SANTA CLARA, Calif. - After a successful open to the conference season, Santa Clara women's basketball will hosts Saint Mary's Thurs., Jan. 9 at 7 p.m. and Pacific Sat., Jan. 11 at 2 p.m. Last week Santa Clara took two of three in its first conference action of the season. After the first week of West Coast Conference action the Broncos are 6-8 overall and 2-1 in conference play.
"I like where we're at right now," said Santa Clara head coach Jennifer Mountain. "We did a good job on the road but I would have liked to get that overtime win at Pepperdine. Our mental state is good going into this big week at home with our rival Saint Mary's and Pacific for the first time in the conference. It's going to be two really tough games against good opponents."
Santa Clara is averaging 71.4 points per game and is shooting 42.2% (352-834) from the field. The Broncos are shooting 28.0% (63-225) from deep and 74.1% (232-313) from the free throw line. They are averaging 42.7 rebounds per game, 15.9 assists per game, 20.1 turnovers per game, 5.6 steals per game, and 2.9 blocks per game.
Nici Gilday leads the Broncos with 16.0 ppg on 40.4% (82-203) shooting from the field. Gilday adds 3.6 rpg, 2.7 apg and 1.4 spg while playing a team-high 32.8 minutes per game. Vanessa Leo leads the team with 5.9 rpg while scoring 7.0 ppg on 41.5% (34-82) shooting. Ruta Zurauskyte, coming off three-straight 20+ point games, has seen action in all 14 games and is second on the team with 10.7 ppg and adds 4.8 rpg while shooting a conference-best 59.4% (60-101) from the floor. Zurauskyte leads the Broncos with 17 blocks.
Of the 70 starts for Santa Clara in 2013, 35 have been made by true freshmen. Jo Paine from Oregon City, Ore., Montana Walters, also from Oregon City, Ore. and Marie Bertholdt of Alameda, Calif. have started 17, seven, and 11 games, respectively.
Paine has started every game and is third on the team with 10.6 ppg while adding 5.2 rpg. She had her first career double-double at Pepperdine on Jan. 2 when she scored a set career highs with 28 points and 14 rebounds. Paine is shooting 44.7% (51-114) from the floor and leads the team with 19 threes made.
Walters has started seven games and leads the team with 3.0 apg while scoring 5.8 ppg. Walters is adding 2.6 rpg and has hit 13 threes.
Bertholdt has started the last 11 games and has played in all 14. She is averaging 8.4 ppg and 6.2 rpg while shooting 60.3% (35-58) from the floor. She set a career-high with 10 rebounds at Pepperdine on Jan. 2. Bertholdt also leads the team in free throws made (48) and attempted (63), good for a 76.2% mark from the charity stripe.
"Our conference is so wide open right now," said Mountain. "Saint Mary's is No. 16 in the RPI but dropped two games last weekend. There is so much that can happen and we're playing two teams that are predicted to be in the top half of our conference. If we can get a good win this week it will really help our program."
Santa Clara is 33-31 all-time vs. Saint Mary's and 15-16 at the Leavey Center. Last season the Broncos lost 56-50 at home vs. the Gaels and 65-56 on the road.
The Gaels enter the week with a 12-3 overall mark and a 2-2 mark in WCC play. Last week Saint Mary's dropped both games at San Diego and at BYU after a 2-0 start to conference play. After a 7-0 start to the season, Saint Mary's fell at Sacramento State before winning five more in a row.
Saint Mary's is averaging 80.3 ppg and is shooting 44.7% (397-889) from the field. The Gaels are shooting 41.5% (85-205) from deep and 77.3% (326-422) from the free throw line. They are averaging 43.8 rpg, 13.9 apg, 17.0 tpg, 6.9 spg, and 2.9 bpg.
Jackie Nared leads the WCC in scoring with 21.3 ppg on 51.3% (97-189) shooting from the field and 48.1% (25-52) from three. She adds 7.4 rpg, 2.8 apg, and 1.6 spg. Danielle Maudlin leads the conference with 13.9 rpg while scoring 17.5 ppg on 44.1% (82-186) shooting. Maudlin leads the Gaels with 23 blocks and has added 25 steals. Kate Gaze leads the WCC with 5.2 apg and is scoring 13.6 ppg. Gaze also leads the conference in free throw percentage with an 86.5% (64-74) mark.
"We're playing two different types of opponents this week so we'll have to do a few things," said Mountain. "We have got to defend the on-ball vs. Saint Mary's and we have to rebound. They have one of the best rebounders in the country. Obviously we have to take care of the basketball in both games. Against Pacific we need to do a good job against the dribble-drive. It's going to come down to contesting shots and rebounding."
Santa Clara is 25-16 all-time vs. Pacific and 11-6 at the Leavey Center. Last season the Broncos lost at Pacific 72-45.
The Tigers are 6-8 overall with a 1-3 mark in conference play. Last week they won at BYU but lost at undefeated San Diego in overtime. Pacific has faced three ranked teams this year and took No. 21 Cal to overtime before falling 68-22. The Tigers also lost vs. No. 24 Florida State and No. 23 Gonzaga.
Pacific is averaging 73.6 ppg and is shooting 41.1% (361-879) from the field. The Tigers are shooting 31.7% (82-259) from deep and 65.3% (226-346) from the free throw line. They are averaging 39.1 rpg, 14.5 apg, 18.6 tpg, 10.5 spg, and 3.0 bpg.
Kendall Kenyon leads the team with 17.7 ppg on 51.9% (94-181) shooting from the field and 81.9% (59-72) from the charity stripe. She is second in the conference with 11.1 rpg and averages 1.6 bpg as well. KiKi Moore is scoring 15.1 ppg and leads the team with 4.5 apg. Moore adds 4.8 rpg and a team-best 2.9 spg. Madison Parrish is tied for the team lead with 18 threes made while scoring 10.5 ppg and adding 3.4 apg and 2.0 rpg.