Women's Hoops Falls To Fresno State In WNIT First Round

March 21, 2003

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SANTA CLARA, Calif. - The Santa Clara University women's basketball team fell to Fresno State 87-72 in the first round of the Women's National Invitation Tournament, hosted by the Bulldogs tonight at the North Gym. The Broncos were led by Kim Butler's 16 points, and close out their season with a 20-11 mark.

Santa Clara was making its third WNIT appearance in the last four seasons, but bowed out in the first round for the third consecutive time. Fresno State improves to 20-12 in front of a sell-out crowd of 1,401.

Fresno State made 13 three pointers-eight in the second half-marking the most the Broncos have allowed this season since a Dec. 15 victory against Oregon. Laura Garcia led the Bulldogs with 21 points, including five treys. Five other Fresno State players scored in double figures. FSU outrebounded Santa Clara 62-33, including 19 from Omelogo Udeze.

The Broncos, who have now reached the postseason six consecutive years, only had seven players suited up, but also saw 14 points from Tammy Annas and 12 from Quinn Thomas.

Santa Clara opened with two quick baskets, forcing FSU head coach Stacy Johnson-Klein to call a time out in the first minute of the game. The Bulldogs-perhaps nervous because they were playing in the post-season for the first time in 13 years-missed their first four shots from the field. They turned it around quickly though, scoring seven straight and forcing four Bronco turnovers. FSU went on to make six straight field goals, but Santa Clara kept up and held a 17-16 lead with 12 minutes remaining in the half.

Annas hit her third baseline three of the game to build a 27-20 lead for the Broncos, again forcing Johnson-Klein to call a time-out at 8:37. The Bulldogs found a groove, and went on a 21-3 run to move ahead 41-27 heading into the final minute of the half. Santa Clara went almost seven minutes without a field goal and scored all three of their points during that run from the charity stripe, as Udeze scored seven points during that stretch and finished with 11 at the half.

A three by Jennifer Bradley reduce the lead to eight with 20 seconds before intermission, but a Laura Garcia reverse lay-up at the buzzer pushed the Bulldogs' lead to 10 as both teams headed to the lockerroom with the scoreboard showing a 45-35 game.

Santa Clara came roaring back in the second half, opening the period with a 23-5 run, holding Fresno State without a field goal for five minutes, until a three-pointer made by Garcia reduced the Broncos' lead 58-53 with 11:34 remaining. In this game of streaks, it was the Bulldogs' turn, and they scored eight straight behind threes from Garcia and Logan, and moved ahead 61-53 with 10 minutes remaining.

With seven minutes left in the contest, FSU was ahead 70-62 and didn't look back.

The game featured Santa Clara's head coach Michelle Bento, a 1992 graduate of Fresno State, who as a player, led the Bulldogs to their last post-season, appearance in the WNIT in 1990. Santa Clara won the WNIT in its first appearance back in 1991, defeating Indiana in the championship game. The Broncos are now 3-3 all-time at the Tournament, falling to Southern California in the first round of the 2000 draw and to Hawaii in 2001.

Fresno State leads the all-time series against the Broncos 17-13, including a victory over Santa Clara earlier this season.