Jan. 8, 2006
PORTLAND, Ore. - In what turned out to be a wild, seesaw affair at the Chiles Center in Portland, the Santa Clara women's basketball team dug their way out of an early hole and buried a school-record 18 three-pointers to earn a thrilling 74-73 come-from-behind victory Sunday afternoon.
Ashley Graham scored a career-high 33 points (20 in the second half) on 12-of-16 shooting and dropped a school-record nine threes as well as the game-winning shot on the Pilots. Michelle Cozad posted her first career triple-double, scoring 13, pulling down 11 rebounds, dishing out 10 assists and coming up with a huge block on Portland's final possession. Kayla Huss also added 13 points as the Broncos overcame an early 18-point deficit to pull out the victory.
"I thought we showed a lot of growth and maturity tonight for that reason alone," head coach Michelle Bento-Jackson said about her team's comeback win. "We did have our backs against the wall, we didn't fold or lose our composure by any means. I thought we stayed focused and kept our heads in the ball game."
Things started off slow for Santa Clara once again Sunday, as Portland built a 29-13 lead with seven minutes left in the first half by making 13 of their first 21 attempts from the field. The Pilots' Allyson Sievers scored 14 of her 17 points in the first 20 minutes.
SCU shook off its early shooting woes in the final minutes of the half. Trailing 35-17 with 5:19 left in the half, Graham buried a trio of three-pointers to help spark a 20-4 run to close out the half. On the defensive end, the Broncos tightened up and held the Pilots to 1-for-8 shooting in that span and caused a pair of turnovers. With time running out, Graham snatched an offensive rebound and connected on a 12-footer to complete the first-half run and send Santa Clara into the locker room trailing only by two at 39-37.
The second half swung back-and-forth between the two teams, as the Pilots built a 47-37 lead before a Bronco run knotted the score at 50-apiece on the scoring of Cozad and Graham. Portland regained the lead but a pair of threes from Graham and another from Huss cut the deficit to one at 62-61. A Kasey Monteith lay-up following a Portland misfire gave Santa Clara their first lead since the score was 3-2 42 seconds into the game.
From that point, the teams exchanged the lead eight times in the final 8:05, with neither team leading by more than three points at any time. The final lead change came with 46 seconds left as Graham hit a runner in the lane for the eventual game-winner.
"Ashley Graham put on an unbelievable performance," Bento-Jackson noted on Graham's career day. "I don't know if I have seen, single-handedly, a performance quite like that before. She absolutely stepped up and was huge for us tonight. I also thought that in order for her to get those shots, we did a tremendous job of sharing the ball and making the extra passes to get her those shots."
The game reached its crescendo with 4.6 seconds remaining as Cozad emphatically denied a Rose Sauer three-point attempt on Portland's final possession. The Pilots retained possession, but could not get a shot off in the final four seconds on the ensuing play.