Jan. 3, 2002
FORT WORTH, Texas - Texas Christian University's women's basketball team snapped Santa Clara's six-game win streak with a 76-66 win to close non-conference action tonight at the Daniel-Meyer Coliseum in Fort Worth, Texas.
Down 18 at the half, the Broncos launched a comeback in the second period, shooting 50 percent from the field and making all 15 free throw attempts, but it wasn't enough, as both teams will enter league play next weekend with identical 10-3 records. The Broncos finish their 2001-02 non-conference season tied for its second-best mark in the last 10 years. SCU's most successful non-conference campaign came during the 1990-91 season when the squad went 12-2, en route to a 28-3 mark and the WNIT Championship.
TCU's Kati Safaritova followed her career-high 29 points from two nights ago with seven straight to start the scoring and a teammate added two more, before Santa Clara could respond with a three by junior forward Tammy Annas. Down 16-8 at the first media timeout, Bronco head coach Chris Denker inserted his entire second string, hoping to change the game's flow, but the 12 turnovers SCU committed in the half, along with a .333 shooting percentage, created a 18-point deficit at intermission, 41-23.
The Broncos opened the second period a new team, outscoring TCU 12-5 in the first four minutes, with two baskets each by junior forward Kendra Rhea, on the inside, and senior guard Becki Ashbaugh, from behind the arc, that reduced the lead to 11 at 46-35. SCU increased the run to an 18-8 advantage and was only down by eight with 13 minutes remaining, on two free throws by senior guard Caroline Gruening, who was fouled driving to the basket after stealing the ball under the Bronco basket on a TCU inbound play.
Freshman guard Quinn Thomas converted three-point play to reduce the TCU lead to seven with 4:28 remaining. A coast-to-coast drive by Ashbaugh made it a five-point deficit at 71-66 with 2:36 remaining, but it was as close as the Broncos would get.
Santa Clara was led by Ashbaugh's 17 points. The Broncos' defensive effort was led by Gruening's career-high seven rebounds and six steals. Santa Clara's shooting percentage in the second period marked the sixth time in the last eight halves of play that the team has shot over .500. Additionally, the team was held to a season-low four baskets from three-point land. The Broncos went 18-19 overall from the charity stripe for a season-high 94.7 percentage.
Safaritova finished with 14 points to lead the Lady Frogs, while Sandora Irvin pulled down a game-high nine boards. TCU's Ebony Shaw went down midway through the second half after injuring a knee while chasing a ball. She finished with 11 points.
Santa Clara returns home and will open the West Coast Conference season next week, hosting Gonzaga on Thursday, January 10. Fans that donate a jacket will receive a $2 admission price as part of "Bring a Coat Night." Portland will also visit the Leavey Center, on Saturday, January 12. The Broncos will celebrate Middle School Madness and Girl Scout Night against the Pilots. Both contests are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.