SANTA CLARA, Calif. –Santa Clara women's basketball fell to Gonzaga by a final of 78-70 on Saturday. The loss puts the Broncos at 6-9 overall and 1-5 in WCC play while the Bulldogs are now 12-4 and 5-0 in conference action.
"I thought we were phenomenal defensively today," said Santa Clara head coach JR Payne. "We're not the biggest team in the world but we certainly play harder than most. Our intensity on the defensive end gave us a chance to stay in the game. Our intensity was great from the tip and we worked hard on both ends of the floor."
Santa Clara shot 41.7% (25-60) from the field and 26.3% (5-19) from three. The Broncos had 31 rebounds, 16 assists, 18 turnovers, no blocks, and 10 steals. Nici Gilday led the offense with 21 points on 6-12 shooting. Morgan McGwire added 15 and seven rebounds while Emily Wolph scored 10 points with six assists.
Gonzaga shot 50.0% (24-48) from the field and 26.7% (4-15) from three. The Bulldogs had 31 rebounds, 11 assists, 20 turnovers, five blocks, and seven steals. Elle Tinkle led the offense with 17 points and six rebounds. Keani Albanez scored 15 with four assists while Sunny Greinacher added 14 and three boards.
Gonzaga got out on top 4-0 before two free throws from Beth Carlson made it 4-2. Albanez drilled a three to make it a five-point game. Gilday's jumper at 17:25 made it 7-4.
Five straight for Gonzaga put the Broncos down eight. Gilday hit a layup to end the short Zag's run. After the teams exchanged buckets, Georgia Stirton hit a three to put Gonzaga up double-digits for the first time at 19-8.
The Bulldogs would go on a 7-0 run over three and a half minute until a nice layup by Marie Bertholdt with 10 minutes on the clock made the score 21-10. The Broncos turned the ball over four times during the run.
Another 7-0 run over 2:10 came for Gonzaga to build a 31-14 lead. The run ended when McGwire converted a three-point play with six minutes left in the half. Wolph followed it up with a three and then a steal and two free throws.
The Broncos would end up going on a 12-0 run to get the deficit down to five. Santa Clara was 3-3 from the field while Gonzaga turned the ball over four times and didn't score for over three minutes. The run ended with 3:12 on the clock when Albanez hit two free throws to make it the score 33-26.
The first half ended with Gonzaga on top 38-29.
Santa Clara shot 34.5% (10-29) from the field and 11.1% (1-9) from three in the first half. The Broncos had 16 rebounds, eight assists, 12 turnovers, no blocks, and seven steals. McGwire led the offense with seven points on 3-6 shooting with three rebounds. Wolph scored seven and Gilday scored six.
Gonzaga shot 52.0% (13-25) from the field and 33.3% (3-9) from three in the first half. The Bulldogs had 14 rebounds, six assists, 11 turnovers, four blocks, and three steals. Albanez led the offense with 10 points. Emma Wolfram scored nine points on 5-6 shooting from the line with three rebounds.
The teams traded bucks for the beginning of the second half with Gonzaga hitting four straight from the floor and Santa Clara hitting three consecutive. Out of the under-16 media timeout an offensive rebound and put back by Taylor Berry made it a seven-point game.
Gilday hit back-to-back threes around a bucket by Gonzaga to make the score 55-47 with 12:25 on the clock. Another three, this one from Wolph, at 10:47 after two free throws by the Zags got the Broncos within seven.
Another three from Gilday with just under four minutes left in the half made the score 69-63. Gonzga built up its lead using free throws and led by 10 with a minute remaining. The Zags held on for the eight-point win.
Game Notes: Attendance was 371. … JR Payne and Toriano Towns were assistants at Gonzaga for three seasons. … Former Bronco assistants Stacy Clinesmith and Amanda Brown are now on the coaching staff at Gonzaga.