LAS VEGAS, Nev. – In the quarterfinals of the West Coast Conference Tournament, Santa Clara women's basketball fell to San Diego by a final of 51-42. The loss ends the Broncos season at 11-18 while the Toreros are now 24-5.
"As always, I'm extremely proud to coach this team," said Santa Clara head coach JR Payne. "Nici and Marie exemplify what this program needs to be about, which is laying your heart on the floor every day. I'm very proud of our whole team for playing like that in practice and in games."
Santa Clara shot 34.0% (16-47) from the field and 30.8% (4-13) from three. The Broncos had 29 rebounds, six assists, 15 turnovers, two blocks, and seven steals. Nici Gilday led the offense with 22 points on 8-19 shooting with six rebounds. Morgan McGwire scored eight while Raquel Avila scored four with four assists.
"I'm so grateful that I got to play one season for Coach Payne," said Gilday. "This season has meant so much that I can't even put it into words. It's been an up and down career. Even though our record didn't show it, I was proud to be a Bronco, especially this year."
"These coaches have set the new guidelines for us moving forward," said Marie Bertholdt. "Hard work and leaving it all out on the court have been engrained in our minds and that's what it is going to get us where we want to be. This year was adjusting to that and we'll take that experience into the next couple of years.
San Diego shot 34.0% (18-53) from the field and 21.4% (3-14) from three. The Toreros had 42 rebounds, 14 assists, 15 turnovers, three blocks, and nine steals. Katelyn McDaniel led the offense with 16 points and eight rebounds. Maya Hood had a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds while Sophia Ederaine added 10 boards.
Gilday scored the first five points of the game for Santa Clara on a baseline jumper and a three. After a bucket by the Toreros, Avila knocked down a jumper to put Santa Clara up 7-3 with 15:56 to go in the first half.
After San Diego tied the game with two straight buckets, Santa Clara scored four on two free throws from Marie Bertholdt and a layup from Gilday. San Diego came right back with a three at 11:41 to make it a one-point game.
The Toreros went on an 11-0 run over 5:50 to get up by seven. Santa Clara went scoreless for 6:18 and was 0-5 from the field with four turnovers. The drought ended with a layup by Maddison Allen with 5:45 left in the half. The basket made the score 18-13 Toreros.
A 6-0 run by San Diego put them on top by double-digits for the first time at 26-15. Avila hit a jumper in the lane with 46 seconds to go in the first half to end the run but the Toreros answered right back.
Santa Clara's final possession of the half resulted in a layup by McGwire and the teams went to the locker room with the score 28-19.
Santa Clara shot 38.1% (8-21) from the field and 33.3% (1-3) from three in the first half. The Broncos had 10 rebounds, three assists, eight turnovers, one block, and two steals. Gilday led the offense with seven points. Avila and McGwire each scored four.
San Diego shot 39.3% (11-28) from the field and 12.5% (1-8) from three in the first half. The Toreros had 20 rebounds, seven assists, six turnovers, one block, and four steals. Hood led the offense with 12 points on 5-9 shooting. McDaniel scored six with three rebounds while Ederaine scored three with four rebounds.
The first five points of the second half went to San Diego. Malina Hood made a three with 16:13 on the clock to make the score 33-19. Sidney Rielly made a baseline jumper at 15:37 for the first Santa Clara points of the half.
The Bronco defense held San Diego scoreless for 3:39 but could only manage two buckets by McGwire on the offensive end. The Toreros got back on the board with two free throws at 9:22 that made the score 39-25.
Santa Clara went on a 6-0 to get the deficit down to eight. Gilday knocked down a jumper and then made a steal that led to an easy layup. The Toreros scored on a free throw line jumper from McDaniel on the next possession to make the score 41-31.
Gilday hit another three and Santa Clara forced a turnover in the backcourt. Bertholdt made one of two from the free throw line to make the score 49-41 with less than a minute remaining.
The teams exchanged free throws and San Diego held on for the nine-point win.
Game Notes: Nici Gilday moved up on the Santa Clara single season list. She is now: T-No. 6 in field goals (189), No. 2 in field goal attempts (479), T-No. 7 in threes made (72), and No. 8 in threes attempted (200). Gilday and Bertholdt moved into No. 8 on the single season tandem scoring list (832) as well.