Santa Clara Women Edged by Cal State Northridge, 70-67

Ricki Radanovich ( Photo)
Ricki Radanovich ( Photo)

Senior Guard Telisha Anderson Featured by EYEBRONCO
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By, Kimberly Veale

Bay Area product Ricki Radanovich (Carondelet HS) sparked
a late comeback and Nici Gilday (Presentation HS) nearly tied it at the buzzer but Santa Clara (3-4) fell just short as Cal State Northridge (4-2) pulled out a 70-67 victory over the Broncos Thursday night at the Leavey Center.

Radanovich exploded for Santa Clara in the closing minutes, scoring nine of her 12 points during a 14-2 run, cutting the Matadors' lead to 65-63 with 1:12 left.

"We were down a lot with five minutes to go," said Radanovich, the junior shooting guard from nearby Carondelet High School. "We knew it was now or never, but really it all came from (our) defense. We went into a trapping zone and tried to get in the passing lanes to force steals and our offense came from that."

Tied at 48 apiece midway through the second half, the Matadors used a 15-1 surge to
take a commanding 60-49 lead with 5:31 to play. Ashlee Guay knocked down a clutch three-ball with 51 seconds left and Marta Masoni finished with 20 points for CSUN.

All-league senior guard Meagan Fulps led the Broncos with a game-high 23 points. Raquel Avila chipped in a career-high seven and dished out five assists for SCU. Ruta Zurauskyte added eight points in the post. 

"Northridge is a really good team," said Fulps. "They are picked to win their conference. We didn't play the way we needed to play today. We got after it at the end, but we should have been doing that the whole game."

In a first half riddled with a combined 26 turnovers, both teams battled early for the lead. Down 8-3, Fulps, a native of Littleton, Colo., made her presence felt in a large way for the Broncos, pouring in 11 points in the first ten minutes while coming up with a momentum-changing blocked shot on a CSUN breakaway. 

Fulps shot a career-best 5 of 5 from behind the arc Thursday night. Santa Clara ended the half strong, using a fast break layup from sophomore point guard Raquel Avila with seven seconds left on the clock to go up 32-31 at halftime.

Avila started the second half for the Broncos, and led Santa Clara with a career-high five assists.  Radanovich recognized her play, saying, "Rocky was awesome tonight. She came off the bench with confidence. To come in with the poise she had was huge and she was able to continue getting us in what we needed to do (offensively)."

The Matadors were coming off an 85-73 loss to No. 6 Penn State - a game they led at the half. CSUN's shooting from beyond the arc heated up in the second half, as they drained a quick 2 of 3 from distance to take a 41-39 lead with 16:47 left in the contest. They finished at 62 percent from long range, connecting on 10 of 16 attempts.

Prior to tonight, Cal State Northridge held their first five opponents, including Penn State, to under 29 perecent shooting, which ranked No. 7 nationally.  The Broncos brought that streak to a screeching halt, making 13 of 30 shots before the break, and finishing with a 44 percent clip at 26 of 59 on the night. The Broncos were equally impressive from downtown, collectively shooting 8 of 19.

Guay, who knocked down the huge 3 in the closing moments, finished with 13 points and has now scored in double-digits in every Matadors game this season. She is averaging 15.4 points per outing.

Santa Clara is back in action Dec. 9 at Long Beach State at 2pm, and returns to the Leavey Center Dec. 29 vs. Fresno State in a 2pm afternoon contest.

GAME NOTES: Starters for CSU Northridge: Camille Mahlknecht, Ashlee Guay, Randi Friess, Violet Alama and Marta Masoni … Starters for Santa Clara: Meagan Fulps, Ricki Radanovich, Nici Gilday, Ashley Armstrong and Ruta Zurauskyte … Bronco redshirt senior Lindsay Leo was sidelined with a minor injury.