Feb. 23, 2002
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Santa Clara University finished its home season undefeated for only the second time in school history after posting a 69-65 victory over West Coast Conference champion Pepperdine in women's basketball action this afternoon at the Leavey Center.
The Broncos went 12-0 at Leavey this season, becoming only the second team in school history to completely protect their home court. The only other Bronco team to go undefeated at home was the 1990-91 squad, who finished its season 17-0 at Toso Pavilion in the Leavey Activities Center, and 28-3 overall as the WNIT Champions.
SCU finishes the regular season 19-8 overall, 9-5 in the WCC, while Pepperdine falls to 20-7, 11-3.
Junior Kendra Rhea finished the afternoon with her sixth double-double of the season, a career-high 21 points to go with 12 rebounds. Senior Caroline Gruening scored 14 points on 4-5 shooting from three-point range in her final home contest. Fellow senior Becki Ashbaugh dished out eight assists in the first half en route to a game-high 11.
Pepperdine was led by Nadja Morgan, who posted 15 points and 12 rebounds. Tamara McDonald added 11 points, while Shandrika Lee added 10. Keani Christianson fouled out with 1:03 remaining and finished with seven points and seven rebounds.
Down 42-28 at the half, Pepperdine opened the second period with a 15-6 run to get back in the game. Morgan converted on a three-point play to put the Waves ahead 65-62 with two minutes remaining, but an Ashbaugh drive, followed by a Bronco three-point play from junior forward Courtney Cushing, and SCU was ahead with one minute remaining. McDonald missed the front end of a one-and-one with 22 seconds left while Lee missed a three-pointer with eight seconds remaining. Free throws from Ashbaugh and Rhea sealed the victory for the Broncos.
Santa Clara opened the game on fire offensively, hitting 56.7 percent from the field, including 6-7 for Rhea and 3-3 from long distance for Gruening. The Waves applied full court pressure for much of the half, but the Broncos' transition game resulted in an early 17-9 lead that SCU held onto through the period.
A baseline three from Pepperdine's Shanell Law gave the Waves their first lead of the second half, at 56-55 with under seven minutes remaining, and increased that to 58-55 before the Broncos responded. Gruening's final three of the afternoon tied the contest at 62 with 2:22 remaining.
The Broncos finished the game shooting 40.7 percent from the field, but did not get help from the charity stripe, going 17-26 for an almost season-low 65.4 percent.
Up next for the Broncos is the 2002 WCC Women's Basketball Championship, held for the second straight year at the Jenny Craig Pavilion on the campus of the University of San Diego. The tournament will take place February 28 through March 4, with the women's semifinal games beginning March 1 at 6 p.m., with the championship slated for a 2:30 p.m. start on March 3. The title contest will air live on Fox Sports West, KRON and Action Sports. Seedings will be announced on Sunday.