Nov. 17, 2001
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - Junior forward Julie Butler scored 21 points to lead the Santa Clara women's basketball team to a 67-59 upset win over 24th-ranked Utah today at the Golden Gopher Basketball Classic in Minneapolis, Minn.
The tempo of the first half was controlled by Utah (0-1) who shot 38% from the floor and held a 26-22 lead at intermission after limiting Santa Clara (1-0) to only 26% shooting from the floor.
"I think some of our players came out a little bit nervous tonight, especially the freshman," said head coach Chris Denker. "We went in to halftime and told the girls to come out with a reckless abandon in the second half as we knew we couldn't do any worse than the 26% shooting."
Denker's halftime speech seemed to work as the Broncos quickly turned the tide of the game going on a 21-12 run in the first eight minutes of the second half. The Broncos shot 42% from the floor in the second stanza, including 4-of-9 (44%) from behind the three-point arc. Santa Clara also turned the defense up a notch or two, limiting Utah to only 8-of-20 shooting from the floor in the second half.
"I think the game really turned in our favor in the second half with our aggressive and attacking play," said Denker. "By no means did we play perfect ball, but our attacking style allowed a lot of good things to happen."
Butler's team-high 21 points came on 8-of-14 shooting from the floor in 28 minutes of action. The junior from Tacoma, Wash. also grabbed a team-high nine rebounds in the win.
Becki Ashbaugh and Caroline Gruening added 12 and 10 points, respectively to round out the Bronco scorers in double-figures. Ashbaugh also dished out eight assists and grabbed four rebounds while Gruening shot lights out from behind the arc and the charity stripe, making 1-of-2 from three-point land and 5-of-5 from the free-throw line.
Santa Clara has now won its last three season-openers while picking up its first-ever win against Utah in five all-time meetings.
The Broncos will play host Minnesota Sunday at 2:30 (pacific) in the championship game which will mark the second-ever meeting between the two schools. Santa Clara and Minnesota last met during the 1992-93 season with the Gophers taking a 82-80 victory in Santa Clara. The Gophers took a 114-65 win over Butler in the first round to advance to Sunday's championship game.