LAS VEGAS, Nev. – In its first game of the West Coast Conference Tournament, Santa Clara women's basketball fell to Portland by a final of 70-64 in a tightly contested game. The loss ends Santa Clara's season at 14-16 overall and puts Portland at 11-19.
"I'm really proud of the effort that we gave today," said Santa Clara head coach Jennifer Mountain. "Coming into today we had split two games with Portland and both of those games had come down to one or two possessions. Going in to today we knew it would be a battle and unfortunately we didn't make a couple plays when we needed to and they did. We're ending on a down note but I'm really proud and happy with where the program is at and where we're going."
Santa Clara shot 38.7 percent (24-62) from the floor and was 10-22 from three. In her final game as a Bronco, Meagan Fulps led all scorers with 19 points on 6-15 shooting and 4-10 from deep while adding six steals and five rebounds. Ricki Radanovich scored 17 on 6-11 shooting with five threes and five boards. Ruta Zurauskyte scored 15 on 6-17 shooting with a team-high six rebounds.
Portland shot 44.0 percent (22-50) and was 6-16 from deep. Kari Luttinen led the way with 17 points on 4-11 shooting and 4-6 from three. Jasmine Wooton added 16 points and six rebounds but committed 10 turnovers. Cassandra Thompson scored 14 on 5-7 shooting and had eight rebounds. Amy Pupa led all players with 10 rebounds while scoring eight points.
Fulps opened the scoring with a with a three from the top of the key on the first Bronco possession but Portland answered and the teams traded baskets through the first media timeout to tie put the score at 7-7.
The Pilots went on a 15-0 run over 3:36 to get out to a 24-11 lead. Luttinen hit two threes during the run to fuel the Portland offense. During the stretch Santa Clara was 0-9 from the field. The run ended when Fulps hit a three with 8:46 left in the first half to make the score 24-14.
Fulps cut the deficit to single-digits when she made a layup two possessions later but Wooton answered with a three-point play to put Portland up 11 with 6:51 left in the half.
The Broncos answered with a 7-0 run over 2:27 with five points from Radanovich to get within four with just over minutes left in the half. Thompson made a layup to end the run but on the next Santa Clara possession Radanovich nailed a three from the left corner to make the score 29-26 and force the Pilots to call a 30-second timeout.
After an offensive foul, Arteivia Lilomaiava grabbed an offensive board and put it back. Fulps made a steal and went coast to coast but was fouled on her layup attempt. Fulps knocked down both free throws to put Santa Clara back on top 30-29. Another Bronco steal led to a layup by Katie Hawkins to put Santa Clara on a 9-0 run over a minute but Wooton made a layup to end the run at 1:44.
Alexis Byrd made a layup with 33 seconds remaining in the opening half to put Portland up 33-23. Wooton was fouled after making a steal and went to the line for a one-and-one. She knocked down both free throws to put the score at 35-32 Pilots at halftime. Portland ended the first half on a 6-0 run over 1:44.
Santa Clara shot 41.9 percent (13-31) from the field in the first half and 4-7 from beyond the arc. Fulps led the way with a game-high 12 points while going 2-3 from downtown. Radanovich added eight points on 3-4 shooting and 2-3 from deep. Avila and Hawkins added two assists each while Avila and Gilday had two rebounds apiece.
Portland shot 48.0 percent (12-25) from the floor in the first half and was 4-7 from three. Wooton led Portland with 12 points on 3-4 shooting and a perfect 5-5 from the charity stripe while grabbing three rebounds and dishing out two assists. Thompson scored seven points on 3-3 shooting with three boards while Byrd the led the team with five first half rebounds and scored two points on 1-6 shooting.
The Broncos scored the first three points of the second half to tie the game at 35-35. Portland went back on top with when Thompson stepped to the line and knocked down a pair of free throws. Byrd followed with two more free throws to put Portland back on top by four with 17:29 remaining. Radanovich answered with a three on a fast break to make it a one-point game.
The fourth three of the game by Radanovich at the 9:59 mark cut the Bronco deficit to one at 51-50. After Portland missed the front end of a one-and-one, Zurauskyte made a layup when her defender fell down to give the Broncos a one-point lead but the Pilots answered with a layup by Byrd at the other end. Zurauskyte went to the line on the next Santa Clara possession and swished two to make it 54-53 with eight minutes remaining in regulation.
With 6:05 remaining, Wooton made a jumper to put Portland up five but Avila made a three on the ensuing possession to get within two. Thompson answered with a tip-in to make it a four-point game.
Fulps hit a step-back three, her fourth of the game, with 3:22 remaining to get the Broncos back within one at 61-60. Fulps was then fouled on a defensive rebound and went to the line for a one-and-one. She knocked down the front end to tie the game and missed the second.
Luttinen hit a three to put the Pilots up three but Radanovich answered with her fifth of the game to even the score with 1:26 left.
Wooton cut into the lane and hit a layup to make it 66-64 in favor of Portland. Luttinen went to the line with 30 seconds remaining and knocked down two free throws to make it a four-point game. Radanovich missed a three and Portland gained possession under the Santa Clara basket.
The Pilots went on a 6-0 run on free throws to take a 70-64 lead and were able to hold on to win 70-64 and move on to the next round.