Nov. 18, 2005
ATHENS, Ga. - The Santa Clara women's basketball team pushed No. 8 Georgia to the limit Friday night, nearly pulling off their first win over a ranked school in five years before falling 92-91 in dramatic fashion to the Lady Bulldogs.
Senior Michelle Cozad had a career night as she tied a career-high with 34 points and set new marks for field goals and attempts (13-of-23) and three-pointers made and attempted (5-for-10). She also led all Broncos with seven rebounds on the night. Kayla Huss added 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting to go with four assists while sophomore Chandice Cronk also scored in double-figures, adding 10 points and five boards to the effort.
"I have definitely never been more proud of a team as I was tonight," said Head coach Michelle Bento-Jackson. "To go into a very hostile environment and perform the way we did was huge. We were the better team tonight. The game was full of runs, but we weathered everything they came at us with and I'm just really proud of the team's performance tonight."
Santa Clara got things off to a running start with Cronk dropping a three on the Lady Bulldogs right from the start to spark the Broncos to a quick 5-0 lead. SCU never trailed at any point in the first half and only when the score was knotted at 12 with 15:44 to go in the half was the game tied.
The teams traded buckets for the next two minutes to up the score to 21-19 before the hot hands of the Broncos began to create a cushion. Another Cronk three gave the Broncos a 26-19 lead, and following a Sherrill Baker jumper to cut things to 26-21, a Cozad lay-up was followed by an Ashley Graham steal which led to a Cozad trey to push the Bronco lead to 10 points at 31-21.
Santa Clara kept frustrating Georgia with its ability to match the Lady Bulldogs shot-for-shot throughout the rest of the first half, stretching the lead to 43-29 at one point. Georgia put together a 9-0 run to close the gap to 43-38 with a minute to go but a Cozad lay-up followed by a Huss three with three seconds left in the half sent Santa Clara into the locker room with a 48-39 lead.
On the 13 threes made by the Broncos, Bento-Jackson noted, "They were very big, but one thing that won't be on the stat sheet is how we did a good job of having balance in our offensive game, we were going off the dribble and going to the basket just as well.
"And I was very pleased with our defensive performance tonight, so early in the season. This is only one game of the year and we will just keep building from here."
The Broncos kept the Lady Bulldogs at bay for the first 13-plus minutes of the second half, even stretching the lead to 14 with 14:30 remaining after another Cozad three. Georgia used a 15-3 run to pull within two, but Santa Clara got things back together and made a 10-2 run of their own to return the lead to double-digits at 80-70.
But the Lady Bulldogs made another run, with Tasha Humphrey scoring 11 of her 36 points on the night in the ensuing 15-2 run to give Georgia its first lead of the night.
Behind a three by Kayla Huss and a lay-up from Kasey Monteith, who finished the night with six points and six rebounds, the Broncos regained the advantage with two-and-a-half minutes remaining at 87-85. The score knotted up twice more, at 87 then again at 89, before a Humphrey free throw gave Georgia a 90-89 lead.
Walker missed a lay-up with 40 seconds left, but the Bronco defense held and Cozad rebounded Humphrey's missed jumper. A foul by Georgia's Sherill Baker with seven ticks on the clock put Cozad on the line as Santa Clara was in the bonus, and Georgia used a timeout to attempt to ice Cozad.
With the Lady Bulldogs trying to ice her and on the line facing a hostile crowd, Cozad calmly sank both free throws to give the Broncos the 91-90 lead with seven seconds remaining.
Racing down the court, Georgia's Alexis Kendrick's only field goal of the night provided the winning points for the Lady Bulldogs, and when Huss' desperation three missed, Georgia escaped with the 92-91 win.
The Broncos conclude their swing through the Southeast Monday evening as they head into Tuscaloosa to take on the Alabama Crimson Tide. Tip-off is set for 4 p.m. Pacific from Coleman Coliseum. Live stats will be available on www.santaclarabroncos.com.