Broncos Battle Waves in Santa Clara's WCC Opener Saturday

SANTA CLARA, Calif. - After a 7-6 non-conference season, Santa Clara plays its West Coast Conference opener against Pepperdine on Saturday. Tip off is set for 2 p.m. at SCU's Leavey Center. The Broncos are one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the nation and are coming off a 96-76 win over Sacramento State just before the holiday break.

Game Notes - Dec. 31, 2011

PEPPERDINE (5-6)* @ SANTA CLARA (7-6)
Saturday, Dec. 31, 2011 • 2 p.m.
Game #14 • Home Game #8  • Santa Clara, Calif.
*Pepperdine will play at USF Thursday, Dec. 29
Watch Live | Live Stats

WEEKLY NOTES
* Santa Clara is led by fourth year head coach Jennifer Mountain
* The Broncos are making 8.5 three-pointers per game, which leads the WCC and ranks among the NCAA's top 10
* All-WCC G Alyssa Shoji has already made 53 treys this season, she ranks No. 3 nationally in 3PT shooting and needs just 5 more to break Santa Clara's all-time career record of 244 established by Chandice Cronk '08
* Junior F Lindsay Leo made 11 of 12 shots and scored a career-high 26 points in last week's win at Sacramento State
* Sophomore G Ricki Radanovich set career-highs with 21 points and 7 assists at Sacramento State
* SCU is 5-2 at home, Pepperdine enters the week 2-4 on the road
* The Broncos are averaging 74 points per game, while the Waves are scoring 61.5 per night
* The Waves were 18-12 (9-5 WCC) last season and made the WNIT
* Santa Clara has lost six straight to Pepperdine
* The Broncos will make the trip to Malibu in two weeks, playing at Pepperdine on Saturday, Jan. 14

LIVE COVERAGE
A live pay-per-view video broadcast will be available on Santa Clara's official athletics website (SantaClaraBroncos.com). John Nash (play-by-play) will call the action courtside from the Leavey Center. Additionally, free live stats will be available online as well.

SANTA CLARA
The Broncos (7-6) have enjoyed their best start under fourth-year head coach Jennifer Mountain, reeling off a five-game win streak in late November through early December. The Broncos scored 80+ points in wins over CSU Bakersfield, UC Davis, CSU Northridge and Sacramento State. The backcourt combination of senior Alyssa Shoji (17.5 ppg), junior Meagan Fulps (12.2 ppg) and sophomore Ricki Radanovich (7.5 ppg) has proven to be tough for opposing defenses to stop. The trio accounts for 90% of the team's three-point production, which has allowed Santa Clara to average 74 points per game, ranking second in the league behind Gonzaga's average of 77. After losing 6-foot 4-inch center Ruta Zurauskyte (12.8 ppg/7.8 rpg) to a season-ending injury in mid-December, the Broncos have looked to junior F Lindsay Leo (9.2 ppg) to play a larger role. Leo has responded nicely with four-straight double-figure scoring games, including a career-best 26 against Sac State last week.

PEPPERDINE
Eighth-year head coach Julie Rousseau and the Waves (5-6) have been up and down this season, losing 3 of 4 to begin the year before bouncing back with a four-game winning streak, beating Idaho, New Mexico, Cal Poly and CSU Northridge. Senior guard Lauren Bell (14.3 ppg) leads the conference with 3.4 steals per game (34 overall) and minutes played (39.1 per game). Classmate Jazmine Jackson (17.5 ppg) was honored as a 2010-11 All-WCC player and voted 'Defensive Player of the Year.'  The Waves, who have experience and high expectations this season, enter their Bay Area road trip looking for their first win since Dec. 3. Pepperdine dropped its final three nonconference games. Rousseau, a former WNBA head coach with the LA Sparks, is 109-112 all-time at Pepperdine.

ALL-TIME VERSUS PEPPERDINE
The Broncos and Waves have been extremely competitive throughout the years, with the all-time series at 31-30 Pepperdine. However, Santa Clara has dropped six in a row and are looking to pick up their first win against the Waves under current coach Jennifer Mountain. Both games last year resulted in double-digit losses for the Broncos, including a 69-49 setback at the Leavey Center.

