December 31, 2011

SCU Dominates First Half, But Pepperdine Rallies for 62-56 Win

SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Santa Clara led by 22 at the break, but Pepperdine responded with a big second half, winning 62-56 and spoiling the Broncos' West Coast Conference opener at the Leavey Center.

The Waves opened the second half on a 19-4 run, forcing the Broncos into 13 turnovers after the intermission. The guard combo of Lauren Bell, Jazmine Jackson and Katie Menton combined for 40 of Pepperdine's 49 second-half points. Bell finished with a game-high 18.   

Santa Clara (7-7; 0-1 WCC) led 35-13 at halftime, making 15 of 27 shots in the opening period. Alyssa Shoji scored all 12 of her points in the first half while Lindsay Leo led all Bronco scorers with 14 and added seven rebounds.

It was the WCC opener for a Santa Clara team that began the year 6-1 and was atop the league standings throughout the month of November. The Broncos will host Portland (Thursday, Jan. 5) and San Diego (Monday, Jan. 9).

Pepperdine (7-6; 2-0 WCC) was picked to finish third behind Gonzaga and BYU in the WCC preseason coaches poll. The Waves went 18-12 (9-5 WCC) last season and advanced into the WNIT.

Shoji scored 10 of Santa Clara's first 12 points and the Broncos opened up a 10-point lead, 14-4 midway through the first half. Santa Clara forced Pepperdine into seven turnovers and a 2 for 12 shooting clip through the first 13 minutes of play.

When Ashley Armstrong dropped in a baseline 3 the Bronco lead grew to 11 with 5:45 remaining, 21-8. On the other end, the Waves missed their first eight threes.

After a flurry of inside baskets from Leo, the Broncos pushed the lead to 17 at 30-13. Ricki Radanovich made a deep trey from the left wing just before Armstrong beat the halftime buzzer with a transition jumper to put SCU up by 22 at the break, 35-13.

Radanovich finished with 10 points and Armstrong had nine and seven rebounds.

However, Santa Clara went scoreless through the first 5:06 in the second half and went without a field goal until the 12:43 mark.

When Jackson made back-to-back baskets at 14:27 for Pepperdine and Menton connected on a 3 moments later, the Waves were within 9 at 36-27.

All the momentum had swung to Pepperdine. The Waves went 1 for 9 from three-point range in the first half but nailed 4 of 5 in the opening 9-plus minutes of the second half, with Menton fueling the run by making three consecutive attempts.

By the 9:06 mark the Bronco lead was just one, 42-41.

Clinging to a one-point lead with 3:22 left, Santa Clara allowed Bell to drive the lane, resulting in a pair of free throws that gave Pepperdine its first lead of the afternoon, 51-50.

The next time down the floor, Jackson's old fashioned three-point play off an offensive rebound made it a four-point spread in favor of Pepperdine at 2:44. Leading by three in the final moments, Shay Cooney-Williams sealed it for the Waves by rattling in a trey on the Waves final possession.

GAME NOTES: Alyssa Shoji pulled within four 3-pointers of tying the all-time Santa Clara record of 244 set by Chandice Cronk '08 ... Lindsay Leo scored in double-figures for the fifth consecutive game ... Pepperdine has now won seven-straight against Santa Clara.