January 14, 2012

Santa Clara Women Edged By Pepperdine 67-57

MALIBU, Calif. – Pepperdine was able to hold off visiting Santa Clara 67-57 in a tightly contested West Coast Conference women's basketball game Saturday in Malibu.

Bronco true freshman Nici Gilday, the San Jose Mercury News 'Senior of the Year' last season at Presentation High School, matched a career-high with 15 points off the bench for Santa Clara (8-9; 1-3 WCC), who was limited in the paint due to early foul trouble.

Pepperdine (9-8; 4-2 WCC) took advantage by converting 12 second-chance points in the second half and making 25 of 30 free throws to change a game they trailed at the break 26-24. Senior classmates Lauren Bell and Jazmine Jackson combined for 30 points to pace the Waves. 

"We didn't establish an inside presence like we wanted to today, and needed to do to win on the road," said Santa Clara head coach Jennifer Mountain. "We have to get our confidence back and we can do that by getting the offense going."

Santa Clara's 57 points was well below its season-average of 71.6. Gilday made 6 of 8 shots and Leo was able to contribute with 10 points despite playing just 18 minutes and fouling out with 13:55 left.

Pepperdine did a nice job shutting down SCU star Alyssa Shoji, the nation's top 3-point shooter, who went 1 for 8 from long range.

Both teams began the game 3 of 11 shooting from the floor, with Santa Clara having to navigate a full court press put on by Pepperdine. A pair of early baskets from Gilday allowed SCU to stay right with the Waves through eight minutes, trailing 11-9.

Gilday finished the half with 11 points and two of her free throws gave Santa Clara its first lead 17-16 at the 6:14 mark of the first half. Meagan Fulps dropped in a deep 3 with 3:30 left before halftime to put the Broncos up 21-18.

Jackson, who had eight first-half points and 16 for the game, made a pull-up jumper just before the halftime horn to make the score 26-24 Santa Clara at the half.

The Waves picked up their offensive pace by making 6 of 9 shots to open the second half. The ensuing 14-6 run and 38-32 lead was capped off when Skye Barnett made good on a mid-range jumper.

Foul trouble limited Santa Clara's top rebounder Lindsay Leo to just 17 minutes. She picked up her fourth foul with 13:55 left and the Waves capitalized on the offensive glass, converting 12 second chance points in the second half.

Santa Clara benefited from 21 points off the bench, its most since the reserve corps provided 23 at Seattle on Dec. 13. Arteivia Lilomaiava was a big part of that bench production. Lilomaiava finished with six points and four rebounds, and her spinning post move with 10:52 remaining made it a five-point game, 46-41.

Pepperdine's lead was still five with 6:18 left when Bria Richardson scored and was fouled. The three-point play pushed the Waves ahead 55-47.

Trailing by eight and needing a basket at the 4-minute mark, the Broncos came up empty on four straight possessions, which included three missed free throws.

A back-door cut and lay in by Bell assured the home team of the win, putting the Waves up by 10 with 1:55 on the clock.

GAME NOTES:
SCU starters Lindsay Leo and Ashley Armstrong played just eight combined minutes in the first half due to foul trouble, allowing extended playing time for reserves Nici Gilday and Artievia Lilomaiava …  Alyssa Shoji led SCU with three assists to bring her career total to 299 … the Waves have now won eight straight games against the Broncos.

Photo above of SCU's Meagan Fulps ... PHOTO CREDIT: Martin A. Folb