Non-Conference Finale On Tap For Santa Clara Thursday Afternoon

Non-Conference Finale On Tap For Santa Clara Thursday Afternoon

SANTA CLARA, Calif. - The Broncos are looking to snap a five-game losing streak Thursday at Sacramento State. The contest marks the final non-conference game for Santa Clara, prior to opening open WCC play after the holiday against Pepperdine on New Year's Eve. Tip-off Thursday in Sacramento is slated for 1 p.m.

Game Notes - Dec. 22, 2011
Thursday, Dec. 22, 2011 • 1 p.m.
Game #13 • Road Game #6  • Sacramento, Calif.
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*Sacramento State will host CSU Bakersfield Tues., Dec. 20
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* Santa Clara is led by fourth year head coach Jennifer Mountain
* The Broncos rank 9th in NCAA in 3PT shooting (8.1 pg)
* All-WCC G Alyssa Shoji ranks No. 3 nationally in 3PT FG per game (3.7)
* Shoji needs just 11 more 3s to break Santa Clara's all-time 3PT FG record
* F Lindsay Leo has scored in double-figures in three-straight games
* Leo ranks No. 6 in WCC in blocks (1.0 pg) and No 7 in FG% (49.4)
* The team's 6-1 start was the program's best since 2001-02
* SCU is 5-2 at home and 1-4 on the road
* SCU has lost five straight after beginning the season 6-1
* The Broncos were averaging 80 points per game but are scoring just 58.5 points per game in their last four
* SCU G Meagan Fulps is the No. 3-ranked 3-point shooter in the WCC at (1.9 pg) and also ranks No. 15 in scoring (12.6)
* Sacramento State is 4-1 on their home floor at 'The Nest'
* The Hornets defeated the Broncos 78-65 last season at the Leavey Center
* SCU leads the all-time Div. I series with Sac State 8-3
* Sac State junior F Kylie Kuhns leads the NCAA with 10 double-doubles
* The 6-foot Kuhns also ranks No. 3 nationally in rebounding (12.1 rpg)  
* NEXT UP: The WCC opener vs. Pepperdine on Saturday, Jan. 31 at home

A live FREE video broadcast will be available on Sacramento State's official athletics website (

The Broncos (6-6) are looking to bounce back from a tough stretch where the team has lost five straight and have scored just 58 points on average over their last four. A strong early-season start, fueled by  home wins over CSU Bakersfield, Northern Colorado, Southern Utah, Long Beach State and UC Davis had the Broncos a top the WCC standings throughout the month of November. Senior PG Alyssa Shoji (16.8 ppg) is on pace to become Santa Clara's all-time leading 3-point shooter, needing just 11 more to tie Chandice Cronk's '08 all-time mark of 244. Shoji and junior teammate G Meagan Fulps (12.6) are providing most of the offense while the team looks to fill a void inside left by injured junior C Ruta Zurauskyte (12.8 ppg/7.8 rpg). Junior F Lindsay Leo has stepped up and set a career-high with 14 rebounds against city rival San Jose State on Saturday, however as a team the Broncos shot just 20 percent from the floor in that 21-point loss. A win Thursday in Sacramento would allow the team a much-needed momentum change heading into WCC play following the Christmas holiday.  

The Hornets (4-7) third-year head coach and University of Oregon alumna Jamie Craighead has pushed the tempo in Sacramento. Her Hornets have led the Big Sky Conference in scoring over the past two seasons but posted an overall record of 4-25 last season, 1-15 in the Big Sky. This year Sac State has beaten three Division I teams thus far, including Long Beach State 74-67 at home on Nov. 19. Junior F Kylie Kuhns (14.6 ppg/12.1 rpg) is one of the nation's best rebounders. Sac State is 4-1 at home and 0-6 on the road.

The Broncos are 11-6 all time against the Hornets (8-3 following the Hornet's move to Division I), but are 0-2 in the last three years.  Three years ago, in Jennifer Mountains first year as head coach, the Broncos lost at home by 10.  Last year, also at home, SCU suffered a 13 point loss. Santa Clara made just 7 of 36 attempts from three point range in the 78-65 defeat last season. Lena Gipson scored an SCU team-high 16 to pace the Broncos, while Kylie Kuhns scored 24 points and pulled down eight boards for Sac State.

2011-12 WCC STANDINGS (Dec. 20)
Team (Overall)
1. BYU (10-2)  
2. Gonzaga (9-2)
3. San Diego (8-2) 
4. St. Mary's (8-4)  
T5. Santa Clara (6-6)  
T5.. Pepperdine (5-5)    
7. Portland (6-7)   
8. LMU (4-8)
9. San Francisco (2-10) 

'JMO' became the eighth Santa Clara University head women's basketball coach in April 2008. Mountain led the Broncos to a top-tier finish in the WCC standings in 2010-11 and for the third-straight year won at least one postseason game at the conference tournament. Her SCU teams have showed marked improved in her three seasons thus far. Mountain came to the Mission Campus after serving seven seasons as the top assistant coach at Gonzaga, where she helped the Bulldogs to four-straight WCC regular season championships and one WCC tournament crown. "Jen understands what Santa Clara is all about," said SCU Athletic Director Dan Coonan. "It's about competitive basketball but it's about so much more than that. Educating men and women for competence, conscience, and compassion -- that's what Santa Clara really stands for. We believe that and live that here. I think Jen is the perfect person who embodies those kinds of values."

