February 8, 2007

Offensive Explosion Carries Broncos To Big Win Over Pilots

Feb. 8, 2007

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SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Hot shooting from the Santa Clara women's basketball team Thursday night against the Portland Pilots was just the cure for the two-game slide the Broncos brought into the game. Four players scored in double figures and the Broncos as a team passed out a season-high 27 assists as they defeated the Pilots 90-73 at the Leavey Center.

The Broncos (13-11, 5-4 WCC) remain home to close out the weekend, hosting the first-place Gonzaga Bulldogs Saturday night in a scheduled 7 p.m. tip.

Santa Clara shot 49.2% from the floor Thursday night, and also went 15-of-34 in its three-point attempts to run away from the Pilots right from the start. Chandice Cronk led all players with 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting with six assists, while Jen Gottschalk and Anna Martin each scored 16 points and grabbed seven rebounds, and Ashley Graham added 10 points on top of her game-high eight assists.

"Our offensive effort was tremendous tonight," said head coach Michelle Bento-Jackson. "A lot of our assists came off of strong and aggressive penetration and drawing defenders in. I thought Ashley Graham's and Chandice Cronk's decision-making was exceptional tonight. They found the open players, and obviously when you do those things, you will get open looks."

There was no stopping the Broncos after the opening minutes. A 5-4 score in the opening 1:19 was left in the dust as SCU went on a 25-4 run over the next seven-plus minutes to put the Pilots on their heels and take control of the contest. Elizabeth Doran's three got the run started, and Cronk, Gottschalk, Graham, and Martin all subsequently drained threes of their own over the course of the run to give SCU a 33-8 lead only 8:23 into the game.

Santa Clara's lead got to as many as 29 points in the first half, when Ashley Gonnerman's jumper gave the Broncos a 46-17 advantage with 7:19 left in the first half. Portland, though, behind the efforts of Laura Thomas, who led the team with a double-double effort of 15 points and 11 rebounds, recouped some of the deficit by outscoring Santa Clara 18-7 the rest of the half to cut the Bronco lead to 53-35 at the half.

Cronk and Graham then scored the first 11 Bronco points in the second half bring the lead up to 25 at 64-39 in the opening four minutes. Portland got to within 14 twice, taking advantage of Bronco fouls to cash in at the free-throw line, cutting things down to 80-66 and then again at 85-71 with 4:44 left.

The Pilots never got any closer, though, as a three from Tracey Walker put out any smoldering hopes of a Portland comeback, and the Bronco defense locked down and preserved the win.