Birthday Girl Wins it for the Broncos

Jan. 6, 2004

Box Score

SAN DIEGO, Calif. - Santa Clara University junior guard Quinn Thomas hit a baseline three with 18.3 seconds to give the Bronco women's basketball squad a 70-68 victory over San Diego State tonight at Cox Arena in San Diego. The victory ended a six-game losing streak for SCU and closed the non-conference season on a high note. The Broncos overcame an 18-point deficit to improve their record to 4-9 on the season.

The Aztecs were paced by Ashlee Dunlap's 19 points and 10 rebounds, but drop their third straight game to a West Coast Conference team this season and move to 4-8 on the year. San Diego State fell to Saint Mary's (Nov. 21, 52-47) and San Diego (Dec. 10, 65-60) earlier in its non-conference schedule.

Thomas finished with nine points on three second-half three-pointers to celebrate her 21st birthday. Senior Jennie Rondel led the Broncos with 16 points, while freshmen Ashley Graham and Ashley Gonnerman added 14 and 12 points respectively.

Thomas' three with 7:51 remaining gave Santa Clara its first lead of the second half, 60-59. After making only 3-13 from the charity strip Sunday against UT San Antonio, Santa Clara made 5-6 in a 35 second span and led 66-65 with 4:18 remaining.

Neither team scored again heading into the final minute of action. San Diego missed a shot with 50seconds remaining, but Michelle Strawberry earned a steal and a lay-in with 27 second left to give her team a 67-66 lead. Graham pushed the ball up the floor for the Broncos and found Anna Martin on the right win. Martin in turn passed to Thomas on the baseline for the game-winner.

A Bronco foul with 6.6 remaining gave San Diego State hope, and Michelle Elliott made her first shot of the one-and-one. After a time out, Elliott missed her second opportunity, forcing the Aztecs to foul SCU freshman Jenni Gottschalk on the rebound. The freshman forward made one of two free throws in the bonus for the final score.

"This victory is really nice, as it gives us confidence to know that we can win," Thomas said post-game. "I'm already on a natural high because it's my birthday and the extra adrenaline came in handy tonight."

Both teams started strong, with Gonnerman making her first three attempts to help SCU to an early lead. San Diego State recovered and broke a 16-16 tie with back-to-back threes from Elliott for a 22-16 advantage with eight minutes to go until halftime. Elliott and Dunlap had 13 points each for the Aztecs at intermission, as the home squad shot .586 from the field en route to a 39-27 lead at the half.

Second-action saw San Diego move up by 18, but a 10-3 Bronco run, capped by a Rondel three-point play, pulled the Broncos pull within 10, 55-45 with 11:36 remaining. Santa Clara followed with Graham's fourth three of the game, and two fast-break baskets by Rondel pulled Santa Clara within five, 57-52 with 9:32 on the clock.

The Broncos then made 5-6 from the charity stripe to keep the charge alive and finished the night 13-16 from the charity stripe, good for 81.3 percent.

Santa Clara travels to face San Francisco in the West Coast Conference opener for both teams on Saturday at War Memorial Gym. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.