SANTA CLARA, Calif. – In a matchup of teams looking for their first conference win of the year, Santa Clara women's basketball topped Portland by a final of 83-68. The win puts the Broncos at 6-8 overall and 1-4 in WCC play while the Pilots are now 2-13 and 0-4 in conference action.
"What matters is that we got the win tonight," said Santa Clara head coach JR Payne on her first WCC win has a head coach. "We've been in so many close games already and we know this is a great league, but to get over the hump is awesome for us. We rebounded really well tonight and had four different players in double figures. We also defended like crazy. Our girls really bought into the idea that we wanted to press tonight and at times that's what carried us."
Santa Clara shot 44.4% (32-72) from the field and 33.3% (9-27) from three. The Broncos had 43 rebounds, 17 assists, 19 turnovers, six blocks, and 16 steals. Nici Gilday led the offense with 30 points on 8-16 shooting from deep. She added six steals, four assists, and two rebounds. Marie Bertholdt had a double-double (13 points, 10 rebounds) while Emily Wolph added 13 points with seven assists and Vanessa Leo scored 13 with six rebounds.
Portland shot 48.0% (24-50) from the field and 58.8% (10-17) from three. The Pilots had 29 rebounds, 15 assists, 28 turnovers, three blocks, and nine steals. Cassandra Brown led the offense with 21 points on 8-13 shooting. Kari Luttinen added 19 with four threes and Cassandra Thompson scored 10 with seven rebounds.
A three by Luttinen gave Portland a 5-4 lead with 17:12 on the clock and started a 7-0 Pilot run over 2:14. Santa Clara was 0-5 from the field while the Pilots were 4-4. Wolph ended the run out of the under-16 media timeout with a little jumper to make it a 9-6 game.
The Broncos forced a travel in the backcourt and Leo hit a layup. Another backcourt turnover gave Santa Clara the ball right back and Bertholdt put Santa Clara up 10-9. The Broncos would end up on an 8-0 run over two minutes while Portland didn't score for three minutes and committed five turnovers. Hannah Mattson got the Pilots back on the board with a three to tie the game with 12 and a half minutes on the clock.
Gilday drilled a three to put the Broncos up a point and their backcourt pressure continued to work with another turnover. Gilday capitalized with another three to make the score 19-15.
Santa Clara missed eight consecutive field goals and Portland was able to tie the game 21-21 with 8:02 on a layup by Ashley Gray. The eighth miss in a row went to Brooke Gallaway under the hoop for an easy put back to end the drought.
Gilday's short jumper in the lane with the shot clock winding down put Santa Clara on a 6-0 run but a transition jumper by Brown for Portland ended the run and made the score 31-25 with 3:15 on the clock.
With Santa Clara on top by eight after another three from Gilday, Luttinen hit a three of her own to make the score 37-32 with 39 seconds left in the half. Santa Clara called a timeout to game plan with just a 3.6 second differential between the shot clock and game clock. Nothing came of the possession but Portland turned the ball over and Wolph was fouled going up for a layup. She hit both free ones and Santa Clara entered the locker room up 39-32.
Santa Clara shot 39.5% (15-38) from the field and 33.3% (4-12) from three in the first half. The Broncos had 21 rebounds, five assists, seven turnovers, two blocks, and seven steals. Gilday led the offense with 14 points on 4-8 shooting from deep with three steals. Bertholdt scored seven points with three rebounds and two steals while Wolph scored seven with three assists and two boards.
Portland shot 50.0% (11-22) from the field and 50.0% (4-8) from three in the first half. The Pilots had 16 rebounds, seven assists, 15 turnovers, two blocks, and three steals. Luttinen led the offense with 11 points on 4-8 shooting. Mattson added eight points while Thompson scored six.
A jumper from Beth Carlson and a three from Gilday put Santa Clara up nine early in the second half. Gilday would miss a three but an offensive rebound by Bertholdt gave her another chance and she converted to make it a double-digit lead for the first time.
Brown's three with 13:35 remaining cut the lead to six but on the next Bronco possession Leo went to work in the lane and hit a short jumper. Thompson answered right back with a par of free throws to make it 54-48.
Santa Clara went on a 7-0 run over just 34 seconds behind strong full court press to get out on top 61-48. Luttinen ended the run with a three with 11 and a half minutes on the clock.
Eight straight points for the Pilots behind five points from Brown made it just a five-point game halfway through the second half. An easy layup for Leo ended the run and made the score 63-56.
Portland started to break the Bronco press and get some good looks at the hoop in transition. Luttinen hit a three and a jumper around a layup from Leo. Brown hit another three to make it just a three-point game with five and a half minutes to play. Wolph hit a three to give Santa Clara some breathing room at 72-66.
With Santa Clara up 76-68 and 1:44 left, Portland started to foul. The first one-and-one was unsuccessful but Gilday came through with two on the next chance and then followed with two more.
She hit an acrobatic three on the last Santa Clara possession to give the Broncos the 83-68 win.
Game Notes: Attendance was 365.