November 20, 2006

Santa Clara Women Battle Way To Road Victory

Nov. 20, 2006

Final Stats |  Quotes

BOISE, Idaho - The Santa Clara women's basketball team pulled out a Monday Night thriller at the Taco Bell Arena in Boise not with a game-ending three-pointer or jumper, but with relentless grit on the boards and a defensive tenacity in the end that sealed a 67-65 victory over the Boise State Broncos. The combined effort underneath from Jen Gottschalk and Kasey Monteith made the difference as the SCU Broncos improved to 3-1 for the first time since 2001-02.

Santa Clara (3-1) returns to action Wednesday afternoon with a 3:30 p.m. Pacific contest at No. 18 BYU to close the trip. Boise State was dealt its first loss of the season and drops to 2-1 on the year.

Gottschalk led the Broncos with her first career double-double as she scored 17 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, both career-highs, to help SCU win the battle on the boards for the first time all season by a 46-42 tally. Kasey Monteith, playing in front of friends and family in her hometown, grabbed a career-high 12 rebounds and added seven points to the effort. Tracey Walker scored 12 points and made the final lay-up, while Chandice Cronk added 11 points.

"Our play underneath was huge for us, and Jen and Kasey did a great job on the boards, but I will say that all of our post players contributed in a lot of different ways," head coach Michelle Bento-Jackson said of the play of the Bronco frontcourt. "We knew we had to come in here and control the defensive boards, and we did a good job of that."

The teams battled through a first half in which Santa Clara changed course from its usual three-point shooting and pounded the boards, outrebounding Boise State by a 25-19 margin. SCU only attempted seven threes in the opening half, nailing three, and it was the midrange jumpers of Cronk and Walker, as well as the inside play of Gottschalk and Monteith that carried SCU to the first-half advantage.

"Jen is just a scrappy, rugged player and she has a very good feel for the game," Bento-Jackson said of the junior forward, who returned to the team after two years away. "She's always full of energy and has been a tremendous addition to our program this year."

Santa Clara led by five at 33-28 with two minutes to go in the half, the largest lead held by either team through the first 20 minutes. Boise State, trailing 16-12 with 13 minutes to play, got a 10-3 run as five different players made buckets to give BSU a 22-19 lead. But SCU stormed right back as freshman Brittany Purvis drained her first career three and Claire Goins added consecutive lay-ups to spark a 14-6 stretch that put Santa Clara back in control heading into the locker room.

The SCU advantage was extended to eight within the first three minutes of the second half as an Ashley Gonnerman three and consecutive lay-ups from Gottschalk got SCU off to a hot start and 42-34 lead. Things slowed down from this point, as Boise State worked its way back up, pulling to within two on multiple occasions.

One of those occasions came with just under three minutes to play, as after SCU had gotten their lead back to eight at 65-57, turnovers and bad shot selection allowed Boise State to capitalize and at the 2:21 mark tie the game at 65-apiece for the first time since the 26-26 mark in the first half.

Walker's driving lay-up put SCU back in front by a pair with a minute and a half to play, but neither team was able to capitalize on their ensuing possessions. Boise State missed the front end of two one-and-one opportunities, and on the second, forward Michelle Hessing grabbed the offensive board to give BSU a chance at the final shot.

But the Broncos defense stepped up and prevailed, as Gottschalk batted away a pass inside and Anna Martin grabbed the loose ball with 9.8 seconds left, forcing BSU to foul.

Yet Walker returned the favor by missing the front end of her one-and-one, and Boise State rebounded to have one final opportunity with 2.8 seconds remaining. Yet once again, Gottschalk's defense came to the rescue, as she blocked Tasha Harris' desperation three-point attempt as time expired.