THE SANTA CLARA
February 27, 2014
Broncos finish regular season road schedule with upset victory
For the first time since 2009, the Santa Clara women’s basketball team came away victorious against its conference adversary from Saint Mary’s College.
After rallying from an early deficit, the Broncos eventually pulled away from the Gaels in the second half, connected on free throws in the closing moments and left the McKeon Pavilion with an 89-83 upset.
“Being on the road is always difficult,” said Santa Clara Head Coach Jennifer Mountain. “I thought we made big plays, big shots and just remained composed the entire time.”
Throughout the first half, Saint Mary’s stayed out in front, increasing its lead to as many as eight points. Despite trailing, the Broncos remained within striking distance.
“(The players) didn’t get themselves flustered,” said Mountain. “They stayed with the game plan.”
With 54 seconds left in the first 20 minutes of play, senior Ricki Radanovich buried a 3-pointer to put Santa Clara on top for the first time all afternoon. After the Gaels responded with a layup on their next possession, Santa Clara senior Arteivia Lilomaiava answered with her second field goal of the contest to give the Broncos a one-point lead at halftime, 40-39.
After the break, both squads went back and forth during the opening minutes of the half. With the game tied at 52 with just over 15 minutes left to play, Santa Clara junior guard Nici Gilday drilled a shot from downtown and the Broncos never looked back.
Santa Clara pushed its lead to as many as 10 points during the remaining minutes and were able to keep the Gaels’ comeback attempt at bay.
“We made good decisions down the stretch, especially when we needed to,” said freshman Montana Walters.
The guard led the charge for the Broncos, finishing with a team-high 26 points and seven assists.
“I honestly didn’t even notice that I scored 26 (points) until the end of the game,” said Walters.
The freshman was more pleased with the squad’s victory and being able to celebrate with her teammates after the upset victory.
As a team, the Broncos shot 48.3 percent from the floor and 60 percent from deep. Four Broncos scored in double figures.
Santa Clara will wrap up its regular season slate of games at home this weekend against Loyola Marymount University tonight and Pepperdine University on Saturday.
“I’m looking forward to playing hard for the seniors and just getting two wins — big wins that we need to get a good spot in the tournament,” said Walters.
Local conference rival spoils Santa Clara Senior Day with lopsided win
Competing on their home court for the final time this season, the Broncos fell to the Gaels from Saint Mary’s College, 76-54, in a matinée match on Saturday.
In the 216th all-time meeting between the schools, Saint Mary’s went on a double-digit scoring run during the first half of play to hinder the Broncos’ chances of winning on Senior Day.
“Credit to (Saint Mary’s) for playing well and putting us in that position to not have a chance to get it done,” said Santa Clara Head Coach Kerry Keating.
For four members of Santa Clara’s squad, Saturday’s game was the last time they suited up to play in front of their home fans. Before tipoff, seniors Evan Roquemore, John McArthur, Jerry Brown and redshirt junior Julian Clarke were all recognized for their dedication to the men’s basketball program.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t get a win but just to have that last chance to be out there, that last go-around, and have family and friends and teammates and coaches all there to be supportive was wonderful,” said Clarke.
Clarke will forgo his final year of eligibility next season to pursue a career in the medical field after graduating in the spring.
The redshirt junior, along with the three other honorees, combined to score the first 10 points for the Broncos, aiding in Santa Clara’s early one-point advantage at the 16:07 mark in the first half. However, Santa Clara shooters went cold from the field and suffered a lengthy 10-minute drought without a bucket.
In the meantime, the Gaels went on their offensive barrage, scoring 24 unanswered points. Saint Mary’s guard Stephen Holt lit it up from the field and beyond the arc in the first 20 minutes of play, shooting 8-for-9 from the floor and netting 21 points. Going into the locker room, the Gaels held a commanding 43-23 lead.
“We let our inability to play a little bit harder on offense carry into our defensive effort and it kind of snowballed from there,” said Keating.
After the break, the Gaels’ scorers stayed hot, leading to their eventual 22-point victory. Holt continued his offensive outburst and finished with a career-high 35 points.
Despite the defeat, McArthur has enjoyed his four years as a Bronco.
“It’s been a great ride,” he said. “Obviously, we didn’t get the outcome we wanted, but I still have a lot of memories here and it was great to go out with all the people who supported me over these years to be here.”
Santa Clara will finish its final two regular season contests beginning tonight with a visit to Loyola Marymount University and a trip to Pepperdine University two days later.
Contact Brendan Weber at email@example.com or call (408) 554-4852.