SCU Women Cruise Past Banana Slugs in Exhibition Opener

Nici Gilday ( Photo)
Nici Gilday ( Photo)

SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Santa Clara built up a 27-point lead midway through the first half and never looked back, dropping UC Santa Cruz 90-52 in its first exhibition game of the 2012-13 basketball season.

The Broncos were terrific right from the start, going 4 for 8 from 3-point range and shooting 52 percent from the floor in the first half. When 6-foot-4 junior center Ruta Zurauskyte dropped in two of her 12 points, Santa Clara led 35-12 with 10:49 left before the intermission.

"I thought our players came out and really set the tone defensively," said Santa Clara head coach Jennifer Mountain. "Defense has been a point of emphasis for us, that's what we want to do. We also shared the ball well, made the extra pass and really got off to a good start shooting the basketball."

Nici Gilday (pictured) finished the night with five steals, five assists and 12 points on 5 of 9 shooting from the field for SCU. Ashley Armstrong made 4 of 7 shots and scored 10, while Lindsay Leo added nine points and seven rebounds.

"We were ready and engergized," said Gilday, a sophomore starter from San Jose's Presentation High School. "We wanted to get out in passing lanes and play pressure defense. I thought we did a good job taking our game to them, especially on the defensive end."

Santa Clara used all 15 of its available players and debuted four youngsters, freshmen Katie Hawkins, Brooke Gallaway, Courtney Lisowski and redshirt freshman Vanessa Leo.

"Our depth came in and did not let us drop," added Mountain. "That was something else we wanted to do tonight, use eight or nine people we would use in a regular rotation in that first half. I was really pleased. In the second half, we tried to get other people some experience that haven't had that chance. We can do a better job on the boards, but for the most part I was really happy with our start tonight."

UC Santa Cruz - the only NCAA Division III athletic program in the UC System –  managed an 18-6 run in the later stages of the first half to get within 15, 39-24, at the 6:16 mark. Leah Parrish paced UCSC in scoring with 13 and Sarah Mackey added 10.

However the SCU lead ballooned back to 26 by halftime, 52-26. Ricki Radanovich connected on a pair of 3s and had four steals in the opening 20 minutes, while Leo had all seven of her rebounds in the opening half.

The Broncos will host one more exhibition, this Sunday November 4 at 2 p.m. against Sonoma State before the season officially begins Friday, November 9 at home against UC Irvine.