Nov. 12, 2006
LONG BEACH, Calif. - The Santa Clara women's basketball team showed that they are still just as deadly as ever from beyond the arc Sunday afternoon, hitting 10-of-24 attempts on the way to a 76-67 victory over the Long Beach State 49ers in the 2006-07 season opener at the Pyramid in Long Beach. Guards Chandice Cronk and Ashley Graham each drained four three-pointers to lead the Broncos to their first season-opening win since the 2002-03 season.
SCU (1-0) now returns home to the Leavey Center for the 2006-07 home opener Wednesday night, Nov. 8. The Broncos will host the Miami Hurricanes at 7 p.m., and continue the week with a 7 p.m. home game against the Cal Poly Mustangs Friday night, Nov. 17. Tickets are available by calling (408) 554-4660 or by clicking here.
Cronk, behind 4-of-9 shooting on her three-point attempts and 7-of-15 shooting overall, led the Broncos with a career-high total of 24 points in the game, and also grabbed five rebounds. Graham rode her four treys to a 17-point effort, adding four assists and a pair of steals. Tracey Walker led the team Sunday with six rebounds while also contributing eight points and four assists, and Ashley Gonnerman added nine points, four rebounds and a pair of blocks underneath.
"I thought we did a pretty good job with our shot selection and moving the ball around today," said head coach Michelle Bento-Jackson. "One thing that we really did well tonight was take care of the ball. Our decision-making was really good and we valued each possession, and that along with solid shooting really made a difference."
A strong finish to the opening half gave the Broncos room to weather a Long Beach State rally to begin the second, as an 11-point lead was whittled down to two with 15 minutes to play. But consistent shooting and tough defense carried the Broncos to the eventual win.
After SCU fell behind 13-9 in the game's first seven-and-a-half minutes, Cronk put the Broncos ahead by a pair with consecutive threes. Two free throws soonafter by Long Beach State's Lauren Sims gave the 49ers a short-lived 17-15 lead with 7:21 left in the half, but Cronk answered by driving her way to the line and tying things up with a pair of free throws. Her three-pointer following a 49er turnover the next time down gave SCU a 20-17 lead, and from that point the Broncos never trailed again the rest of the way.
Long Beach tied it at 22-apiece with five minutes to go in the half, but another three, this time from Walker, gave the Broncos the lead that they would never relinquish, and a three from Graham a couple of possessions later made it a four-point lead.
After a 49er score cut the lead to two at 28-26, the Broncos closed the final two minutes with a flourish as Elizabeth Doran's jumper ignited a 9-0 run to end the half. A pair of Gonnerman free throws were followed by a steal and fast-break layup by Jen Gottschalk, who scored five points and grabbed three boards in her return to the court after a two-year layoff. Gonnerman then finished off the run with a three of her own with 28 seconds left to send SCU into the locker room with an 11-point lead at 37-26.
A shaky start to the second half allowed Long Beach to make a 14-5 surge to cut things to two at 42-40, but freshman Maggie Goldenberger and senior Kasey Monteith entered the contest and quickly made a difference to help thwart the rally. Goldenberger immediately hit a jumper to stop the run, and Monteith scored all six of her points and made a clutch steal in the ensuing six-plus minute stretch that saw SCU outscore the 49ers 17-8 to rebuild the lead to 11 at 59-48.
"Kasey really gave us solid minutes on both ends of the court, and Maggie gave us instant energy, she did a lot of little things out there that don't show up on the box score, but were important in helping us get out of the brief lull we fell into there," Bento-Jackson said about the play of the two post players.
Even after a 7-0 run by the 49ers cut things back down to four, the Broncos remained calm behind the play of Graham, who hit a pair of threes to spark a 9-2 stretch which saw the lead balloon back to 11 at 68-57 with 3:54 to go.
The 49ers never got back to within less than six the rest of the way, and a pair of Anna Martin free throws put SCU up 73-64 with 42 seconds to play, essentially putting the game on ice.