March 1, 2002

Women's Hoops Advances to WCC Championship Game

March 1, 2002

Box Score| Quotes| Notes

SAN DIEGO, Calif. - Senior guard Caroline Gruening hit a record eight three pointers to lead the Santa Clara University women's basketball team from an 18-point deficit to a three-point victory over Saint Mary's in a West Coast Conference Tournament semifinal, held tonight at the Jenny Craig Pavilion. She scored a career-high 34 points in the Broncos' 87-84 victory. Both marks set individual game records for both Santa Clara and the WCC Tournament.

Santa Clara is now 21-8 overall, while Saint Mary's moves to a 16-12 mark. The Broncos will play top-seeded Pepperdine, an 82-77 winner over San Francisco in the other league semifinal. That contest will be held on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. It will be shown on KRON-4 in the Bay Area.

Down 18 points with 5:25 remaining in the first half, the Broncos reduced the lead to five at intermission. At almost the same point in the second period, freshman Quinn Thomas ' only basket of the night, a three-pointer from the top of the key, gave Santa Clara its first lead of the game, at 76-75 with 5:26 left on the clock.

Saint Mary's had converted its first 11 free throw attempts of the game, but missed three straight opportunities from the charity stripe to tie the game at 76. The Gaels' forth did fall in, but SCU held its lead. SMC's Jerkisha Dosty fouled out with 2:31 remaining, but the Gaels were able to take the lead on their next possession. Bronco senior Becki Ashbaugh hit a three to return the advantage to SCU, but Saint Mary's would take the lead one more time. SCU's Kendra Rhea converted an offensive rebound for a three-point play to make it 85-84 in favor of the Broncos, the fifth and final lead change of the night. Fellow frontcourt teammate Julie Butler was fouled on the Broncos' next possession and made both her shots from the charity stripe for the final score.

The Broncos allowed 55 points to the Gaels in the first half, the most allowed to an opponent in at least the two years. Both teams shot over .500 in the period, with SMC taking a 56.3 to 52.8 percent advantage. It was the Gaels' 21-11 rebounding advantage that was the difference, creating many second-chance points.

Gruening went 7-8 from the land of plenty before halftime, but the Gaels were just as strong, building their 18-point lead behind Danielle Ferris and Katie Davis, who were each 3-3 from long distance to start the contest.

Saint Mary's opened a 6-0 lead, forcing Santa Clara head coach Chris Denker to call a time out early. Rhea had seven of Santa Clara's first 10 points as she took control in the paint. The Broncos then went on an 18-7 run to close out the half only down by five points.

Two straight unforced turnovers by SMC were converted by Gruening for a three-pointer and a running jumper to reduce the Gaels' lead to 10. After two points from the Gaels, a Gruening made three straight threes, including one at the halftime buzzer, to make it a five-point ball game.

After missing her first shot, Gruening then made her next 11 and scored all of her points in the game's first 30 minutes. She led three other Broncos in double-digit scoring. Rhea had 19, while Butler finished with 11 and Ashbaugh registered 10. Additionally, Ashbaugh's eight assists marked the sixth straight game she's registered at least eight dishes.

Ferris finished with 23 points to lead the Gaels, while Jermisha Dosty posted 19 points and a game-high 15 rebounds.