SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Looking to continue to build on its best West Coast Conference start since 2008, Santa Clara women's basketball hosts San Francisco at the Leavey Center on Sat., Jan. 19 at 2 p.m. The Broncos are coming off of a defense-dominated game at Pepperdine which they won 38-36. The win moved the Broncos to 11-6 overall and 3-1 in conference play.
Santa Clara's 3-1 start in WCC play is its best since 2007-08 when it started 5-1 and finished the year 8-6. When asked about what had keyed the turnaround, Bronco head coach Jennifer Mountain had a simple answer.
"Our defense," said Mountain. "We're moving up in categories that we really put a lot of emphasis on at the beginning of the year and our players are really doing a great job to really game plan and get things done the way we need to. Our rebounding has also been a lot better. We have to do a better job scoring the basketball so it complements the two sides so we play a complete game."
Coming off of such a low scoring game where defense was key, Mountain knows that the team has to do a better job on offense if it wants to continue to stay near the top of the conference standings.
"Our defense obviously won the game for us at Pepperdine because we didn't score many points," said Mountain. "The beginning of the game we actually played the best 10 minutes of defense we've played in a while. We came out with fire and made them take tough shots. It got us some good looks in transition but we have to score the ball a little bit better than we did Thursday."
As a team Santa Clara shoots .399 (397-996) from the field and .315 (87-276) from downtown. Meagan Fulps leads Santa Clara with 11.4 points per game, ninth in the conference, while pulling down 3.5 rebounds per game. Fulps is shooting .352 (63-179) from the field and .333 (30-90) from deep. Ricki Radanovich is second on the team in scoring at 10.8 ppg and leads the Broncos with 38 threes made. Ruta Zurauskyte is averaging a team-best 7.4 rpg while also scored 9.6 ppg. Zurauskyte leads the team, shooting .489 (67-137) from the field. Lindsay Leo is shooting .440 (59-134) from the field and averaging 10.1 ppg and 7.1 rpg. Nici Gilday leads the team with 3.0 assists per game and scored 7.5 ppg on .447 (55-123) shooting from the field.
The Dons enter the game with a 8-10 record overall and a 1-4 mark in conference play. On Thursday they fell at LMU 65-50. USF beat Portland on Jan. 12 for its lone conference win thus far. On the road San Francisco is just 2-7 with season with wins coming at UTSA 61-60 in overtime and at Cal Poly 71-67. Santa Clara and USF have played eight common opponents with the Broncos posting a record of 5-3 and the Dons posting a mark of 3-5.
As a team San Francisco shoots .391 (419-1071) from the field and .310 (91-294) from deep. It is lead by Mel Khlok and her 16.1 ppg, which is good for fourth in the WCC. Khlok shoots .438 (84-192) from the field and .377 (40-106) from three. Zhane Dikes is scoring 10.3 ppg and shooting .396 (74-187) from the field while grabbing 4.0 rpg. Denae Williams is tops on USF in shooting with a mark of .494 (43-87) while also averaging 4.1 rpg. Alicia Scafidi leads the Dons with 7.2 rpg and scored 4.7 ppg on .375 (33-88) shooting.
"Mel Khlok and Taylor Proctor are going to be the biggest matchups for us," said Mountain. "Mel's senior year she is leading them in scoring and is doing a lot of different things for them. She plays with a lot of fire so we have to do a good job of containing them off the dribble and it will come down to if we score the basketball."