Nici Gilday drops 35 on West Coast Conference foe
THE SANTA CLARA
February 19, 2014
Women’s basketball kicked off President’s Day Weekend with a home contest against the University of San Francisco Dons that ended in a nail-biting victory.
Santa Clara traded streaks with USF throughout the competition, falling behind at times only to rally back within minutes.
Thanks to a loud section of fans, the Dons were unable to completely capitalize on free throws.
San Francisco missed 10 free throws in a game that was decided by one point in extra time.
Nici Gilday had one of her best performances to date. The senior guard scored 23 points in the first half, making up over half of the Broncos’ points.
She went on to total 35 points and grabbed four rebounds.
“We really got our energy together in the second half and made the adjustments that we needed to,” Gilday said. “Getting into our zone (defense) really sparked a run for us.”
The Broncos battled hard in the second half, crashing the boards and exploiting turnovers made by the Dons.
But that didn’t slow the team down.
“Both (Allen and Bertholdt) are such presences for us … but other people stepped up,” Gilday said. “I thought Morgan McGwire did an amazing job. She came in and was the difference maker for us.”
Freshman forward McGwire was a force down low, grabbing nine rebounds and scoring 10 points for the Broncos.
Her partner in the paint, freshman guard Taylor Berry, also did some damage inside the arc.
Berry stole the ball from a USF athlete with 30 seconds to go in the game, allowing the Broncos to call a timeout and draw up a play that ended in a tying basket by McGwire. Both McGwire and Berry elbowed their way to several defensive rebounds during overtime, and Berry managed to convert on a couple of open looks.
When all was said and done, Berry had added four rebounds and 12 points to her stat sheet, a big game for her first season as a Bronco. Berry credits the Broncos’ latest win against the University of Portland for putting her and the rest of the team in the right mindset.
“We got the win at Portland, but we didn’t feel like that was the best basketball for our ball club,” Berry said. “We had a week of practice (to prepare for USF) and we felt (USF was) another opportunity to showcase what we have.”
The full week of practice had a big impact on the Broncos’ performance on Saturday afternoon.
“Offensively, as a team, we kept it simple, like Coach (JR Payne) always says,” Berry said. “Defensively, we played good team basketball. That’s all we harped on this whole week: playing as one. And that’s what we came out and did.”
The Broncos continue with their second of three games at home against the Pepperdine University Waves, a team they beat earlier in the season.
In their first matchup, Santa Clara bested Pepperdine 65-54.
After scoring 35 and securing the win, Gilday is looking forward to Thursday’s game, saying the victory over USF gives the Broncos more confidence and excitement.
“Any time you can close out a close win, it’s big and you learn from it,” she said. “We’ve been on the other end of those close games, so finally being able to pull out a close one was big for us.”
The win puts the Broncos at No. 7 in the West Coast Conference and brings their record to 9-14 on the season.
Contact Claire McLoughlin at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (408) 554-4852.