SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Coming off of a weekend split in the Northwest, Santa Clara women's basketball returns to the court for one game this week vs. LMU on Thur., Jan. 10 at 7 p.m. at the Leavey Center. Santa Clara beat Portland 59-58 in the conference-opener but fell to Gonzaga 79-50.
Santa Clara enters the week with a 9-6 overall record and a 1-1 mark in West Coast Conference play. The Broncos are 42-19 all-time vs. LMU and 9-7 at the Leavey Center. Last season at home Santa Clara beat LMU 61-57. Against common opponents this year both teams are 1-0 with wins over Long Beach State.
"I really like the matchup for our inside play," said Santa Clara head coach Jennifer Mountain. "I don't think that overall they have the skill that we do in the post and the depth that we have. With Alex Cowling being in the game she's always a threat to score depending on where she is. I think if we play well and get good ball movement, our post players are going to have good opportunities."
Meagan Fulps leads Santa Clara with 11.9 ppg and just moved into ninth place all-time on the Santa Clara scoring list. She has 1,149 career points and broke into the top-10 with her layup early in the game vs. Portland. Fulps adds 3.2 rpg, 1.8 assists per game and 1.3 spg.
Ricki Radanovich is second in scoring with 11.5 ppg while leading the team in threes made with 36. Radanovich shoots .365 (61-167) from the field and .340 (36-106) from downtown. Ruta Zurauskyte leads the Broncos with 7.3 rpg and is averaging 10.0 ppg while shooting a team-best .500 (60-120) from the field. Lindsay Leo leads the team with 1.6 blocks per game and is second in rebounding at 6.9 rpg. Leo shoots .445 (49-110) from the field but leads the team with a .848 (28-33) from the charity stripe. Nici Gilday is averaging 7.5 ppg off the bench while leading the team with 3.2 assists per game.
The Lions enter the game at 7-8 overall and 1-1 in conference play. They won their conference-opener vs. Pepperdine 65-47 but lost to Saint Mary's 84-77 in overtime. LMU has also taken down Long Beach State 58-52 and Oregon State 73-62. The lone ranked opponent it has played is No. 19 UCLA and the Bruins beat the Lions 86-66 in Los Angeles. The Lions are winless on the road this season at 0-5 and just 1-1 on neutral floors.
LMU allows 17.6 free throws made per game and 23.4 attempted per game so getting the charity stripe could play a big role on Thursday.
"A lot of their trouble giving up free throws is because they aren't very big," said Mountain. "I think our inside play can give them a little bit of trouble if we play well and are aggressive. On the outside we need to try to make things happen by getting to the rim. We're not a very aggressive free throw shooting team but if our post players are aggressive they'll find themselves at the line and hopefully we do a good job of shooting from the line."
LMU is lead on offense by Alex Cowling and Hazel Ramirez who each average double-figure points. Cowling leads the team with 15.7 ppg while placing second with 7.2 rpg. She shoots .398 (82-206) from the field and .260 (19-73) from deep. Ramirez scores 12.5 ppg and pulls down 2.7 rpg while dishing out a team-high 5.7 apg. She leads the team with 3.3 spg and shoots .327 (59-180) from the field, including .333 (20-60) from three. Mackenzie Kerins leads the team with 7.5 rpg while scoring 7.3 ppg. She shoots .455 (50-110) from the field, tops on the team and has added 2.1 steals per game.
"Alex Cowling is the key matchup," said Mountain. "She's a WCC Player of the Year candidate and can score in a variety of different ways. She can shoot the three and is a big, strong, athletic guard that always plays some forward. She'll look to post our guards up, get to the rim and she can do a little bit of everything. We've got to contain her and keep her limited in her touches."
The Broncos will also have to contend with another key player for the Lions in Hazel Ramirez.
"The other matchup be Hazel Ramirez who is their point guard, she does a great job of being crafty in transition," continued Mountain. "She pushes the tempo, has improved a ton over the last year and is really looking to score the ball more than ever. Ramirez is going to be a really good matchup for [Raquel Avila] because they're very similar in speed so it will be interesting to see what happens."