SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Opening up West Coast Conference play, Santa Clara women's basketball fell to Saint Mary's by a final of 62-61. The loss puts the Broncos at 5-5 overall and 0-1 in WCC play while the Gaels are now 8-4 and 1-0 in conference action.
Santa Clara returns to the floor Mon., Dec. 29 at 7 p.m. vs. Pacific.
"Our effort this year has been fabulous. We play as hard as any team I've ever coached," said Santa Clara head coach JR Payne. "Our execution still has a ways to go and we're still growing as a team. One thing that I love about this team is that we fight and never give up. These games are great learning experiences even though they hurt like heck. We're going to be in more games like this so if we can learn to execute better down the stretch then the outcomes will be different."
Santa Clara shot 29.7% (22-74) from the field and 23.1% (3-13) from three. The Broncos had 41 rebounds, 13 assists, nine turnovers, five blocks, and nine steals. Nici Gilday lead the offense with 31 points on 12-29 shooting. Marie Berthold had a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds while Taylor Berry scored six to go with seven boards.
Saint Mary's shot 33.3% (14-42) from the field and 30.8% (4-13) from three. The Gaels had 48 rebounds, 11 assists, 20 turnovers, three blocks, and two steals. Lauren Nicholson lead the offense with 21 points on 6-15 shooting with five rebounds. Hayley Hendricksen scored seven with 11 boards and four assists while Stella Beck had eight rebounds and five points.
The Gaels jumped out to a 5-1 lead before Gilday slashed to the bucket and connected on a layup. Nicholson came right back with another bucket and Saint Mary's got the lead to 9-3. The Broncos were 1-8 from the field and didn't score after Gilday's layup until Maddison Allen hit one of two from the free throw line at 14:48.
With 11:53 on the clock Gilday drove to the bucket and made the shot while getting fouled. She converted on the free throw to make the deficit three. After Vanessa Leo missed two free throws on the next Santa Clara possession, Hendrickesen hit a baseline jumper.
Gilday's layup at 7:50 cut the Saint Mary's lead to just two at 17-15. She followed it up with two free throws to tie the game. Santa Clara would go on a 6-0 run over 3:09. The Gaels were 0-5 from the floor during the scoring drought and missed a pair of free throws. Nicholson hit a three with 6:16 left to end the run and put Saint Mary's back on top.
Saint Mary's went on a 7-0 run over two minutes to get the lead up to 24-17 at the 4:22 mark. Gilday ended the run with an elbow jumper. After Carly Rosenthal missed two free throws, the Broncos went on a 7-0 run of their own over 1:32 to tie the score. Gilday scored six points and Santa Clara forced a 10-second call in the backcourt to lead the way. Shannon Mauldin hit a pair from the charity stripe to get the Gaels back on the board.
The teams went to the locker room with the score 30-26 Saint Mary's.
Santa Clara shot 27.8% (10-36) from the field and 0.0% (0-4) from three in the first half. The Broncos had 23 rebounds, five assists, three turnovers, four blocks, and two steals. Gilday lead the offense with 17 points on 7-13 shooting. Bertholdt had seven rebounds while Allen scored three points with seven boards.
Saint Mary's shot 29.6% (8-27) from the field and 25.0% (2-8) from three in the first half. The Gaels had 26 rebounds, seven assists, and six turnovers. Nicholson lead the offense with 11 points and four rebounds. Hendricksen scored four points with six rebounds and two assists.
The Gaels went on a 6-0 run early in the second half to make their lead 38-30 with 17:22 remaining. Gilday ended the run with a jumper from the free throw line at 15:23 and Berry came up with a layup on the next Bronco possession.
A jumper by Bertholdt and two from the line cut the Santa Clara deficit down to two at 12:40. Nicholson hit one of two from the free throw line to make the score 43-40 and Gilday came back with a short baseline jumper that made it just a one-point game.
Right out of the under-12 media timeout Gilday hit two free throws to give the Broncos the lead and forced a turnover to give Santa Clara the ball right back. One of two from the line for Saint Mary's tied the game.
Bertholdt got Santa Clara on top by one with a layup and followed it up with two from the free throw line to make the score 48-45 Broncos with 8:38 on the clock. A steal by Gilday gave Santa Clara possession and Bertholdt made it hurt with two free throws.
The 6-0 Santa Clara run over a minute and a half ended when Hannah Kaser hit two from the free throw line at 7:37. Saint Mary's had six turnovers during the Bronco run.
Santa Clara got right back at it after a three seconds in the key call when Morgan McGwire hit a little turn around hook in the lane. After an offensive foul, Emily Wolph drilled a three to put Santa Clara up 55-47 with 6:10 on the clock.
Saint Mary's went on a 10-0 run over 4:09 to take the lead 57-55 with 1:41 on the clock. Nicholson hit a three and made a layup to lead the way for the Gaels while Santa Clara was 0-8 from the field. Gilday hit a step-back three at 1:03 to end the run and put the Broncos back on top 58-57.
Hendricksen was fouled with 37.6 seconds remaining in regulation and connected on both free throws to put the Gaels back up by one. Nicholson got two shots with 18.3 left and hit them both to make it a three-point game.
Gilday missed a three and Hendricksen was fouled with 2.2 seconds left. She missed the first but iced the game with the second. Gilday hit a three at the buzzer but it was too little and Saint Mary's held on for the win.
Game Notes: Attendance was 250 … head coach JR Payne and associate head coach Toriano Towns both attended Saint Mary's and played basketball.