SCU Aims for Road Wins at Gonzaga and Portland This Week

SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Santa Clara has some momentum, having won 2 of 3, including winning back-to-back games against USF and LMU. The Broncos are closing out the regular season by playing 3 of 4 on the road, beginning with dates at No. 23 Gonzaga Thursday night and at Portland on Saturday. 

Game Notes - Feb. 16/18, 2012
SANTA CLARA (10-15; 3-9) @ #23 GONZAGA (22-4; 11-2)
 
Thursday, Feb. 16, 2012 • 6:15 p.m.
Game #26 • Road Game #12 • Spokane, Wash.
Listen Live


SANTA CLARA @ PORTLAND (9-17; 2-10)*

Saturday, Feb. 18, 2012 • 7 p.m.
Game #27 • Road Game #13 • Portland, Ore.
Listen Live

*Portland will host Pepperdine Thursday, Feb. 16

WEEKLY NOTES

* Santa Clara is led by fourth-year head coach Jennifer Mountain, who played at Gonzaga (1987-91) and was an assistant coach there (2001-08)
* The Broncos are coming off a split last week at home, beating LMU 61-57
* SCU will play three of four on the road to close out the regular season
* SCU has gone 3-8 on the road; 1-4 on the road vs. WCC
* Senior G Alyssa Shoji just eclipsed the 1,300-point plateau (6th all-time at SCU); she ranks No. 5 in NCAA in 3PT FG (3.3 pg) and needs 13 more 3s to break SCU's season record of 94 set by Chandice Cronk in 2006-07
* Santa Clara ranks No. 12 in NCAA in 3PT-shooting (7.5 pg) as a team
* Junior F Lindsay Leo ranks 2nd in WCC in FG % (53.4) and 4th in blocks (29)
* Preseason WCC favorite Gonzaga dropped out of the AP Top 25 after a 30-point road loss at BYU last Thursday, but are No. 23 in the ESPN Poll
* The Zags have won 7-straight WCC regular season titles and are 10-2 at home this season
* Saturday night's game at UP figures to impact WCC tournament seeding
* Santa Clara defeated Portland 78-63 at the Leavey Center on Jan. 5
* Portland has lost 15 of 19 after starting the season 5-2

LIVE COVERAGE

Live pay-per-view audio stream will be available online for both games this week on Santa Clara's official athletics website (SantaClaraBroncos.com). Sam Farber (play-by-play) will call all the action courtside from the Northwest.

SANTA CLARA
The Broncos (10-15; 3-9 WCC) close out the regular season with some important games that will impact the team's seeding in the upcoming WCC tournament. Wins against Portland on Saturday night and against USF at home next week, could all but assure the team a sixth or seventh-place finish - avoiding the tournament's play-in game between the eighth and ninth place finishers on Wednesday night in Vegas. Santa Clara has enjoyed some consistency in its starting lineup throughout WCC play, starting the same five players in 11 of 12 league games, with Ashley Armstrong missing a start, but still playing at LMU due to illness. Local product Lindsay Leo, who attended Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose, is averaging 11.8 points and 8.2 rebounds in WCC play, complementing the backcourt combination of senior Alyssa Shoji (14.6 ppg), junior Meagan Fulps (11.2 ppg) and sophomore Ricki Radanovich (7.7 ppg), who have helped Santa Clara rank among the NCAA's top 3-point shooting teams.

QUOTABLE
"I really challenged (our players) in the beginning of that second half to put the defensive clamps down on people," said Santa Clara head coach Jennifer Mountain after Thursday's comeback win over LMU. "I thought our energy level, collectively, throughout the game was pretty good. I also challenged our players to get the ball inside and they did a great job getting it into Lindsay (Leo)."

