March 8, 2008

Broncos Drop Hard-Fought Semifinal Battle To USD 72-66

March 8, 2008

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SAN DIEGO, Calif. - The Santa Clara women's basketball faced a hard-fought 72-66 loss to San Diego in the semifinals of the West Coast Conference Championships Saturday afternoon at the Jenny Craig Pavilion. The Toreros move on to the championship game and will face the winner of the Gonzaga/Saint Mary's semifinal game.

Despite the loss, senior Tracey Walker scored her 1,000th career point early on in the contest. She became the 18th Bronco to reach that feat and the second this season as teammate Chandice Cronk joined the club on Nov. 13 against Washington State. Walker led all players with 25 points and now has a tally of 1,016. Senior Jen Gottschalk compiled a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds, while Sara Majors and Elizabeth Doran joined forces for 22 points.

Walker gave SCU a 3-1 lead in the opening minutes of the first half with a three-pointer. The Toreros did tie the score twice but the Broncos regained the advantage on a trey by Doran. She made another three-pointer with 15:29 to play to give Santa Clara a 13-9 lead. Yet, San Diego kept the score close coming within one point on four occasions before taking the lead, 22-21, on a jumper from Kiva Herman with 10:09 to play.

USD then went on a 10-0 run on points from Herman, Amanda Rego and Amber Sprague to make the score 28-21. Gottschalk interrupted the Toreros run with a trey with 5:55 to play. USD grabbed a 10-point lead, 33-23, on a three-pointer from Sam Child, but SCU responded with three points of their own from Walker, with 4:59 left. The three-point goal pushed Walker over 1,000 career points. However, USD held control going into halftime. Majors compiled seven points for Santa Clara in the final two minutes of the game. She gave the Broncos the final basket of the half as she slid past Sprague for a layup with :37 left. The score at halftime was 41-33.

Santa Clara opened the second half with a nine-point run on solid efforts from Majors, Doran and Walker. A deuce by Gottschalk with 17:32 to play brought the Broncos within one point, 43-42. Yet, the Toreros continued to hold the lead and pushed to a 54-44 score on a layup by Sprague. The two teams proceeded to trade baskets with San Diego holding onto the lead.

After three minutes of scoreless action, Walker hit a three-pointer to bring the Broncos within three-points, 59-56, with 6:11 to play. Walker struck again less than a minute later to tie the score with her fourth trey of the game, 59-59. Gottschalk then gave SCU a two-point lead, 61-59, with an under the basket layup, with 4:28 remaining. A shot clock buzzer trey from Walker put the Broncos up 64-61 and Gottschalk helped keep the lead alive with a layup, 66-63. However, the Toreros rallied back to take a three-point lead with less than :30 to play, 69-66. Free shots made by Herman gave San Diego the 72-66 win.

The Broncos await their postseason fate as brackets for both the NCAA and WNIT tournaments will be announced on Monday, March 17.