MORAGA, Calif. – Playing its second straight West Coast Conference road game, Santa Clara came up short against Bay Area rival St. Mary's Thursday night at McKeon Pavilion, 72-52.
St. Mary's (16-6; 7-2 WCC) is enjoying one its best-ever seasons. The Gaels owned an RPI of No. 37 entering the week. All-WCC senior Jasmine Smith scored a game-high 20 points, University of Maryland transfer Jackie Nared had 18 and Danielle Mauldin had 11 points and 10 rebounds.
The Gaels used an 11-0 run late in the first half to break open a close game and lead by 12 at halftime.
Santa Clara (8-12; 1-6 WCC) senior guard Alyssa Shoji became the Broncos all-time leader in minutes played (3,608). Shoji scored 10 points for a Santa Clara team that went 9 for 31 from three-point range. The Broncos will host No. 23 BYU Saturday at 2 p.m.
"(St. Mary's) played pressure defense and did a number of things well," said Santa Clara head coach Jennifer Mountain. "On our end, we didn't shoot the ball well. BYU is a great ball club, they are nationally-ranked, so we will need to come out and play much better on Saturday."
Santa Clara made two quick 3s Thursday, with Shoji and Ashley Armstrong connecting on the Broncos first two possessions. But SMC would pick up the pace and generate a series of transition baskets to score the next 10 and establish a 10-6 lead in the early going.
Long-range baskets from Shoji and Tyler Woods kept SCU within striking distance, trimming a 10-point SMC lead down to six, 20-14, with 7:58 left in the first half. When Ricki Radanovich fed Lindsay Leo for an easy basket in the paint and Woods rolled in another 3, Santa Clara trailed by just three at 20-17.
Just when SCU threatened, the Gaels reeled off another run, keeping the Broncos scoreless for the next five minutes. A Smith trey from the left wing gave the home team a 15-point lead, 34-19, right before the halftime horn.
The Broncos showed some fight coming out of the locker room after halftime. Shoji found Arteivia Lilomaiava for a transition basket which made it 40-30 with 16:54 left.
St. Mary's would see its lead drop to nine following a Radanovich three-ball but used its 43-25 rebounding advantage to reestablish double-digit separation.
Another Santa Clara push included Meagan Fulps sprinting the floor to finish a fastbreak opportunity to make the score 53-42 with 7:45 remaining.
The decisive basket seemed to come at the 6:23 mark, when Nared launched – and made - a 22-foot three-point attempt as the shot clock expired to put the Gaels up 17.
GAME NOTES: Santa Clara wore their new all-black uniforms for the second time this year and first time since Dec. 3 at UC Irvine … Meagan Fulps, who scored 30 last season against SMC, was limited to five minutes of floor time in the first half due to foul trouble … SCU moves to 2-7 on the road; SMC is now 8-3 at home … Santa Clara's 31 three-point attempts ties for 7th-most in school history.