January 29, 2011

Santa Clara Rallies for WCC Win, Beating LMU 77-73

Game highlights and interview with Lena Gipson

SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Santa Clara came back from 17 points down to beat LMU 77-73 Saturday afternoon at the Leavey Center.

Lena Gipson scored 19 points and pulled in 10 rebounds on a day she was honored in a pregame ceremony for reaching 1,000 points and 800 rebounds for her career.

The Broncos also received 14 points from Ricki Radanovich, while Alyssa Shoji and Ashley Armstrong each had 12. Santa Clara (7-14; 3-4 WCC) can even its conference record with a win next weekend against USF.

The Lions led by 12 in the second half, but the Broncos scored 13 straight to take a lead, 58-57, with 7:56 left. Meagan Fulps put SCU up for good with a tie-breaking three-pointer at the 3:42 mark and Shoji made all six of her free throws inside of a minute when LMU had to foul. 

"I am just really proud of this team's effort in the second half," said Santa Clara head coach Jennifer Mountain after the win. "We talked about it at halftime, needing to make defensive stops and we came out and picked up the defensive pressure."

Behind a game-high 33 points from Candice Nichols, LMU (10-11; 4-3 WCC) built up a 17-point advantage in the first half. The Lions forced nine SCU turnovers in the first 12 minutes and went in the locker room leading 40-28 at halftime.

The Lions were red hot from the field (15 of 27) to begin the game. Nichols and Renahy Young combined for 27 of the Lions' 40 first-half points. Young finished with 18 points and as a team LMU was able to generate 20 points off SCU turnovers in the first half alone.

However, Santa Clara stormed out of the locker room following the intermission, with Shoji and Radanovich making 3s as part of a 12-5 run, which got the Broncos right back into the game, 45-40.

Gipson gave Santa Clara its first lead since the opening moments, 58-57, with two of her five free throws. She finished the game 5 of 6 from the line and made 7 of 11 shots from the field.

"Nineteen of 22 from the free throw line tonight; that was a huge. I think our confidence level was there at the end of the game as well. Slowing the tempo down and doing it with confidence, along with making free throws," said Mountain about the team's strong finish.

With the game knotted at 64 inside of four minutes, Fulps broke the tie with a deep 3-pointer and her driving basket gave Santa Clara some late insurance at 71-66 with 1:01 to play.

Santa Clara's WCC rivalry game with USF next Saturday, February 5, is scheduled for a 2 p.m. tip at the Leavey Center.