January 25, 2007

Santa Clara Rides Strong Second Half To Victory In Malibu

Jan. 25, 2007

Final Stats

MALIBU, Calif. - The Santa Clara women's hoops team overcame a slow start Thursday night on its way to a 69-60 victory over the Pepperdine Waves at Firestone Fieldhouse. The shooting of Chandice Cronk along with an aggressive team defense which forced 22 turnovers paced Santa Clara's second-half burst which sealed the victory.

The Broncos (12-9, 4-2 WCC) will go for the sweep of the weekend's action Saturday afternoon with a 2 p.m. contest against the Loyola Marymount Lions in Los Angeles.

"I actually liked our energy, especially on the defensive end, in the first half, but we just didn't play smart on the offensive end," said head coach Michelle Bento-Jackson. "We made some adjustments at halftime and I thought we did a much better job of running our sets and forcing Pepperdine to get out and defend us."

Cronk led the Broncos with 26 points on the night on 8-of-12 shooting, while Jen Gottschalk controlled things underneath with 10 rebounds to go with her nine points. Anna Martin scored 11 points and Ashley Gonnerman added nine.

Teena Wickett led all Waves with 18 points, and grabbed eight rebounds. Teiosha George posted a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds to help Pepperdine win the rebounding battle by a 41-27 margin. But the Wave defense could not hinder the Bronco shooters, as SCU shot 23-for-47 (48.9%) from the floor Thursday night.

Cronk's big second half pulled the Broncos offense out of its rut, as her 23 points in the final 20 minutes helped SCU pull away from the Waves. As a team, Santa Clara shot 14-of-25 (56.0%) in the second half to outdistance the Waves.

"I was so proud of Chandice tonight because she's really been working on doing new things out there and keeping her defenders guessing, and she did that tonight," Bento-Jackson said. "She shot pull-ups, got to the basket, and hit her threes. She really had a great balance to her game tonight."

After a pair of jumpers by Pepperdine's Sherriel Boyd evened the score at 36-36 with just over 10 and a half minutes to play, the Broncos responded with an 18-6 run over the next 6:30 to take the wind out of Pepperdine's sails. Following Gonnerman's layup to give SCU a two-point lead, Cronk scored the next nine Bronco points to give SCU a seven-point advantage, then hit the dagger with four minutes to play on an off-balance three from the corner just before the shot clock expired.

Santa Clara got off to a hot start against the Waves, jumping out to an 11-3 lead in the opening four minutes. But after a Gottschalk layup increased the lead back to eight at 15-7 with 12:11 left in the half, the Broncos fell victim to turnovers and cold shooting, scoring only eight more points the rest of the half.

Pepperdine, despite committing 14 turnovers and shooting only 30.8% in the first half, still managed to piece together a 12-4 run over the next eight minutes behind six points from Wickett to tie things up at 19-19 with 4:03 left in the first half.

Both teams battled sloppy play the rest of the half, combining for only seven more points as the Broncos, who committed 12 turnovers of their own in the half, took a 23-22 lead into the break.