LAS VEGAS – A big fourth quarter lifted Santa Clara women's basketball to a 63-59 victory over San Diego Thursday afternoon in the first round of the West Coast Conference Tournament.
Dru Toleafoa's hard-earned layup at the third quarter buzzer started a 12-0 run for the Broncos (14-16, 6-12 WCC) that put them up 55-51 with 5:24 on the clock in the fourth. It was Santa Clara's first lead since 1:55 in the first quarter.
Sydney Shepard was able to cut the Toreros' (9-22, 2-16 WCC) deficit to 62-59 with 22 seconds on the clock when she connected on the first San Diego 3-pointer of the day, but Tia Hay converted at the free throw line on the other end to put the game on ice.
"Any time that we've matched up with San Diego in my three years, that's the exact type of game we've seen," Santa Clara head coach Bill Carr said. "They're grinders and I have so much respect for their coaching staff. It's an exciting win for us."
Hay scored a game-high 25 points on 7-for-14 shooting and was 10-for-11 from the charity stripe.
"Tia's carried the load most of the year and tonight it was the same thing," Carr said. "When we needed a big basket or a big play, she came through."
Freshman Lexie Pritchard also added a career-high 14 points. Ashlyn Herlihy led all players with 10 rebounds and Lauren Yearwood had six blocks to set the single-season program record.
"In the fourth quarter, we had a number of people step-up," Carr said. "Dru got a big charge for us late. Lexie played really well late. We got some stops and kind of figured things out defensively at halftime. We started guarding more like we want to. When we get stops and can run, that's when we're best."
After Lindsey VanAllen scored four in a row to get the Broncos within two, San Diego came back with eight in a row to get back up a game-high 50-40 with a minute left in the third quarter.
Patricia Brossman led the Toreros with 14 points and eight rebounds with Leticia Soares scoring 13 with eight boards as well and Madison Pollock adding 12 points.
Santa Clara mounted its first comeback late in the second quarter when Lexie Pritchard tied the game at 29-29 with 3:04 left in the period. San Diego responded and scored the final five points of the first half and the first two of the third to make it a 36-29 lead.
San Diego went on an 11-2 run that began at the end of the first quarter and concluded with a layup by Soares with 7:30 in the second that made it 25-18. The Broncos went 5:56 without a field goal before Emily Wolph drilled a 3-pointer to end the run
VIDEO | Head coach Bill Carr and Tia Hay on today's victory over San Diego at the #WCCChamps!— Santa Clara Women's Basketball (@Santaclarawbb) March 8, 2019
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HIGHLIGHTS ▶️ https://t.co/0KXizN0cbd#StampedeTogether #SCUBroncos pic.twitter.com/Gm3IFyuZeK
- Santa Clara is now 36-41 all-time against San Diego.
- With her block at 9:38 in the third quarter, Lauren Yearwood broke the Santa Clara single-season record with her 74th of the year, passing Annie Garrison in 1998-99. She is at 78 on the year, good for No. 7 on the career list.
- This was Bill Carr's first WCC Tournament win as a head coach.
- The Broncos used the same starting lineup (Hay, Wolph, Jimenez, Herlihy, Yearwood) for the 12th consecutive game.
The Broncos play Pacific tomorrow at 2 p.m.