December 9, 2012

Women's Basketball Wins a Thriller at Long Beach State

LONG BEACH, Calif. – Playing a tough road game in the Pyramid, Santa Clara women's basketball took down Long Beach State by a final of 68-67 on a last second layup by Arteivia Lilomaiava who also made her first start of the season. The win puts the Broncos at 4-4 overall and drops the 49ers, fresh off a win over Arizona, to to 4-4.  Santa Clara is now 4-0 all-time vs. Long Beach State.

The Broncos return to the court in the Bay Area on Wed., Dec. 12 at 7 p.m. at San Jose State.

"It was a heads-up play," said Bronco head coach Jennifer Mountain about the game-winning bucket. "You have to go for the steal and that's what we were trying to do. With that much time on the clock you just have to get it and go. Ashley did a good job but missed the shot and Arteivia stayed with it and we were fortunate enough to put that one back in."

Meagan Fulps led Santa Clara with 18 points and seven rebounds. Ruta Zurauskyte scored 16 points and grabbed six rebounds while Nici Gilday was the third Bronco in double digits with 10 points.

Santa Clara shot 38.2% (26-68) from the field but just 1-18 from three. As a team the Broncos entered the game 18th in the nation, shooting 38.1% from beyond the arc and were second in the West Coast Conference with 6.9 threes made per game. The team went 15-23 from the free throw line while grabbing 41 rebounds and dishing out 11 assists.

Bianca Balthazar led the 49ers with 15 points while Alex Sanchez, the Long Beach State leading scorer, had eight points and grabbed four rebounds.

The game was back and forth in the first half with 11 lead changes through 14 minutes.

Jade Wilson got the scoring started with a layup just over two minutes into the game. The Broncos scored their first points on a pair of free throws by Zurauskyte seconds later and their first field goal came just before the 17 minute mark on a jumper by Fulps.

After falling behind 14-11 on a lay-up by Sigrid Skorpen at the 12:41 mark, the Broncos went on a 10-2 run over 3:33 to build their biggest lead of the half at 21-6. The run was built on a mix of good inside play and mid-range jumpers with Armstrong knocking down one of each.

After the game was tied at 24-24 with just over six minutes left in the half, Long Beach State took control of the game. Balthazar scored five consecutive points on two layups and a free throw for the 49ers to start a 16-6 run to end the half. Long Beach State led 40-30 at the half.

Santa Clara shot 32.4% (11-34) from the field in the first half but was 0-8 from beyond the arc. The Broncos were able to take advantage of free throws as they were 8-10 from the charity stripe. As a team Santa Clara grabbed 21 first half rebounds and had four assists to go with 10 turnovers. The 49ers shot 44.8% (13-29) from the field and 3-10 from three in the first half while going 11-15 from the free throw line. They had seven assists and 10 turnovers.

"Our defensive intensity changed in the second half," said Mountain. "If you take away the later part of the first half, that's a pretty good ball game for us. I thought our defense really did a great job for us in that second half. On offense we took care of the ball a little bit better and only had three turnovers. One of our points of emphasis was rebounding and we did a good job on the offensive glass. It gives us second and third chance points and slows people down in transition."

Zurauskyte knocked down a jumper to start the second half scoring and cut the 49er lead to single digits but the teams would exchange baskets with the Long Beach State lead staying between six and 10 points through the first nine and a half minutes of the second half.

After the scored moved to 51-42 49ers on a jumper by Devin Hudson with 13:53 left in the game, Santa Clara went on an 8-0 run to bring the score within one point at 51-50.

After a 30-second timeout by Long Beach State, Hudson knocked down another jumper but Fulps came down the floor and made a layup to keep the Bronco deficit at one.

Santa Clara retook the lead with just under nine minutes remaining on a fast break layup by Radonovich after she made a steal. The lead was extended after a defensive stop and Zurauskyte's 16th point of the day.

With seven minutes left in the game Mary Ochiltree nailed a jumper to tie the scored at 57-57 but it was sort-lived as Fulps nailed the Broncos first three-pointer of the game on the next trip down the court.

With 3:15 remaining, a three by Ochiltree and a layup by Jade Wilson evened the scored at 62-62. After hitting one of two free throws, the 49ers were on a 6-0 run to retake the lead at 63-62.

Fulps missed two free throws and Ella Clark knocked down a three pointer to put the 49ers up 66-63 with under two minutes left to go.

Long Beach State took a 67-63 lead on a free throw but Armstrong came down the floor and nailed a jump shot to cut the lead to two before Fulps made a steal to give the Broncos a chance to tie the game. Armstrong missed a jumper but got the offensive rebound and Santa Clara called a timeout to set up its offense.

A foul with 21 seconds left on the clock put Fulps at the line where she knocked down a free throw to cut the lead to 67-66 with eight seconds left.

Following a Long Beach State timeout, Armstrong stole the ball on a deep inbounds pass. She came down the court and missed a floater but Lilomaiava grabbed the offensive board and made a layup with 0.3 seconds remaining to give the Broncos the 68-67 win.