Feb. 9, 2006
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - It is the sign of a versatile team when it can win games despite not having one of its best nights. The Santa Clara women's basketball team personified that ability to persevere and come out on top when they extended their winning streak to seven by gritting out a 69-57 victory over the Saint Mary's Gaels Thursday night at the Leavey Center.
The current streak of seven wins is the school's longest since winning eight WCC contests in a row during the 1999-2000 season.
Michelle Cozad proved again why she is the front-runner for WCC Player of the Year as she led five Broncos in double-figures in scoring with 22 points and grabbing seven rebounds. Demonstrating how clutch players come through in clutch situations, Cozad buried a huge three after the Gaels came to within five points with three minutes to play, then grabbed a key defensive rebound on the ensuing change of possession.
Cozad's 22 points also give her 928 for her career, leaving the Stockton native 72 points short with at least five games remaining of becoming the 15th member of the women's basketball program's 1,000-Point Club.
Kasey Monteith, Kayla Huss and Chandice Cronk each scored 11 points, as Monteith grabbed six rebounds and Huss dished out six assists as well. Tracey Walker rounded out the five Broncos in double figures as she added 10 points of her own to go with six boards. Ashley Gonnerman's four points were the only ones not scored by the quintet in double figures.
It was clear both teams were hungry for a win in this historic rivalry match up. The Broncos started things off hot, jumping to a quick 10-2 lead and forcing the Gaels to burn their first timeout with less than four minutes gone by.
The lead extended all the way to 21-7 before SCU's shooting went cold and the Gaels inched closer. Saint Mary's shot 37 percent from the field and grabbed a total of 30 rebounds in the first 20 minutes, taking advantage of Santa Clara's offensive slump to head into the locker room at halftime with a 31-30 lead.
But Santa Clara came out firing in the second half. Within five minutes Santa Clara took advantage of St. Mary's four turnovers and scored ten points to take a 40-31 lead. The Gaels tried to edge their way back in, but with the tough defending skills of Monteith, who made three steals and blocked a pair of shots on the night, Saint Mary's never came within five points the rest of the game.
Maija Lahde once led the Gaels with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Senior teammate Evynn Van Burger followed close behind with 16 points and 13 rebounds.
The two teams will meet again in the latter half of this home-and-home series. The Broncos will travel to McKeon Pavilion for a 7 p.m. tip Wednesday night looking to complete the season sweep of Saint Mary's.