Dec. 13, 2003
FRESNO, Calif. - The Santa Clara University women's basketball team fell for the first time this season on the road, 71-61 to Fresno State this evening in non-conference action at the Save Mart Center. Senior guard Whitney Sutak led the Broncos with 17 points but the team's record moves to 3-4 on the season. The Bulldogs were paced by Aritta Lane's 25 points-20 of which came in the second half-and improve to 4-3 on the year.
The Broncos have now lost three straight to Fresno State, and fall in the all-time series 18-13. SCU head coach Michelle Bento-Jackson is a 1992 graduate of Fresno State, and is left still looking for her first victory against her alma mater.
Guard Anna Martin, one of three freshmen to start for the Broncos, hit five three-pointers and finished with 15 points. The Bulldogs also saw 16 points from Veronica Mack and out-rebounded SCU 48-33, including 23 offensive boards.
Santa Clara opened an 8-1 lead in part to back-to-back threes from Martin, forcing FSU head coach Stacy Johnson-Klein to call a time out just two minutes into the game. Fresno State responded with a 15-2 run and held a comfortable lead for most of the half. The Broncos only scored two baskets in an eight-minute span-both by Sutak-but two more threes from Martin reduced the lead to 23-20 inside the five-minute mark.
Bulldog Paige Diggs scored her team's final six points of the period, and Fresno State held a 29-24 lead at intermission. Two key blocks by Bronco freshman Ashley Gonnerman in the first half's final two minutes kept the opponent's lead in check.
A three-point play converted by Lane pushed the home team's lead to seven, 38-31, three minutes into the second half. Mack hit a three from the win and Lane followed with another three-point play and a three-pointer at the top of the key to put the Bulldogs ahead 51-38 with 12 minutes remaining.
Eight turnovers hurt the Broncos midway through the second half, helping FSU extend its lead to 16, 56-40 with 8:36 remaining. Senior Jennie Rondel banked in a three-pointer from the top of the key, and converted on the four-point play to breathe some life into the Broncos. It worked, sparking an 11-2 SCU run. Sutak hit a three on the following possession. Rondel then stole the ball and dished to Sutak for another basket. Sutak scored on Santa Clara's next possession and reduced the lead to seven. The Broncos would get as close as six points, last at 4:28, 64-58 on a Quinn Thomas jumper, but could get no closer. Mack converted a three-point play at 2:29 to return the lead to double digits, 69-59.
Santa Clara played without starting guard Michelle Cozad, who was diagnosed with a left foot injury earlier this week. The junior leads the team by averaging 17.3 points per game, but is expected to miss 2-4 weeks.
Santa Clara returns home for a four-game homestand to close the calendar year. The Broncos will host three of those contests next week: Tuesday at 7 p.m. against No. 20 Oregon, Thursday at 7 p.m. against Oklahoma State, and Sunday at 2 p.m. against Bay Area rival San Jose State. After the holiday break, Santa Clara will host Alabama on Sunday, Dec. 29 at 2 p.m.