Women’s team loses another tight game to conference opponent
THE SANTA CLARA
February 5, 2015
The Santa Clara squad suffered their second straight conference loss by 3 points or less, falling to Brigham Young University 58-56 last Saturday.
After being the victim of back-to-back heartbreaking games, the Broncos find themselves 7-13 overall and 2-9 in West Coast Conference play.
“Moving forward, we have to take what we can from this tough loss,” senior guard Nici Gilday said. “We need to learn that when shots aren’t falling, we need to not settle for jump shots and continue to get to the basket as well as the free throw line.”
BYU entered the game 8-2 in conference play, tied for second in the WCC behind the undefeated Gonzaga University Bulldogs.
The game started out even, with each team trying to figure out the other. But as the first half played its course, the Broncos streaked ahead to take the lead — a lead that the Broncos would maintain for the entire first half.
Santa Clara received contributions from all over in the first period of play to pull ahead.
Gilday led the team in scoring in the first half with 8 points, and seven other players contributed points as well.
Ball movement was key to their success as the Broncos had six assists in the first half, compared to the Cougars’ three. Santa Clara also outrebounded BYU 21-15 in the half.
With a 30-23 lead at halftime, Santa Clara clearly had the momentum going into the intermission.
The Broncos used that momentum to their advantage for the first nine minutes of the second half, maintaining a 5-point lead.
However, BYU’s talent began to show as the period went on. Cougar forward Lexi Eaton showed why she is the West Coast Conference’s leading scorer, amassing 9 points in the final nine minutes, to add to her impressive 27-point performance.
The Cougars tied the game with roughly five minutes left and didn’t look back.
Santa Clara simply couldn’t keep up with BYU’s scoring ability and ultimately fell behind late. The Broncos were outscored 35-26 in the second half, struggling to find points in the later stages of the contest.
Santa Clara shot a mere 18.8 percent after halftime, compared to BYU’s 34.8 percent.
“BYU did a good job of getting themselves to the free throw line, while we suffered a drought offensively that really switched the momentum back in their favor,” Gilday said.
Unlike the first half, where the Broncos spread the ball, the team only saw two of their players score over 2 points in the second half.
Gilday scored 14 points in the period, but was still limited to 3-14 shooting. She led the Broncos with 22 points.
“In the first half, we shot a much higher percentage,” Gilday said. “I thought we were a bit more aggressive in the first half, and when our jumpers weren’t falling as much in the second, we settled instead of getting to the rim.”
Gilday has remained a bright spot and is making the most of her senior year.
The guard is second in the WCC in scoring with 18.7 points per game, first in free throw percentage (.923) and seventh in 3-point percentage (.359).
Despite a late push by the Broncos to regain the lead, BYU held on to win the game with several late free throws.
With the loss, Santa Clara finds themselves at No. 6 in the WCC. According to Bertholdt, the team will try to focus on the “little things” moving forward.
“Working hard to improve our defensive intensity and communication in order to stimulate our offense and then just finishing out plays, crashing the boards and making free throws down the stretch will be very important as we continue to play good teams,” said Bertholdt.
The top five teams in the polarized WCC all have 8-3 conference records or better.
Optimistically, the Broncos played one of the top teams in the conference competitively.
Santa Clara will likely play BYU again, or a team of their caliber, in the WCC Tournament later on.
Santa Clara has a tough game on the road at Gonzaga, followed by a crucial match at University of Portland on Saturday.
Tip off for the Gonzaga game is set for 6 p.m. today.
Contact Nick Redfield at email@example.com or call (408) 554-4852.