January 31, 2004

Women's Hoops Falls at Portland

Jan. 31, 2004

Box Score

PORTLAND, Ore. - The Santa Clara University women's basketball team dropped a 69-61 decision to Portland tonight in West Coast Conference action at the Chiles Centre in Portland. Junior guard Quinn Thomas netted 17 points, but Santa Clara falls to 6-14, 2-5. Khalila O'Rielly-Williams scored 20 points to lead the Pilots to victory and improve their record to 9-11, 4-3.

Three Bronco freshmen also performed well. Forwards Ashley Gonnerman and Jenni Gottschalk finished with 13 and 12 points respectively, with Gottschalk recording a new career high. Point guard Ashley Graham posted her first double-digit assist game, dishing out a career-high 12 tonight.

Portland also saw a strong performance from Ashlee Orndorf, who recorded 14 points and 11 rebounds, and Whitney Grant and Lauren Himmelspach, who also notched 14 points each.

The Broncos' offense got to work immediately, with Gonnerman converting a three-point play, and Thomas hitting a baseline three to cap a 10-0 Santa Clara run and open a 16-6 lead. Portland responded with a run of their own and pushed ahead 21-20 on an O'Rielly-Williams drive. The teams traded leads, but back-to-back lay-ups from Gottschalk put SCU ahead 30-28 heading into the final two minutes of the half. Neither team scored again, and the Broncos had their eighth halftime lead of the season. Gottschalk had 10 at the break to lead Santa Clara, while Gonnerman had nine and Thomas eight to spread out the scoring. Orndorff paced the Pilots with 11.

The Broncos extended their lead to four, but Portland took the lead again with 12 minutes remaining, on a three-pointer from Whitney Grant. O'Rielly-Williams hit a baseline jumper to extend that lead to 45-40 at the 10-minute mark. Second-half foul trouble for the Broncos put the Pilots on the line early and often, with Portland finishing the night 27-34 from the charity stripe.

Portland pulled ahead by 10, 57-47 on two free throws with five minutes remaining. Santa Clara kept the contest exciting, going on a quick 9-0 run to make it a one-point game with less than four minutes to play. It started with a drive by Graham, who converted a three-point play. She then hit from long range from the right side. Redshirt freshman forward Tori Markey kept the momentum with the Broncos with a steal and a feed to freshman guard Anna Martin, who found Thomas outside. Thomas hit a three from the same spot where Graham had just scored.

Graham kept the hot hand, hitting from the opposite wing to pull SCU to 61-59. Hanna Seltzer hit a pull-up jumper, but senior forward Jennie Rondel responded to keep Portland's lead at two. A Bronco foul put O'Rielly-Williams on the line, where she converted one of two shots to give the Pilots a three-point lead heading into the final minute. However, two Bronco turnovers in the final minute of the game put the contest out of reach for the visitors.

Thomas made five shots from behind the arc, with her third giving her sole possession of second place in the Broncos' career listing, and she now has 144. She passed 2002 graduate Becki Ashbaugh (141), who was in attendance tonight, as she is attending law school at the University of Oregon. In fact, 10 former Broncos held a mini reunion in conjunction with tonight's contest.

Santa Clara will return to the courts next Thursday, for a 7 p.m. tip-off at the University of San Diego in continuing league action.