MORAGA, Calif. – In the final game of the regular season, Santa Clara women's basketball lost a close game to Saint Mary's by a final of 74-71. The loss puts the Broncos at 10-17 overall and 5-13 in WCC action while the Gaels are now 20-8 overall and 14-4 in conference play.
Santa Clara returns to the floor at the West Coast Conference Tournament in Las Vegas beginning March 5.
Santa Clara shot 49.2% (29-59) from the field and 41.7% (5-12) from three. The Broncos had 25 rebounds, 18 assists, 19 turnovers, two blocks, and seven steals. Nici Gilday led the offense with 22 points, five assists, and four steals. Morgan McGwire scored 14 with six rebounds while Marie Bertholdt added 10 points.
Saint Mary's shot 51.0% (25-49) from the field and 35.7% (5-14) from three. The Gaels had 34 rebounds, 13 assists, 21 turnovers, two blocks, and 11 steals. Lauren Nicholson led the offense with 17 points on 7-10 shooting with six assists. Hayley Hendricksen added 16 points and nine rebounds while Shannon Mauldin scored 14.
A Gilday jumper with 15:46 on the clock tied the game at six but Saint Mary's scored the next five points. Santa Clara followed with a 6-0 run over 1:33 to take a 12-11 lead. Mauldin ended the run with a layup that put the Gaels back on top.
After the teams stayed within four points for the next 12 minutes, McGwire tied the game at 24 with 3:52 remaining in the first half. Gilday followed with a layup to put Santa Clara back on top but four-straight for Saint Mary's made the score 28-26 with 2:27 on the clock.
Both teams would score one more bucket in the first half and Saint Mary's took a 30-28 lead to the locker room.
Santa Clara shot 46.4% (13-28) from the field and 0.0% (0-2) from three in the first half. The Broncos had 13 rebounds, seven assists, 12 turnovers, two blocks, and three steals. McGwire led the offense with 10 points.
Saint Mary's shot 45.5% (10-22) from the field and 16.7% (1-6) from three in the first half. The Gaels had 16 rebounds, four assists, 12 turnovers, one block, and seven steals. Nicholson led the offense with eight points.
A 7-0 Saint Mary's run over 57 seconds early in the second half put the Gaels up 40-33. With 16:01 on the clock McGwire made a layup to end the run.
The Broncos went on a 7-0 run of their own over 1:42 behind layups and free throws. The run put Santa Clara up 47-46 with 12:41 left in the game. Stella Beck knocked down a pair from the charity stripe to end the run and get Saint Mary's back up by one.
Gilday hit a jumper with 4:02 remaining to put Santa Clara within one but Saint Mary's scored five straight, including a three from Carly Turner, to build a six-point lead. Santa Clara came right back with a 6-0 run over two minutes to tie the game with just 38 seconds left in the game.
Nicholson knocked down a jumper with 11 seconds on the clock to put Saint Mary's up two. Santa Clara couldn't convert on the offensive end and a Gaels' free throw would make the score 74-71 when the buzzer sounded.