HEAD COACH JENNIFER MOUNTAIN
'JMO' became the eighth Santa Clara University head women's basketball coach in April 2008. Mountain led the Broncos to a top-tier finish in the WCC standings in 2010-11 and for the third-straight year won at least one postseason game at the conference tournament. Her SCU teams have showed marked improved in her three seasons thus far. Mountain came to the Mission Campus after serving seven seasons as the top assistant coach at Gonzaga, where she helped the Bulldogs to four-straight WCC regular season championships and one WCC tournament crown. "Jen understands what Santa Clara is all about," said SCU Athletic Director Dan Coonan. "It's about competitive basketball but it's about so much more than that. Educating men and women for competence, conscience, and compassion -- that's what Santa Clara really stands for. We believe that and live that here. I think Jen is the perfect person who embodies those kinds of values."

The Jen Mountain File:

• Head Coach - Santa Clara University (2008-pres.)
• Assistant Coach- Gonzaga University (2001-08)
• Boys Head Coach - St. George's School (1994-2001)
• Amateur Player - Gonzaga University (1987-91)

SHOJI MAY BREAK 3PT RECORD SATURDAY

The Broncos are one of the NCAA's top 3-point shooting teams and Alyssa Shoji alone ranks No. 3 individually. The senior from Bellevue, Wash. can break the program's all-time 3-point shooting record of 244 set by Chandice Cronk '08 if she makes five 3s on Saturday (she averages 4.1 makes per game). Shoji enters the game with 240 for her career. Shoji is leaving quite a mark on the Bronco record-book, ranking among SCU's all-time top 10 in points, assists, 3s, FT% and minutes.

LAST TIME OUT
Archbishop Mitty product Lindsay Leo scored a career-high 26 points and Santa Clara's guards combined to make 14 threes en route to a 96-76 road win over Sacramento State on Thursday. Santa Clara (7-6) broke-open a close game by closing the first half on a 16-0 run. Leo made 11 of 12 shots and pulled down 13 rebounds. The Broncos' 96 points were the seventh-most in school history. Sacramento State (5-8) was fresh off an 87-84 home win over CSU Bakersfield Tuesday. The Hornets came in averaging over 72 points per night and continue to be the highest-scoring team in the Big Sky Conference.

QUOTABLE
"This game was so important for us, especially leading into conference," said Lindsay Leo after last week's win in Sacramento. "It was a great overall win. It started in warm-ups, we had energy right off the bat. It really was a team effort, our guards were on fire."

2011-12 WCC STANDINGS (Dec. 29)
Team - Overall (WCC)
1. BYU - 11-2 (0-0)
2. Gonzaga - 10-2 (0-0)
3. San Diego - 9-2 (0-0)
4. St. Mary's - 9-4 (0-0)
5. Santa Clara - 7-6 (0-0)
6. Portland  - 7-7 (0-0)
7. Pepperdine - 5-6 (0-0)
8. LMU - 4-8 (0-0)
9. San Francisco - 2-11 (0-0)

BRONCOS APPROACH ROAD SCORING RECORD
Santa Clara's 96 points in its 20-point win over Sacramento State Dec. 22 was a season-high and most since Dec. 28, 2005. The point-total was also the second highest on the road in school history, approaching the all-time road scoring record of 99 set in 1991 at Portland. The 96 points was the seventh-most in school history overall.

ALYSSA SHOJI NAMED TO JESUIT WEEKLY HONOR ROLL
Alyssa Shoji, who scored 23 points against Princeton (Dec. 19) and had 25 at Sacramento State (Dec. 22) was named to Jesuit Basketball's Weekly Honor Roll on Dec. 29. Shoji made 12 three-pointers in the two games. Her seven 3s at Sac State matched a career-high.

6-1 START FOR SANTA CLARA IS BEST IN OVER 10 YEARS
Fourth-year Santa Clara head coach Jennifer Mountain and her Broncos got off to a 6-1 start this season, the program's best since SCU went 9-0 to open the 1999-2000 campaign. The team scored over 80 points per game during that stretch, which ranked among the NCAA's leading offenses. Five of those wins came on their home floor at Santa Clara's Leavey Center.

ESPN RANKS RECRUITING CLASS NO. 56 NATIONALLY
The Bronco program is welcoming in one of the nation's top recruiting classes, according to ESPN.com. The class includes guards Nici Gilday and Tyler Woods along with frontcourt players Vanessa Leo (sister of current SCU teammate Lindsay Leo) and Colleen Rooney.

BRONCOS CAPITALIZE ON EARLY-SEASON HOME SCHEDULE
A year ago, SCU posted a winning record against WCC teams on its home floor and tied for fourth in the league standings. That momentum carried over into the new season, with the Broncos winning all five of their early-season home games. Wins against CSU Bakersfield (Nov. 11), Northern Colorado (Nov. 16), Southern Utah (Nov. 18), Long Beach State (Nov. 21) and UC Davis (Nov. 28) at the Leavey Center has SCU off to a perfect 5-0 start at home and a 5-1 overall record.