The Jen Mountain File:

• Head Coach - Santa Clara University (2008-pres.)
• Assistant Coach- Gonzaga University (2001-08)
• Boys Head Coach - St. George's School (1994-2001)
• Amateur Player - Gonzaga University (1987-91)

Fourth-year Santa Clara head coach Jennifer Mountain and her Broncos got off to a 6-1 start this season, the program's best since SCU went 9-0 to open the 1999-2000 campaign. The team scored over 80 points per game during that stretch, which was among the NCAA's leading offenses. Five of those wins came on their home floor at Santa Clara's Leavey Center.

Santa Clara University senior guard Alyssa Shoji was named a preseason All-West Coast Conference player. The final-year Bronco from Bellevue, Wash., is Santa Clara's lone senior and starting point guard who played more minutes per night (34.8) than any other player in the WCC last season. She's undoubtedly been one of the best shooters in the WCC over the past three seasons.

The Bronco program is welcoming in one of the nation's top recruiting classes, according to The class includes guards Nici Gilday and Tyler Woods along with frontcourt players Vanessa Leo (sister of current SCU teammate Lindsay Leo) and Colleen Rooney.

A year ago, SCU posted a winning record against WCC teams on its home floor and tied for fourth in the league standings. That momentum carried over into the new season, with the Broncos winning all five of their early-season home games. Wins against CSU Bakersfield (Nov. 11), Northern Colorado (Nov. 16), Southern Utah (Nov. 18), Long Beach State (Nov. 21) and UC Davis (Nov. 28) at the Leavey Center has SCU off to a perfect 5-0 start at home and a 5-1 overall record.

Junior guard Meagan Fulps established a new SCU school record by making 17 of 20 free throws in the Broncos' season-opening victory over CSU Bakersfield (Nov. 11). The 17 makes was a new record, breaking the previous mark of 15 set by SCU legends Melissa King '93 and Christine Silvernail '94.

Following a 33-point, 13-rebound performance at UC Irvine (Dec. 3) and a 17-point effort in a victory at Cal State Northridge (Dec. 1), Santa Clara University junior Ruta Zurauskyte was named Jesuit Basketball's National Player of the Week. Zurauskyte has posted four double-doubles this season and her 33 points vs. UC Irvine tied for the seventh-best single-game scoring night in Santa Clara history.

"She is a very determined individual," said Santa Clara head coach Jennifer Mountain in a recent interview. "I am extremely proud of her effort and the leadership role she has taken on with this team. Offensively, she has done a great job of developing her skill set and is improving on the defensive end daily. She's a shot blocker, a threat every time she touches the ball, and she has the heart to succeed."

Santa Clara University has received a National Letter of Intent from Katie Hawkins, a 5-foot-10 guard from Snohomish, Wash. and senior at Glacier Peak High School. Hawkins can really distribute the basketball, dishing out 4.2 assists per game last season, while averaging 12.5 points. writes 'Uncommon size and skill-set combination makes Hawkins not only a big point guard, but a player who can handle the other perimeter positions and provide a low-post element to each. At the point, she can make all the passes, including putting the ball on a laser from 3/4 court.' Hawkins was a First Team 3A All-WesCo league honoree last season. She led Glacier Peak to a 15-11 overall record and an appearance in the 2011 Washington State tournament at the Tacoma Dome. As a sophomore, Hawkins stepped up and was instrumental to the Grizzlies run in the district playoffs.

Record-setting SCU women's basketball alumna Lena Gipson '11 has signed a contract to play professionally in the Southern European island country of Malta. Gipson will be playing for Hibernians Medsea and former men's Italian National Team Head Coach Bruno Di Pietrantonio.

"My time at Santa Clara, as well as at the other universities that I've played at, and believing through injury, has reaffirmed the thought that through hard work and determination anything is possible," said Gipson. "Do not be discouraged, do not let yourself be deterred; if you set your mind to it you can achieve goals that you had never thought possible."

Gipson had been told that she wouldn't even be able to play recreational basketball after a major knee injury during her senior year of high school at San Joaquin Memorial near her hometown of Hanford, Calif.

Brigham Young University has left the Mountain West Conference for the 2011-12 season, going independent in football and joining the West Coast Conference in all other sports, most notably men's and women's basketball. The Cougars return seven letterwinners from a team that won its third and final MWC regular season title and advanced to the final 16 of the WNIT last season.

The West Coast Conference will return to Las Vegas in 2012 for the WCC Basketball Championships February 29 through March 5. The #8 and #9 seeds will compete in the opening rounds to determine who will advance to the next round of the tournament. The #5 seed will then compete against the winner of the opening round. Waiting for the winners in the quarterfinals will be the #3 and #4 seeds, who will have first round byes. The winners of the quarterfinal match-ups will go head-to-head with the #1 and #2 seeds, who will have byes through the first two rounds of the tournament. Tickets are on sale now.
The Santa Clara women's basketball team climbed up the league standings in 2010-11, finishing in a tie for fourth after winning 4 of 7 WCC games at home and winning 11 games overall. Jen Mountain's team closed out the season with a 9-9 record in their last 18 games, including winning back-to-back WCC games twice and beating rival USF at the WCC tournament in March.

1. No. 8 Gonzaga $ (14-0/31-5)
2. Saint Mary's % (10-4/19-13)
3. Pepperdine % (9-5/18-12)
T4. Portland (6-8/16-15)
T4. Santa Clara (6-8/11-19)
T6. Loyola Marymount (5-9/11 18)
T6. San Diego 5-9/17-14
8. San Francisco 1-13/4-25

# Rankings by ESPN Coaches Poll
! NCAA Tournament Elite Eight
^ WNIT First Round