SAN JOSE, Calif. – Santa Clara turned up its defensive pressure in the second half, using a 9-0 run to pull ahead of San Jose State and defeat the Spartans 44-37 in the annual city rivalry match up between the two South Bay schools.
In a low-scoring game that saw the teams combine to shoot 28 percent (30 for 104) from the floor and with SCU trailing by four in the second half, 35-31, Bronco head coach Jennifer Mountain directed her team to press.
The decisive run ensued. Ricki Radanovich and Alyssa Shoji made 3s and Telisha Anderson's drive changed the game, putting the Broncos in front 40-35 with 6:54 left. Radanovich finished with 19 points to lead all scorers.
The press continued until the final horn. Santa Clara (4-10) never relinquished the lead, holding San Jose State (0-13) scoreless for the final six minutes.
"Our pressure picked up and caused turnovers, that's where I think we won the game, in the later part of the second half," said Mountain. "We never stopped fighting, which was good. But we have to have a better effort than we did tonight, we didn't shoot the ball very well."
SCU made just 1 of 10 shots to begin the game, missed its first five 3-point attempts and trailed 12-2 out of the gate.
The Spartans outrebounded the Broncos 13-6 in the opening ten minutes and with 8:40 left before halftime, A.J. Newton knocked-down a 3 to put SJSU up 17-6. Newton had 13 of her team-high 18 points in the first half.
Radanovich made three consecutive jumpers, including 3s from each baseline to shake Santa Clara out of its early game funk. Radanovich exceeded her season scoring average of 7.1 in the first half alone. The rookie starter from Diablo, California had 13 of Santa Clara's first 17 points. Her 19 points and four 3s were both season-highs.
"In the first half we were really struggling to put the ball in the basket," said Radanovich. "I don't think we came out ready to play and with the intensity we needed to shut them out. I was fortunate enough to make a few shots and get us back in the game a little bit."
One of Shoji's career-high six assists set up Kathy Willinsky for an easy basket in the closing moments before halftime, cutting SJSU's lead down to 25-23 at the break.
Similar to the shooting struggles SCU had in the first 10 minutes of the game, SCU went 1 for 8 from the floor after the intermission.
Santa Clara's first lead, 29-28, came with 13:30 left on a long 3 from Radanovich.
San Jose State countered with a 7-2 run to lead 35-31 with 9:48 to play, bookended by a lay up from Liz Johnson. Then, SJSU would manage just two points over the final 9:48. In fact, only one of the Spartan's final 16 possessions resulted in points.
"We have momentum going into conference, we've won four out of our last six," said Mountain. "We have to get ready to play San Francisco next Saturday at their place. We are doing some things better, we are taking better shots; I really don't think today was an indication of where we are at."
GAME NOTES: A recent injury to SJSU leading-scorer Brittany Johnson left the Spartans with just seven available players Sunday … it was the 42nd meeting between the two local schools, SCU leads 23-19 … the Broncos have won 4 of 6 and two straight … NEXT UP: Santa Clara will play its WCC opener on Saturday, Jan. 8 at USF.