FULPS MAKES 17 FREE THROWS - SETS ALL-TIME RECORD
Junior guard Meagan Fulps established a new SCU school record by making 17 of 20 free throws in the Broncos' season-opening victory over CSU Bakersfield (Nov. 11). The 17 makes was a new record, breaking the previous mark of 15 set by SCU legends Melissa King '93 and Christine Silvernail '94.

SCU'S RUTA ZURAUSKYTE NAMED NATIONAL PLAYER OF WEEK
Following a 33-point, 13-rebound performance at UC Irvine (Dec. 3) and a 17-point effort in a victory at Cal State Northridge (Dec. 1), Santa Clara University junior Ruta Zurauskyte was named Jesuit Basketball's National Player of the Week. Zurauskyte posted four double-doubles this season and her 33 points vs. UC Irvine tied for the seventh-best single-game scoring night in Santa Clara history.

BRONCOS INK WASHINGTON'S KATIE HAWKINS TO NLI
Santa Clara University has received a National Letter of Intent from Katie Hawkins, a 5-foot-10 guard from Snohomish, Wash. and senior at Glacier Peak High School. Hawkins can really distribute the basketball, dishing out 4.2 assists per game last season, while averaging 12.5 points. ESPN.com writes 'Uncommon size and skill-set combination makes Hawkins not only a big point guard, but a player who can handle the other perimeter positions and provide a low-post element to each. At the point, she can make all the passes, including putting the ball on a laser from 3/4 court.' Hawkins was a First Team 3A All-WesCo league honoree last season. She led Glacier Peak to a 15-11 overall record and an appearance in the 2011 Washington State tournament at the Tacoma Dome. As a sophomore, Hawkins stepped up and was instrumental to the Grizzlies run in the district playoffs.

SCU'S LENA GIPSON SIGNS PRO CONTRACT
Record-setting SCU women's basketball alumna Lena Gipson '11 has signed a contract to play professionally in the Southern European island country of Malta. Gipson will be playing for Hibernians Medsea and former men's Italian National Team Head Coach Bruno Di Pietrantonio.

"My time at Santa Clara, as well as at the other universities that I've played at, and believing through injury, has reaffirmed the thought that through hard work and determination anything is possible," said Gipson. "Do not be discouraged, do not let yourself be deterred; if you set your mind to it you can achieve goals that you had never thought possible."

Gipson had been told that she wouldn't even be able to play recreational basketball after a major knee injury during her senior year of high school at San Joaquin Memorial near her hometown of Hanford, Calif.

WCC WELCOMES BYU
Brigham Young University has left the Mountain West Conference for the 2011-12 season, going independent in football and joining the West Coast Conference in all other sports, most notably men's and women's basketball. The Cougars return seven letterwinners from a team that won its third and final MWC regular season title and advanced to the final 16 of the WNIT last season.

WCC TOURNAMENT RETURNS TO VEGAS
The West Coast Conference will return to Las Vegas in 2012 for the Zappos.com WCC Basketball Championships February 29 through March 5. The #8 and #9 seeds will compete in the opening rounds to determine who will advance to the next round of the tournament. The #5 seed will then compete against the winner of the opening round. Waiting for the winners in the quarterfinals will be the #3 and #4 seeds, who will have first round byes. The winners of the quarterfinal match-ups will go head-to-head with the #1 and #2 seeds, who will have byes through the first two rounds of the tournament. Tickets are on sale now.

STRONG FINISH TO THE 2010-11 SEASON
The Santa Clara women's basketball team climbed up the league standings in 2010-11, finishing in a tie for fourth after winning 4 of 7 WCC games at home and winning 11 games overall. Jen Mountain's team closed out the season with a 9-9 record in their last 18 games, including winning back-to-back WCC games twice and beating rival USF at the WCC tournament in March.

FINAL 2010-11 WCC STANDINGS
1. No. 8 Gonzaga $ (14-0/31-5)
2. Saint Mary's % (10-4/19-13)
3. Pepperdine % (9-5/18-12)
T4. Portland (6-8/16-15)
T4. Santa Clara (6-8/11-19)
T6. Loyola Marymount (5-9/11 18)
T6. San Diego 5-9/17-14
8. San Francisco 1-13/4-25

# Rankings by ESPN Coaches Poll
! NCAA Tournament Elite Eight
^ WNIT First Round