GONZAGA
The Bulldogs (22-4; 11-2 WCC) continue to be the top team in the league, but their streak of seven straight regular season WCC titles is being challenged this year by league newcomer BYU and a surprising San Diego team. The Zags lost to BYU in Provo 70-40 last Thursday, but bounced back to defeat USF 79-59 two nights later. GU is closing out the regular season with three-straight games against Santa Clara, Pepperdine and BYU.  Considering GU has won 12 straight against Santa Clara and six straight against Pepperdine, it would be hard to imagine they are not looking ahead to next Saturday's matchup with BYU.

ALL-TIME VERSUS GU
SCU leads the all-time series 27-26. However, Gonzaga has won the last 12 games dating back to the 2006-07 season. But Santa Clara was competitive with GU on Jan. 19 at the Leavey Center, leading at the half, which was much different than the last four meetings prior to this season, which had been dominated by Gonzaga's 25+ point wins in each of those previous four.  SCU trailed by just six in the closing moments on Jan. 19, getting 17 points and five 3s from senior guard Alyssa Shoji, before eventually losing 81-68.

PORTLAND
The Pilots (9-17; 2-10 WCC) picked up a big win at LMU last Thursday, beating the Lions 80-63 behind Natalie Day's 18 points and 9 rebounds. Portland went 8 of 20 from 3-point range in that recent win, which snapped a five-game losing skid a stretch of winning just once in 11 outings. The Pilots are averaging 63.3 points per game, while giving up 69.8. Day continues to be one of the league's top rebounders (7.8 rpg), FG % shooters (51.3) and scorers (17.9 ppg).

ALL-TIME VERSUS UP
SCU leads the all-time series 32-26, but is 2-5 in the last six meetings. The Broncos lost a close one on the road to the Pilots in their first meeting of last season, but bounced back with a 77-55 blowout at home on 'Senior Day' at the Leavey Center. In the two team's most recent meeting, back on Jan. 5 in Santa Clara, the Broncos turned an 11-point halftime deficit into a 15-point win, 78-63, thanks to Alyssa Shoji's 19 points and five threes.

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)

2011-12 WCC STANDINGS (Feb. 13)
Team (WCC) Overall
1. No. 23 Gonzaga (11-2) 22-4
2. BYU (10-2) 22-4
3. San Diego (9-3) 18-6
4. Saint Mary's (9-4) 18-8
5. Pepperdine (7-5) 12-11
6. Santa Clara (3-9) 10-15
7. LMU (3-10) 7-18
8. San Francisco (2-11) 4-22
9. Portland (2-10) 8-17 

FACING TOP TEAMS
Santa Clara has played five teams ranked or listed among the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Top 25 this season. WCC members No. 23 Gonzaga (22-4) and BYU (22-4); and non-conference opponents who are all receiving votes: Cal (18-7), Princeton (17-4) and Fresno State (20-4).

SANTA CLARA'S SHOJI ONE OF NCAA'S TOP 3-POINT SHOOTERS
From Jan. 3 through Jan. 15, Alyssa Shoji, Santa Clara University's women's basketball point guard, led all NCAA Division I players in three-point shooting. The senior from Bellevue, Wash. averaged 3.9 makes per game at the time, ranking No. 1 nationally in the NCAA and her shooting percentage came in at No. 1 as well (at her current pace both will be new single-season school records).

SHOJI SHATTERS ALL-TIME 3-POINT RECORD
Alyssa Shoji, SCU's All-WCC senior guard from Bellevue, Wash., broke SCU's all-time 3-point shooting record of 244 set by Chandice Cronk '08 when she made five 3s on Thursday, Jan. 5 against Portland. 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. She is on pace to establish new single-season program records in 3s and 3PT % this season.  

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.

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.

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.

ESPN RANKS SCU RECRUITS AMONG BEST
The Bronco program is welcoming in one of the nation's top recruiting classes, according to ESPN.com., who ranked the class No. 56 nationally. 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.

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 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.

WCC TOURNAMENT TICKET UPDATE
All-session tickets are sold out.  However, a limited number of single game tickets are expected to be available each morning during the tournament at the Orleans Arena box office.  Any single game tickets available will go on sale at 10 a.m. each day for that day's games.

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