December 29, 2003

Alabama Tops Women's Basketball by 12

Dec. 29, 2003

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SANTA CLARA, Calif. - The Santa Clara women's basketball team lost its fifth straight contest, falling to Alabama 77-65 this afternoon at the Leavey Center. Katie Sipe and Monique Bivins netted 16 points each to lead the Crimson Tide to an 8-3 season record. Santa Clara falls to 3-8 overall, 0-7 at home.

Bronco freshman Ashley Graham made six three-pointers in a game for the second time this season, and matched her career high of 20 points to lead Santa Clara. Senior Jennie Rondel added 14 points, while freshman Ashley Gonnerman led the team with eight rebounds.

Santa Clara took control of the afternoon early, opening an 18-8 lead with a trey by Rondel. Alabama reduced that deficit to one in less than two minutes, after Bivens netted back-to-back baskets, Kate Mastin came off the bench for a three, and Natasha Gamble converted a three-point play. However, the Broncos remained tough, and pushed their lead back to seven points, in part to a steal and lay-in by freshman Jenni Gottschalk. The Crimson Tide took its first lead of the contest just three minutes before the half, when Bivins recorded back-to-back field goals. With 1:10 left, Graham grabbed the lead again for the Broncos, with her fourth jumper from behind the arc, but Oreal Taylor's basket in the final minute of the period put Alabama ahead for the rest of the contest.

Alabama center Dee Merriweather was held scoreless in the first half, but netted 11 points in the second as she helped the Crimson Tide open a 6-0 run to start the frame. Santa Clara reduced its disadvantage to four, with 6:04 left on the clock on a lay-up by Rondel, but could get no closer. Alabama made all six of its free throw attempts in the final three minutes to secure the victory.

Santa Clara will return to action after the new year with two road contests to close the non-conference season. The Broncos will visit Texas-San Antonio on January 4 and San Diego State on January 6. Santa Clara will not have an attempt to earn its first home win until January 22 when it hosts San Francisco to open West Coast Conference action at the Leavey Center.