BYU faces former conference foe Santa Clara in WBIT First Round

BYU and Santa Clara face off in the first round of the inaugural Women’s Basketball Invitational Tournament at the Leavey Center on March 21 at 6 p.m. PT.

BYU prepares for a Big 12 Tournament matchup with Kansas.BYU prepares for a Big 12 Tournament matchup with Kansas.

PROVO, Utah — BYU and Santa Clara face off in the first round of the inaugural Women’s Basketball Invitational Tournament at the Leavey Center on March 21 at 6 p.m. PT. 

Matchup Breakdown

The Cougars and Broncos have met 28 times in series history with BYU emerging victorious in 25 of the contests. The former WCC foes last met on Feb. 16, 2023, when the Cougars knocked off the Broncos 78-72 at the Leavey Center.

All-Time: 25-3

In Provo: 12-1

In Santa Clara: 11-1

At Neutral Site: 1-1

Whiting vs. Santa Clara: 1-1



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BYU Cougars (16-16, 6-12 Big 12 Conference)

POSTSEASON BASKETBALL IS UPON US: BYU will make its 28th postseason appearance when the Cougars take the floor on Thursday against the Santa Clara Broncos. The team from Provo has made five-consecutive trips to the postseason (NCAA Tournament or WNIT), excluding the 2020 COVID canceled season and holds an all-time postseason record of 16-23.

66 POINTS IS THE MAGIC NUMBER: Coach Whiting prides her team on their ability to defend. Her defense has held opponents to 65.9 points per game this season and 16 of its 32 opponents to 66 or fewer points. When holding teams under the 66-point threshold, BYU is 15-1. When surrendering over 66 points, the Cougars are 1-14 on the year.

THE FINAL RIDE FOR A BYU ALL-TIME GREAT: Lauren Gustin’s career accolades are well documented as she has become the program’s all-time leading rebounder and holds the fourth-highest mark for career rebounds in the NCAA with 1,666 rebounds and counting. The senior earned her fourth all-conference honor this week as Gustin was named to the All-Big 12 First Team.

This season, Gustin leads the nation in total rebounds (493), rebounding average (15.4), defensive rebounds per game (10.3), double-doubles (30) and is 2nd in offensive rebounds per contest (5.1). Gustin also leads the Cougars in scoring at 17.0 points per game on 51.7 percent shooting from the field and minutes played at 36.8.

THE STARTING GUARD LINE IS CRUCIAL: BYU’s starting guard line is the silver bullet for the team’s success. As the guard line goes, the Cougars go. In BYU’s 16 wins this season, the starting guard line of Amari Whiting, Kailey Woolston and Kaylee Smiler combine for 34.4 points, 12.8 rebounds, 10.4 assists, 4.1 steals and 1.7 blocks.

In the 12 losses, the Cougar guard line’s stat line decreases in every category as the three combine for just 27.3 points (-7.1), 8.4 rebounds (-4.4), 9.5 assists (-0.9), 3.1 steals (-0.2), 1.4 blocks (-0.4).

THE MORE YOU SCORE, THE MORE YOU WIN: In 2022-23, BYU only scored more than 65 points in 15 of 33 games and garnered a 12-3 record when doing so. The Cougars have exceeded the 65-point threshold in 19 of 32 games this season and hold a 12-7 record when scoring 65 or more.

Head Coach – Amber Whiting

  • Alma Mater: BYU, 2001
  • Division I Career Record: 32-33 (2nd Season)
  • Record at BYU:  32-33 (2nd Season)

Santa Clara Broncos (24-8, 12-4 West Coast Conerence)

WCC RIVALRY RENEWED: The Cougars and Broncos met 25 times during BYU’s 12-year tenure in the West Coast Conference with the team from Provo earning a 23-2 record since 2012. In the Cougars' final run in the WCC last year, the two teams met twice, splitting the season series with the road team emerging victorious in both meetings. 

TOP-HEAVY BRONCOS: The Broncos average 70.6 points per game with 34.8 coming from two players, Tess Heal and Olivia Pollerd. 

Heal is the leading scorer for Santa Clara’s squad at 19.6 points per contest and has started in all 32 games this season. The sophomore guard shoots 47.7 percent from the field, 37.5 percent from three and 87.7 percent from the charity stripe where she has attempted the eighth most free throws in the country (212). Heal also leads the Broncos in assists per game at 3.94 while grabbing 3.8 rebounds and nearly a steal per game. 

Pollerd started 30-of-32 games for Santa Clara and is the second-leading scorer at 15.2 points per game on 46.7 percent shooting. The 6-foot-3 forward also shoots a team-high 44.9 percent from behind the loop and has made the seventh-most threes in the NCAA this season.

TOUGH AT THE CRIB: Santa Clara is a tough out at home as the Broncos boast a 12-1 record at the Leavey Center this season with their only home loss coming at the hands of the then-ranked No. 17 Gonzaga Bulldogs.

The Bronco defense has held opponents to 53.2 points per game at the Leavey Center on 35.8 percent shooting, however, their offense has been equally prolific at home. Santa Clara has scored 76.5 points per contest on 46.6 percent shooting while going 38.5 percent from downtown at home. In home contests, the Broncos average 17.7 assists, just 13.5 turnovers, 7.8 steals and 4.0 blocks. 

HOME AWAY FROM HOME?: California has a strong contingency of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the sponsoring institution of BYU). The Broncos average 342.5 fans per game over the past two seasons. When BYU played in Santa Clara during the WCC era, the attendance of BYU at Santa Clara games increased to an average of 405.4 fans (+62.9), many of which are clad in royal blue. 

Head Coach – Bill Carr

  • Alma Mater: USF
  • Division I Career Record: 118-124 (8th Season)
  • Record at Santa Clara: 118-124 (8th Season)

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