March 5, 2006
SPOKANE, Wash. - March shows no favoritism when it comes to postseason college basketball, and this afternoon was no exception as the Santa Clara women's basketball team dropped a heart-breaking 71-67 decision to the Pepperdine Waves in Sunday's WCC Championship game.
In a second half which saw three lead changes and the score tied five different times, the Waves (14-16) took the lead late and used second- and third-chance points to hold off the Broncos (19-11) in the final minute.
Kayla Huss scored all 10 of her points in the second half while Michelle Cozad paced the team with 24 points and nine rebounds. Ashley Gonnerman gave another solid effort down low, coming off the bench to shoot 5-for-9 for 10 points and grab eight rebounds.
The Broncos overcame a sluggish start to climb back into the game in the first ten minutes. Pepperdine rode their hot hands in the opening minutes to an 18-8 advantage before Santa Clara found their rhythm and began to chip away, as 10 points from Cozad highlighted a 16-4 SCU run to make it a 24-22 contest.
Neither team led by more than three points from the ... mark of the first half until there was 11:19 left in the second, when a Tracey Walker lay-up put Santa Clara in front by five at 57-52.
Huss' big second half included a clutch block with just under nine minutes left that preserved a fragile one-point lead for the Broncos. But with about five minutes to play the Waves took their first lead since just after halftime on Nakeya Isabell's uncontested lay-up after a steal. A Jessica Ross three on the ensuing possession gave Pepperdine a 65-61 lead with 4:11 to play.
The Broncos evened things with just over a minute and a half to play as Huss found Walker for a driving lay-up. Things stayed even up until Pepperdine regained possession with 43.6 seconds to play.
Daphanie Kennedy's three as the shot clock expired failed to fall but Kelsey Ball's offensive rebound allowed the Waves to call time again and regroup, this time with 32.2 seconds remaining.
With a six-second differential between the shot clock and game clock, Pepperdine worked the clock down to single digits before Kennedy converted a lay-up with nine seconds remaining.
Following a pair of timeouts, the Broncos inbounded but failed to get the final shot off as Pepperdine forced a loose ball and the ensuing tie-up gave the Waves possession. Kennedy hit a pair of free throws with 0.2 seconds left to provide the final margin.
For their performances in the conference tournament, Cozad and Chandice Cronk were named to the all-tournament team, along with San Francisco's Dominique Carter and Pepperdine's Jasmane Clarendon and Tournament MVP Daphanie Kennedy.
Santa Clara will now return home to await word on a postseason bid in another week. Selection Monday is set for March 13.