February 23, 2006

Santa Clara Winning Streak Snapped At Nine In L.A.

Feb. 23, 2006

Final Stats

LOS ANGELES, Calif. - In a wild contest which saw multiple lead changes, bodies hitting the floor and huge swings in momentum, the Santa Clara women's basketball team had their nine-game winning streak snapped as they fell 89-74 to the Loyola Marymount Lions.

The loss creates a three-way tie atop the WCC standings as Santa Clara, Loyola Marymount and Gonzaga, 58-51 winners in San Diego Thursday night, all carry 10-3 conference marks into Saturday's final day of action.

It now all comes down to Saturday afternoon's contest at Pepperdine for Santa Clara to clinch a share of the West Coast Conference regular-season title and the WCC Tournament's No. 1 seed. With a win over the Waves, the Broncos will remain in the top position, and should LMU and/or Gonzaga win, SCU would hold the tiebreaker for the No. 1 seed having swept the season series with Pepperdine while the Lions and Bulldogs split theirs.

Kayla Huss led the Broncos with 22 points Thursday night, with 19 of those coming in the first half. She shot 8-of-12 from the floor including a perfect 4-of-4 from behind the arc. Kasey Monteith tied a career high with 16 points and also grabbed eight rebounds while Michelle Cozad added 11 points. Ashley Gonnerman also provided a solid effort off the bench, scoring 14 and grabbing five rebounds.

But the Broncos could not overcome the 19 points and 13 rebounds of LMU's Ashlee Dunlap and the 16 points, 12 rebounds from Valerie Ogoke as the Lions outrebounded the Broncos by a 48-38 margin.

At the opening tip things looked to be going LMU's way as they scored the game's first five points and were the team dictating much of the action. But behind a Monteith three-point play sandwiched between Huss jumpers, the Broncos reclaimed the momentum.

As both teams moved up and down the court at a feverish pace, the Broncos were able to extend their lead to 15-9 before the Lions cut things to two at 15-13 with 13 and a half minutes left in the half.

The teams traded the lead with just over ten minutes remaining as LMU went ahead 20-19 before Huss' three from behind the white NBA-distance stripe put SCU back in front by a pair.

From the point the advantage swung back and forth between the two teams twice more and was tied thrice. With just under six minutes remaining, SCU bought some breathing room at 33-28 following an Ashley Gonnerman hook in the paint and a free throw from Monteith.

Following an LMU basket, Huss again provided the dagger to the Lion faithful with another three. Two more defensive stops produced four more points from Gonnerman and just like that Santa Clara held an 11-point advantage at 40-29 with 3:17 left in the half.

As the half wound down Cozad gave the Broncos their largest advantage to that point as her three made it 45-33, but following another defensive stand, Huss hit another NBA-distance three at the buzzer to give SCU a 48-33 lead heading into the break.

The teams came out evenly-matched in the second half, as SCU's margin stayed in the double-digits thanks to another huge three from Huss and another basket inside from Gonnerman.

Amanda Patton got things to 57-49 with consecutive threes that forced Santa Clara to call timeout with 13:11 remaining. Patton's buckets were LMU's first two threes of the game after going 0-4 from behind the arc in the first half.

Chandice Cronk's clutch three-pointer about two and a half minutes later got the Bronco lead back up to nine at 62-53 after LMU had cut things to six.

Things continued to get wild as the two teams resumed their running ways, but the running favored the Lions as four-straight points from Amanda DeCoud cut the Bronco lead to two at 62-60 with just under nine minutes remaining. A pair of free throws from Valerie Ogoke knotted things up at 62-apiece the next time down the court for LMU. But a Monteith jumper put the Broncos in front by a pair moments later.

LMU took their first lead since early in the first half as an Ogoke jumper put the Lions ahead by one. Two more baskets extended the Lion lead to 69-64 in a matter of thirty seconds.

Despite a valiant effort from the Broncos, the comeback attempt fell short as LMU controlled the offensive rebounds in the final eight minutes and continued to keep SCU at bay.

Santa Clara now heads to Malibu for the all-important 2 p.m. contest Saturday afternoon at Firestone Fieldhouse.