Jan. 10, 2004
SAN FRANCISCO - The Santa Clara University women's basketball team opened the 2004 West Coast Conference season with a road victory, besting San Francisco 49-48 at War Memorial Gym. Senior forward Jennie Rondel posted 13 points to lead the Broncos in scoring for the third straight game. However, it was junior guard Quinn Thomas' running jumper with 17 seconds remaining that proved to be the game-winner, as Santa Clara wins its second straight and improves to 5-9, 1-0. The Dons were led by Mary Jane Krueger's fifth double-double of the season, 16 points and 14 rebounds, but their record falls to 7-7, 0-1.
"We've talked a lot as a team that the WCC is a whole new season," Rondel explained postgame. "We had a tough preseason that really prepared us for the battles we knew we'd be facing in conference, just like tonight proved to be. We're really coming together as a team, game by game."
"We had a tough preseason and we felt well-prepared for league play," head coach Michelle Bento-Jackson echoed. "We take something from each game and learn as a team. We played really well tonight and with a lot of intensity."
The game was close the whole way, with eight lead changes and eight ties and neither team leading by more than four points. Santa Clara outshot San Francisco 44 percent to 30, but was outrebounded 39-26. Freshman forward Jenni Gottschalk led the Broncos with six rebounds.
San Francisco saw seven steals from Toni Russell, who also finished with nine points. Joy Hollingsworth also netted nine points for the Dons. It marked only the second loss on the hilltop for USF, who went 7-1 at home during non-conference play.
In first-half action, Santa Clara broke a 17-17 tie in part with a three-pointer by freshman guard Ashley Graham and a lay-up by red-shirt forward Tori Markey to earn a 23-19 lead with five minutes remaining. San Francisco countered with its only three of the half, by Louise Larsen, but the Broncos kept the lead with a well-executed play that found Gottschalk alone under the basket for an easy score. A jumper by Don Carey Sauer eight seconds prior to the break made it a one-point ballgame at intermission, the narrow edge favoring SCU 25-24.
The teams kept trading leads in the second half. Six straight points by Krueger put USF ahead 38-34, but a drive by freshman guard Anna Martin and a three from the right wing by Graham restored the Bronco lead, 39-38 at 10:13.
Tied 46-46 at the two-minute mark, Hollingsworth converted both free throws of a one-and-one situation. Santa Clara missed a three-point opportunity at the other end of the court, but a USF turnover gave the Broncos the ball with 1:06 remaining. Rondel was fouled, and converted one shot from the charity stripe. Russell drove to the basket for the Dons, but turned the ball over. The Broncos miss another shot, but was able to grab the rebound. Bento-Jackson called a time out to set up her team's final play, which resulted in Thomas' running jumper from 12 feet. It marked Thomas' second straight game-winner, as she also nailed the winning basket on Tuesday at San Diego State.
San Francisco used its final time out to set a strategy for the final 13.4 seconds. Santa Clara's defense held strong, preventing a play as Graham tipped a pass out of bounds. Russell's attempt was partially blocked, but collected by Krueger, who's buzzer shot bounced off the rim twice before rolling away and securing the Bronco victory.
Santa Clara remains on the road and will visit Southern California next weekend in continuing conference action. The Broncos will play Pepperdine on Jan. 15 and Loyola Marymount on Jan. 17.