Feb. 7, 2007
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - The Santa Clara women's basketball team will look to rebound this weekend from a pair of losses in its last two games, as the team plays host to the Portland Pilots Thursday night at 7 p.m. before facing the Gonzaga Bulldogs in a Saturday night contest set for 7 p.m.
Last Week for the Broncos
Santa Clara fell into a tie for fourth place last Saturday night as they fell 76-61 to the Saint Mary's Gaels at the Leavey Center. Chandice Cronk led the Broncos once again, scoring 16 points in the game, while Ashley Graham scored 13 points on 6-of-10 shooting and passed out six assists. The Broncos were doomed by poor shooting as a team, though, as they managed to shoot just 35.5% (22-for-62) collectively from the floor, and were outrebounded 47-35.
Portland (9-15, 1-8) heads into the Leavey Center this Thursday night on the heels of suffering a weekend sweep at home. First, the Pilots fell 74-52 to Loyola Marymount, before dropping the weekend finale, 72-45, to Pepperdine. The Pilots are led offensively by Laiken Dollente's 16.0 points a game, and Laura Thomas' 7.6 points and 5.9 rebounds a game. Portland's leading rebounder, center Rachel Warren (7.7 rpg, 10.6 ppg) has missed the past five games due to injury.
All-Time vs. Portland
The Broncos hold a 26-20 edge over the Pilots in the all-time series between the two schools, and have won the past six meetings. Santa Clara captured the first contest between the schools earlier this season, taking an 81-71 decision in Portland on Jan. 13.
Gonzaga (16-9, 8-1) comes to the South Bay after a weekend which saw the team drop its first conference game of the season and fall into a tie in the loss column with San Diego atop the WCC standings. The Bulldogs dropped a 70-56 decision at home to Pepperdine, before rebounding with a 66-56 win over Loyola Marymount. WCC Player of the Month (January) Stephanie Hawk leads Gonzaga with 14.7 points and 7.7 rebounds, while Heather Bowman adds 11.6 points and 5.7 rebounds a game.
All-Time vs. Gonzaga
The Broncos hold a 27-15 edge over Gonzaga in the all-time series between the two schools, but the Zags have won five of the last eight, including the meeting earlier this year, on Jan. 11 in Spokane, capturing a 78-73 overtime win.
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 77-68 (36-28 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 Feb. 4, Santa Clara is second in the nation in both three-pointers made (202) and three-pointers made per game (8.8). The Broncos are also 15th with a 38.0% three-point shooting percentage, and 46th with 15.5 assists per game.
Individually, Chandice Cronk leads all players in the country with 81 three-pointers and 3.5 threes made a game, and is ninth in the nation with a 45.0% three-point shooting success rate. Ashley Graham is also tied for 44th with 4.8 assists per game.
In the WCC
Through the action of Feb. 4 for all West Coast Conference teams, the Broncos lead the conference in scoring with 70.3 points a game, and lead in three-point shooting, making 38.0% of their attempts. The Broncos also pace the WCC with a team shooting percentage of 42.1%, 8.78 threes made a game and are second with 15.48 assists per game.
Individually, Chandice Cronk paces the loop with her 17.1 points a game, and Jen Gottschalk is tenth with 11.2 points a game. Gottschalk also sits atop the WCC with a 53.8% mark from the field and is seventh with 6.7 rebounds a game. Cronk leads the WCC with 3.52 three-pointers made a game and is second with 45.0% shooting from beyond the arc, while Graham is seventh with 37.3% three-point shooting. Cronk is also fifth in the conference with an 81.9% free-throw shooting rate, and Graham is third in the WCC with 4.83 assists a game, and fourth with a 1.59 assist-to-turnover ratio, while Tracey Walker is fourth with 2.32 steals a game.
Guard Chandice Cronk, the West Coast Conference's leading scorer with 17.1 points a game, also holds the distinction of being the nation's top three-point shooting threat. Through 23 games, Cronk leads the NCAA with 81 threes made for an average of 3.5 per game. Against Saint Mary's this past Saturday, Cronk continued her long-range effectiveness, hitting five of her nine attempts from behind the arc and scoring 16 points in the contest.
Passing the Buck
The Santa Clara offense, which averages a WCC-leading 70.3 points a game, has to be jump-started somewhere, and that somewhere is point guard Ashley Graham. Graham currently stands third in the cofnerence with 4.8 assists per game, and is ranked in the national Top 50, coming in a tie for 44th with that figure. Saturday against Saint Mary's, Graham passed out six assists, and has racked up six or more assists in nie games this season, most notably with a career-high 13 on Dec. 12 against Pacific.
New To The Starting Five
For the first time since the Dec. 28 game against Toledo, the Bronco Starting Five had a new look to it as sophomore guard Elizabeth Doran made her first collegiate start. The Corvallis, Ore. native didn't disappoint in her big moment, going 3-for-5 from the floor for six points and grabbing a pair of rebounds while playing the "3" spot. Doran also had an assist while playing a career-high 20 minutes in the contest.
Driving the Lane
Bringing a seemingly unending amount of energy to the court, guard Tracey Walker returned to the starting lineup Saturday night for the first time since Nov. 15, immediately making a difference. Walker relentlessly cut and slashed through the Saint Mary's defense, drawing fouls and making her way to the free throw line on multiple occasions. She also displayed her passionate play by fighting her way to seven rebounds in the contest, and is currently second on the team with 4.2 rebounds a game while also averaging 8.9 points per game.
Playing Her Way In
Demonstrating the scrappy kind of play which coaches love, guard Sara Majors has been seeing more and more time on the court due to her efforts on the defensive end. This past Saturday against Saint Mary's, Majors saw 15 minutes of action, grabbing a rebound and providing an aggressive presence for the Broncos not onyl on the outside but also underneath the hoop.
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 202-of-531 attempts from beyond the arc (38.0%), and are paced by Chandice Cronk's 81 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 43.1%. 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 and junior guard Chandice Cronk are on pace to become the 16th and 17th members, respectively, as Graham currently stands at 952 career points and Cronk at 899 with six regular-season contests and at least one postseason game remaining. As long as Graham averages at least 6.9 points a game and Cronk 14.4 in the remaining seven contests, they will assure themselves spots in the prestigious club.
In WCC play
Since beginning conference play in the 1978-79 season, the Broncos have compiled a 196-176 (.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.
SCU At Home
The Broncos hold an all-time mark of 256-136 (.653) in games held at the Leavey Center, dating back to the Toso Pavilion days in 1979-80. Since going 6-8 at home in the 1995-96 season, the Broncos have only had one sub-.500 season at home since then, when the injury-ravaged 2003-04 team went 3-13. Last year's Broncos went 11-3 at the Leavey Center, and three times in program history SCU has posted unblemished marks at home, going 17-0 in 1990-91, 15-0 in 1997-98, and 12-0 in 2001-02.