Jan. 13, 2007
PORTLAND, Ore. - Still smarting from a heartbreaking overtime loss two nights ago, the Santa Clara women's basketball team took out its frustrations on the Portland Pilots Saturday afternoon, shooting and pounding their way to an 81-71 victory at the Chiles Center. Four Broncos scored in double figures to lead a balanced effort to victory.
The Broncos (10-8, 2-1) return home for their first homestand of the WCC season, hosting the San Diego Toreros Thursday, Jan. 18 at 7 p.m., and closing the weekend out with a 7 p.m. contest Saturday night, Jan. 20 opposite the San Francisco Dons.
Kasey Monteith matched her career high Saturday with 16 points and was a perfect 6-of-6 from the floor. Chandice Cronk bounced back with 16 points, Jen Gottschalk continued her outstanding weekend with 13 points and eight rebounds, and Ashley Graham rounded out the Broncos scoring in double figures with 11. As a team, Santa Clara went 31-for-56 from the floor (55.4%).
"Kasey and Jen were very sharp for us today, they gave us the scoring balance that we want from our inside players," Bento-Jackson said. "I thought that Kasey came in, was very intense and aggressive, and made very good decisions on the floor today. When she makes solid decisions, she puts herself in a good position to succeed."
A 17-2 run to open the second half blew Saturday's contest open, turning a 10-point SCU halftime lead into a 62-39 advantage. The Santa Clara defense made 12 thefts and forced 23 Portland turnovers on the day, and that performance helped fuel the second-half run as Portland was held scoreless for the first 4:33 of the half.
With Thursday night's overtime loss at Gonzaga still a fresh wound, the Broncos came out Saturday determined to keep Portland on the defensive for the entire 40 minutes. From Ashley Gonnerman's opening layup 13 seconds into the contest, Santa Clara took a lead that they would not relinquish the entire afternoon.
"It was very important for us to take that energy from Thursday night's game and channel it today in a positive way," Monteith said after the win. "We did a good job of putting the game behind us and focusing on getting the job done today."
Both teams shot well from the floor in the opening half, as the Broncos shot 58.6% and the Pilots 51.9%, but the SCU defense caused 14 Portland turnovers, which they converted into 12 points in transition in the opening 20 minutes.
Cronk, coming off of a season-low one-point performance at Gonzaga, hit a pair of jumpers and a three to open SCU's lead to 12-7 less than three minutes in, and another three with 10:11 left in the half capped her 12 first-half points and gave SCU a 25-17 lead.
Portland, after falling behind by nine at 30-21 at one point, pulled to within three after scoring six straight points, but Ashley and Tracey Walker combined for the next five points to put SCU up by eight at 35-27. The Broncos kept the pressure on the Pilots the rest of the half, and Yasemin Kimyacioglu's jumper with two seconds left sent SCU into the locker room with a 10-point halftime lead at 45-35.
Santa Clara's big run to start the second half essentially put the game away, as the 25-point lead was more than enough for SCU to hold. Monteith continued her solid play throughout the half, scoring seven points while fellow post Gottschalk added 11 second-half points. For the game, the Broncos scored 46 points in the paint to Portland's 26.