SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Playing on national television for the first time this season, Santa Clara women's basketball will host rival Gonzaga in a big West Coast Conference matchup on Thur., Feb. 21. The game will be broadcast live on NBC Sports Network starting at 6:00 p.m. with Ted Robinson and Krista Blunk making the call. The game time has been moved up one hour from 7 p.m. to accommodate television.
The game will also be the Broncos REPRESENT game. The West Coast Conference REPRESENT games are intended to promote good sportsmanship and educate student-fan groups about positive behavior.
In addition, the Santa Clara Community Relay for Life is partnering with the Santa Clara University Relay for Life and kicking-off its Relay for Life sign up at the Gonzaga-Santa Clara game. Those interested can register, donate or wear purple to the game in support.
Santa Clara enters the game with a 13-12 overall record and a 5-7 mark in conference. Last week the Broncos fell in Provo, Utah to BYU by a final of 65-42.
"Any time you can expose your program, your university and what you're doing, it's always a positive thing," said Santa Clara head coach Jennifer Mountain about the Broncos game on national television. "I hope that it's a good game and we give them a good run. Last year here it was a great game with us down just two with a minute and a half to go. I'm hoping we can come out and provide the same type of performance, only with a win instead of a loss."
As a team, the Broncos shoot 38.7 percent from the field and 30.3 percent from beyond the arc. Ricki Radanovich leads the team with 10.8 points per game and has hit a team-best 57 threes. Radanovich adds 2.7 rebounds per game and makes a team-high 1.9 steals per game. Meagan Fulps averages 10.4 ppg while grabbing 3.2 rpg and dishing out 2.2 assists per game.
Ruta Zurauskyte is second on the Broncos with 7.0 rpg while scoring 9.9 ppg. Zurauskyte also leads the team shooting 49.7 percent from the field. She blocks 1.1 shots per game. Nici Gilday has stepped into the starting lineup and is showing a well-rounded game. Gilday averages 7.3 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 2.6 apg and 1.2 spg. Raquel Avila leads Santa Clara with 3.0 apg while scoring 4.1 ppg.
"Our post play with Ruta [Zurauskyte] should be an advantage," said Mountain. "We are patient and when we are patient we take good shots. We can shoot the basketball so being patient is important. We need to come out and execute our game plan and control the tempo of the game."
Senior forward Lindsay Leo went down on Feb. 5 with a torn ACL and will be out the rest of the season. Leo was averaging 9.7 ppg, a team-high 7.1 rpg and 2.2 bpg. She ends her Santa Clara career at No. 2 on the all-time blocks list.
Gonzaga enters the week with an overall record of 22-5 and a 12-1 mark in the WCC. The team is 8-1 on the road. The Zags have taken down Wisconsin and USC with losses to Louisville, Ohio State and Stanford. The lone blemish on Gonzaga's conference record is a 54-51 loss at Saint Mary's on Jan. 10. Earlier this season, the Broncos traveled to Spokane and fell by a final of 79-50. All-time Santa Clara is 27-28 vs. the Zags and 16-11 at the Leavey Center.
Gonzaga shoots 43.3 percent from the field, second in the conference, and an impressive 38.2 percent from three, which leads the WCC. The Zags are outscoring opponents by 15.7 ppg. Gonzaga leads the WCC in both scoring offense (70.5 ppg) and scoring defense (54.9 ppg). The Bulldogs also lead the conference in turnover margin (+6.0) and assist to turnover ratio (1.2).
The Zags' Haiden Palmer leads the team with 12.4 ppg on 40.4 percent shooting from the field. Palmer adds 3.4 rpg and a team-high 3.0 spg. Taelor Karr scores 10.4 ppg on 43.8 percent shooting. Karr leads the WCC in three-point field goal percentage with a mark of 45.0 percent. She is second on the team with 3.4 apg and adds 3.5 rpg. Sunny Greinacher is tops on the conference with a 55.7 percent mark from the field while scoring 9.4 ppg and pulling down 4.9 rpg. Shelby Cheslek leads Gonzaga with 5.4 rpg and 1.6 bpg while scoring 5.7 ppg. Jazmine Redmond has dished out a team-high 3.9 apg, fourth in the WCC, with 6.3 ppg and 3.0 spg.
"I don't know if there's just one key matchup because they're so well-rounded," said Mountain. "We have to do a really good job of slowing the guards down. They are so good in transition and they really fuel off turnovers or quick shots. Haiden Palmer and Taelor Karr are the two guards that really explode in transition. Jazmine Redmon runs the point for them, but it's Palmer and Karr we have to do a better job on. We also have to do a better job of containing the bigs and being more physical with them."