Fulps, Shoji Lead Santa Clara to Overtime Win at Cal Poly

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. – Meagan Fulps and Alyssa Shoji combined for 41 points helping Santa Clara win in overtime at Cal Poly Thursday night, 73-65.

Fulps scored 22 points and had a career-high eight rebounds for Santa Clara (3-10). Shoji scored 14 of her 19 points after halftime, including a pivotal three-point play in the extra session.

Trailing by two in the closing moments of regulation, Cal Poly (4-7) guard Desiray Johnson banked-in the tying basket with 19 seconds left.

Bronco freshman Ricki Radanovich scored the first points of overtime and baskets by Shoji and Lena Gipson assured the Broncos of the win, pulling ahead by seven with 29 seconds remaining on Gipson's mid-range jumper.

Gipson, who entered the week ranked eighth nationally in rebounding, finished with 13 points and 11 boards.

"I'm really proud of our effort, especially with them having a little momentum going into overtime," said Santa Clara head coach Jennifer Mountain. "We fought through and our defense and rebounding in overtime were the keys."
 
Cal Poly, who led at halftime 36-31, was held to just two points in overtime. Ashlee Burns led the Mustangs with 20 points and Rachel Clancy added 14. 

Santa Clara used a season-high 45 percent shooting effort to take a seven-point lead with 4:30 to play, 63-56. Shoji and Fulps each made three 3s and SCU was 9 of 20 as a team from long range.

"We are taking better shots and making better choices," said Mountain. "We really worked our inside-outside game nicely tonight. But again, it's our defense and it starts there, that is what we predicate ourselves on. That is where you win ball games."

Fulps carried Santa Clara in the early going, scoring 10 of the team's first 14 points. Then Shoji and Gipson contributed to make it a two-point game, 20-18, at the 5:45 mark. With 3:35 left before halftime Radanovich pulled-up and buried a transition 3 to put SCU up 26-25.

In the closing moments before intermission five points from Jonae Ervin and a long-range 3 from Burns pushed Cal Poly into the lead at the break 36-31.

It was Radanovich again making a 3 in transition to give Santa Clara its first lead of the second half, 39-38, and Shoji dropped-in a 3 on the Broncos next possession. SCU led by five, 49-44, with 12:45 to play.

Shoji made three or more 3s for the fifth time this season. The junior from Bellevue needs just two more to become the fifth player in school history to have made 150. Shoji's driving basket at the 10:30 mark made it 51-48 Santa Clara. Ashley Armstrong swished in a timely 3 with six minutes to play to keep SCU in front.

Cal Poly responded with an old-fashioned 3-point play by Abby Bloetscher, keeping things very tight, 63-59, with 3:25 remaining. Santa Clara came up empty on their next two possessions, allowing Cal Poly a chance to tie or take the lead with 1:20 left.

SCU had the ball and a two-point lead, 63-61, with 1:16 to play. A missed 3 by Shoji was rebounded by Gipson but a driving attempt by Radanovich rattled off.

Johnson scored off a set piece for Cal Poly to tie it in regulation, but the Mustangs were outscored 10-2 in OT.

"I thought we fought hard, staying mentally and physically tough, buckling-down defensively," said Fulps. "We got some big stops and made some big plays in overtime. This win means so much. It definitely gives us a lot of confidence, especially now going into a game Sunday that we can win. It's going to give us confidence going into conference as well."

Santa Clara will play city rival San Jose State Sunday afternoon at the Event Center in downtown San Jose. The team's West Coast Conference opener follows that, a date at USF next Saturday, January 8.