Women's Hoops' Comeback Falls Short in Loss to Pepperdine

Jan. 16, 2003

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SANTA CLARA, Calif. - The Santa Clara University's women's basketball team almost overcame a 19-point halftime deficit against Pepperdine this evening at the Leavey Center, but fell six points short in a 71-65 loss to the Waves in West Coast Conference action. Senior forward Julie Butler scored a career-high 23 points as the Broncos saw their five-game win streak come to an end. SCU is now 10-5 overall, 1-1 in league play. The Waves improve to a league best 11-5 overall, 3-0 in the WCC.

The loss marked only the third for the Broncos in home league action in the last five seasons. Butler scored 19 of her 23 points in the second half and led four Broncos in double-digit scoring, as senior Tammy Annas and sophomore Kayla Huss added 11 points each and sophomore Megan Nelson came off the bench to contribute 10 points. Senior Kendra Rhea led SCU defensively with 11 rebounds.

Tamara McDonald led the Waves with 17 points, while Nicole Funn posted 12 points and 11 rebounds for Pepperdine.

The Broncos dug a 19-point halftime deficit after getting into early foul trouble. With only one basket scored in the first three minutes of the contest, Santa Clara head coach Michelle Bento called an early time out. The Broncos couldn't catch up, as Pepperdine built a 10-point lead with nine minutes remaining in the period on a 15-foot jumper by Kelli Spencer.

The Waves stretched that lead to 15, at 31-16, with 6:45 remaining on a three-pointer by Keani Christianson. McDonald scored five points in the final two minutes of the half with a three, a steal and a lay-in, as Pepperdine outshot the Broncos 50 percent to 36 percent, and outrebounded Santa Clara by a 22-11 margin. The Broncos committed 14 turnovers as the Waves took a 41-22 lead into the locker rooms.

Santa Clara responded at the onset of the second half, forcing Pepperdine into two offensive fouls in the first minute of play. The Waves increased their lead to 21 before the Broncos started chipping away. Butler scored 19 of her 23 points in the second half, including a lay-up and a jumper to reduce the lead to 15 with 14 minutes remaining.

The Broncos remained hot, as a Nelson three-pointer, followed by a Huss steal to Butler for the lay-up reduced the lead to 12. Two free throws from Nelson made it a 10-point ballgame with 7:12 left on the clock.

The loud and supportive crowd saw the Broncos reduce the lead to five on a Butler lay-in, to make the score 65-60 with 1:23 remaining.

Funn scored on an inbound play, and with a Bronco turnover and a missed shot, Santa Clara forced Pepperdine to the free throw line. McDonald made three baskets from the charity strip in the final 30 seconds to push the lead back to 10.

The Broncos close a four-game homestand at the Leavey Center on Saturday, hosting Loyola Marymount at 7 p.m.