SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Finishing its four-game swing through California, Santa Clara women's basketball heads to Bakersfield, to take on CSU Bakersfield on Wed., Dec. 19 before having a 10-day break. The Broncos enter the game with CSU Bakersfield at 5-5, coming off of a win at San Jose State on Dec. 12 and a loss at UC Davis on Dec. 16. Both teams have taken down UC Irvine in 2012 (SCU 77-54, CSUB 71-64).
"I thought today's practice and film session was very productive," said Santa Clara head coach Jennifer Mountain. "I think the players really saw some of the things we were talking about from last game. Sometimes when you're in the heat of the moment you can't recognize some of your mistakes. This is the game before we leave for Christmas and it's got to be an all-in effort from everybody. We can't pace ourselves and just try to get through. We have to really throw that punch and play hard for 40 minutes."
One of the biggest benefits for the Broncos is the return of Lindsay Leo, who missed two games with an injury. With Leo back in the fold, Santa Clara has more offensive options and another post presence.
"Obviously giving us a second post players makes it easier for either one of them to score," said Mountain. "She helped on the boards more than anything the other night and getting her back into the flow of the offense was important. She's also one of our senior leaders and is an automatic scoring threat so people have to guard us differently. I expect her to be a big part of the offensive things but more importantly defensively. We were really scarce there in the post and foul trouble was a concern."
With its four-game road trip concluding, the Broncos must play strong defense to end the trip on a high note.
"It's our defensive intensity," said Mountain. "Bakersfield is a team that slashes and gets to the rim but don't shoot the ball that well. Our defense fuels our offense and when we're playing well defensively we're certainly a better team offensively. We also have to knock down shots and take care of the ball."
As a team Santa Clara is shooting .400 (243-608) from the field and .332 (61-184) from beyond the arc. The Broncos have outrebounded opponents 388-383 and are forcing 18.7 turnovers per game. Santa Clara is also dishing out more assists than its opponents (153-127).
Preseason All-WCC senior guard Meagan Fulps leads Santa Clara with 13.6 points per game while also averaging 3.3 rebounds per game. Her .420 shooting percentage from three is 45th in the nation. She is second on the team with 16 steals, behind Ricki Randanovich who has 28. Radanovich is second on the Broncos with 11.4 ppg and is grabbing 2.6 rpg.
Leo is averaging 9.4 points and is tied for the team lead with 6.9 rpg. Leo has 12 blocks this season and is two away from taking over second place on the all-time list at Santa Clara. Leo has 82 career blocks, one behind Christine Rigby (1996-98) and Ashley Gonnerman (2003-2007). Leo should move into second place by herself before the end of the year. The career leader, Annie Garrison (1997-2001), has 207 so it will be quite a season if Leo can take over the all-time lead.
Ruta Zurauskyte has scored 10.0 ppg and is shooting .506 (40-79) from the field while grabbing 6.9 rpg. Nici Gilday's 2.21 assist to turnover ratio has her at 32nd in the country while scoring 7.0 ppg and pulling down 4.3 rpg.
The Roadrunners enter the game with a 2-9 mark overall with the lone wins coming at Northern Arizona 71-68 and at UC Irvine 71-64. Last week CSU Bakersfield lost at Air Force 82-78 in overtime and at Colorado State 56-54. The team is shooting .335 (232-693) from the field and just .280 (60-214) from three. The Roadrunners are also being out rebounded by nearly seven boards per game and average 18.3 turnovers per game.
Two Bakersfield players, Amber Williams (13.7) and Tyonna Outland (12.7), are averaging double figures. Williams also leads the team with 17 steals while averaging 1.73 assists per game and 2.4 rebounds per game. Outland is averaging 4.5 rpg while shooting .333 (10-30) from beyond the arc. Janae Coffee leads the team with 8.3 rpg and has added 8.0 ppg. Batabe Zempare leads the team with a .472 (25-53) field goal percentage and is second with 7.1 rpg. She is also 13-15 from the free throw line, good for a team-high .867 percentage.