend, Gottschalk averaged 9.5 rebounds a game, even turning in a double-double performance Saturday night against San Francisco, scoring 19 points and grabbing 10 rebounds.

"Majors" Defense
Although she hasn't seen too much time on the court this season, junior guard Sara Majors has found ways to contribute to the Broncos. A tenacious defender, Majors played a season-high 11 minutes last Saturday against San Francisco, pressuring USF players up and down the court. In her 11 minutes, she scored two points, grabbed a rebound, made a steal, and made a spectacular block to help thwart a USF rally.

Goin' to "A-Mart"
Senior guard Anna Martin has proven herself to be a most invaluable member of the Broncos Starting Five. While she is avaeraging only only 5.9 points a game, Martin still contributes as one of SCU's long-range threats, hitting 37.0% of her three-point attempts, good for sixth in the WCC. Last Saturday, Martin's eight points and four assists proved that she is a major factor in SCU's success on the court.

Firing From All Cylinders
During head coach Michelle Bento-Jackson's tenure at SCU, the Broncos have forged a reputation as one of the best three-point shooting teams in the nation, and so far this season have cemented that notion. The Broncos have already hit 185-of-462 attempts from beyond the arc (40.0%), and are paced by Chandice Cronk's 73 threes. SCU also gets long-range help from guard Ashley Graham, the school's all-time second-most accurate three-point shooter with a career mark of 43.4%. Graham also was a perfect 5-for-5 from beyond the arc against No. 22 BYU on Nov. 22, while forward Jen Gottschalk even got in on the act, hitting both of her three-point attempts in Dec. 9's 80-73 win over Fresno State.

Next 1,000-Point Clubber
The Broncos have added a new member to the program's "1,000 Point Club" in each of the past two seasons, as Quinn Thomas (2005) and Michelle Cozad (2006) became the 14th and 15th members of the prestigious club. This season, senior guard Ashley Graham is on pace to become the 16th member, as she currently stands at 926 career points with nine regular-season contests and at least one postseason game remaining. As long as Graham averages at least 7.3 points a game in the remaining 10 contests, she will assure herself a spot in the prestigious club.

In WCC play
Since beginning conference play in the 1978-79 season, the Broncos have compiled a 195-174 (.528) record against conference opponents, including last season's 11-3 mark. SCU's best conference showing came in the 1990-91 season, in which Caren Horstmeyer's Broncos ran away with the WCC title with a 13-1 record.

Also, since finishing 5-9 in WCC play in 1989-90, the Broncos have finished above .500 in 15 of the last 16 conference seasons.