SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Playing the last game of a four-game road trip, Santa Clara women's basketball beat Utah Valley by a final of 64-61. The win puts the Broncos at 3-6 while the Wolverines are now 1-10.
Santa Clara returns to the floor Wed., Dec. 18 at 5:30 p.m. vs. UC Davis. The women will play the first game of a doubleheader with men's basketball. The men will take on Radford following the women's game.
"Our post players came up big with some huge buckets down the stretch," said Santa Clara head coach Jennifer Mountain. "Marie did a good job of trying to get the ball inside to Ruta, which was an emphasis at half time and Ruta did a nice job of making some big shots. Rocky also had a huge steal for us that made it a two-possession game late. She played really hard and really well for us today."
Santa Clara shot 44.0% (22-50) from the field and 29.4% (5-17) from three. The Broncos had 36 rebounds, 16 assists, x turnovers, five blocks and 12 steals. Ruta Zurauskyte led the offense with 14 points on 7-7 shooting in her first start of the year. She added a team-high eight rebounds and had two blocks. Jo Paine scored 11 points with five rebounds while Nici Gilday and Raquel Avila each had nine points. Gilday grabbed five boards while Avila had five assists.
Utah Valley shot 39.3% (22-56) from the field and 40.0% (4-10) from three. The Wolverines had 31 rebounds, 17 assists, 19 turnovers, and 12 steals. Katie Kuklok led the offense with 17 points on 6-12 shooting with five rebounds and four steals. Rebecca MaWhinney scored 11 points while Prause dished out seven assists to go with four steals and six points.
Santa Clara scored the first bucket of the game at 17:17 on a layup inside from Ruta Zurauskyte that put the Broncos up 2-0. There were seven turnovers and five fouls between the two teams before the first bucket.
Utah Valley scored its first basket at 15:38 on a three from Kuklok. Kuklok was left wide open and hit her 41st three of the season to get the Wolverines within two at 5-3.
Raquel Avila answered with a three but Kuklok hit a deep three on the ensuing Utah Valley possession. Marie Bertholdt scored a bucket on the next Santa Clara possession to make it 10-6 Broncos.
Vanessa Leo made a steal outside of the three-point arc and took the ball all the way to the hoop but was fouled. She converted both free throws to grow the Santa Clara to six points with 12:28 remaining in the half.
The Wolverines went on a 6-0 run over 1:10 to get within two points at 14-12. Kuklok hit her third three in as many tries during the run. Leo made a free throw to end the run at 9:59.
After a pair of offensive rebounds by Santa Clara, Paine made a three from the right side. On the next possession Avila nailed a deep three from the left side to put Santa Clara on a 6-0 run and got the lead to double-digits at 23-13.
Following the three by Avila, Utah Valley went on an 8-0 run over 3:16 to make the score 23-21 Broncos. Kuklok led the way with four points during the run. Leo made a short jumper to get the Santa Clara offense back on the board.
The Broncos would take a 29-27 lead into the locker room at the end of the first half.
Santa Clara shot 38.5% (10-26) from the field and 44.4% (4-9) from three in the first half. The Broncos had 21 rebounds, seven assists, 14 turnovers, one block and five steals. Paine led the offense with eight points on 3-6 shooting and 2-4 from deep. Paine added a team-high five rebounds in the first half as well. Avila added six points and two assists while Leo scored five and had two rebounds.
Utah Valley shot 30.8% (8-26) from the field and 50.0% (3-6) from three in the first half. The Wolverines had 15 rebounds, six assists, nine turnovers, and five steals. Kuklok led the offense with 13 points on 4-5 shooting, including a perfect 3-3 from beyond the arc. Karlee Kartchner led the way with eight rebounds and Kyra Prause had three assists.
The Wolverines tied the game at 29-29, the first time the game was tied since 0-0, on the opening possession of the second half. Santa Clara responded with a 9-0 run over 4:06 to make the lead 38-29. Utah Valley went 0-4 from the floor with three turnovers during the Bronco run.
MaWhinney finally ended the run, and started one for Utah Valley, with a pair from the free throw line at 14:24. The Wolverine run went 7-0 over 1:16 get them within two and force Santa Clara to call a timeout. Right out of the timeout Montana Walters knocked down a three.
Santa Clara went on another 6-0 run in just under a minute that was led by Gilday's five points, three from the charity stripe. Kartchner hit a free throw to make the score 47-39 with 11:03 left in the second half.
An 8-0 run over 2:23 by Utah Valley got the game within two points again at 49-47. Katie Hawkins put the Broncos on top by four with two from the free throw line at 8:05.
A three by Ashley Lemz at 7:05 made it a one-point game. On the next possession, Zurauskyte used some strong inside play to make a layup and keep the Bronco lead in tact but the Wolverines cut it to one again on a layup by Makaily Worthington.
Out of the under-four media timeout Utah Valley turned up the defensive pressure and had the ball with a chance to tie the game but Avila made a steal and hit a tough layup to make the score 58-54 with two minutes remaining in regulation.
Gilday made a turn around jumper with 42 seconds remaining to get Santa Clara on top by five points at 62-57. Utah Valley called a quick timeout on the other end of the court to set up its offense.
The Wolverines got an easy layup on the next possession to make it a three-point game and called a quick timeout. With the full court pressure on, Santa Clara broke the press and Walters was fouled. She made both free throws to make it a two-possession game at 64-59.
After a bucket by Utah Valley, the Wolverines stole the inbounds pass and got Kuklok a look at a three but she was off the mark and the Broncos got the rebound to close out the 64-61 victory.